STARS, October 24, 2013 - Calgary, AB – STARS air ambulance officially announced the arrival of its new donor funded AW139 helicopter today during an unveiling ceremony at the STARS Calgary base.
The Calgary-based AW139 helicopter is the second of two new donor-funded AW139s purchased by STARS for service in Alberta, with the first already in service in Edmonton (arrived in Dec. 2012). The helicopters will enhance access to emergency pre-hospital critical care through more rapid response, an expanded service area, a larger medical interior, powerful lift capacity, and a de-icing system that will enable flight during adverse weather conditions.
“The significant financial capital needed to purchase the Alberta-based helicopters initiated the largest fundraising campaign in STARS history, raising over $26.5 million,” said STARS’ President and CEO, Andrea Robertson. “We have now completed the vision of bringing this new helicopter to Alberta thanks to the incredible support of our donors, and partnerships with the provincial government, Alberta Health Services, and emergency services.”
The AW139s cost approximately $16 million each, including $14.2 million for each helicopter, and $2 million for each of the medical-interiors.
The formal presentation included a technical overview of the helicopter, and presentations by STARS’ president and CEO Andrea Robertson; STARS’ Founder Dr. Greg Powell; STARS’ Very Important Patient Michelle Salt, who is aspiring to compete in snowboarding at the Sochi, Russia Paralympic Games; and STARS’ fundraising campaign chair Craig Stewart.
The AW139 helicopters are larger than STARS’ existing BK117 helicopters, weighing 6,800 kg, and measuring 16.67 metres from front to back. The BK117s measure 13 metres front to back.
Normal cruise speed of the AW139 is 150 knots (278 kilometres per hour). The helicopter can fly up to 300 km/hr depending on wind and weight of the helicopter. The helicopter and crew are of most benefit to patients within a one-hour flight range (the “golden hour”).
The AW139s were manufactured in Philadelphia, PA by AgustaWestland.
STARS current fleet of eight BK117 helicopters fly at a speed of approximately 120 knots (225 kilometres per hour) from bases in Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg.
The Edmonton based AW139 began flying select missions this past month after receiving full Transport Canada certification. The AW139s in Edmonton and Calgary will be phased into operations alongside our existing BK117 helicopters.
Similar to the process with STARS’ Edmonton AW139, we will be conducting intensive training with flight crews, as well as training with other emergency services at key communities served by the Calgary base before the new helicopter goes into operation.
The Calgary based AW139, with flight crew, is anticipated to begin flying missions in early 2014.
STARS flight crews consist of a pilot, a co-pilot, a nurse experienced in emergency/ICU care, and an advanced life support paramedic. A STARS emergency transport physician is also available by telephone for every response, and is airborne in the helicopter when medically necessary.
About STARS: STARS is a non-profit helicopter air ambulance organization that provides rapid and specialized emergency care and transportation for critically ill and injured patients. STARS responded 1,539 times in 2012 from our three bases in Alberta. STARS doctors, nurses, paramedics, and pilots work with a team of dedicated support staff and community partners to save lives. STARS operates from bases in Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie.