STARS Air Ambulance is looking to replace its entire Alberta fleet with five new helicopters by 2024.
“It is a large undertaking to be sure, but we are optimistic that we’ll have the support of the community,” spokesperson Mark Oddan said on Monday. “STARS was built by the community for the community. For the sustainability of our organization and in particular our fleet, we are optimistic that we will be successful.”
According to Oddan, a recently completed assessment showed that a new, single-model fleet of helicopters was the best bet for the organization going forward.
“A unified fleet is the best choice for safety, for operational reasons, and for cost control,” Oddan said. “It is considered best practice and it will result in less time and money spent on dual-platform maintenance and training, which ultimately translates into more missions where we can make a real difference.”
STARS is calling it the biggest fundraising campaign the emergency crew has ever done. Each Airbus H-145 costs about $13 million. STARS says the model is a “technologically advanced model with an updated version of the medical interior found in STARS’ existing aircraft.”
The fleet renewal plan would see the first new chopper arrive in Calgary in 2019, with another four arriving over the three Alberta bases over five years. According to STARS, the first three have already been ordered.
The existing aircraft will be sold after the new fleet is in place to supplement any funds raised from the community and government partners.
– With files from Brenton Driedger, Global News