Government gives STARS $65 million for new helicopters

A STARS AW139 flies past a firefighter acting as a landing zone officer

Non-profit air ambulance service STARS will receive CAD$65 million from the government to help replace its ageing EMS fleet.

The Canadian government announced today in the federal budget that the Prairie-based air-ambulance operator will receive the funding to purchase H145 helicopters to renew its BK117 fleet.

The operator first announced its plan to renew its fleet of BK117s in June 2018. The BK117s are being replaced as their production ceased in 2004 and are increasingly costly to maintain. STARS also flies and maintains a fleet of AW139 helicopters.

STARS president and CEO Andrea Robertson said: “This commitment by the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister, Ralph Goodale, and the Government of Canada is an investment in the future of Western Canadians, enabling STARS to be there to fight for the lives of patients in need for generations to come.”

STARS operate nine helicopters across its six bases. Five aircraft are based out of three Alberta bases, three helicopters across two Saskatchewan bases and one for its Manitoba base. Each helicopter at these bases costs approximately $13 million.

“We are incredibly grateful that the Government of Canada has recognized the role STARS plays in ensuring the health and safety of Western Canadians,” said Doug Ramsay, co-chair of the STARS volunteer board of directors and vice-chair and founder of Calfrac Well Services.

“This is a historic announcement for STARS and for our fleet renewal process. It’s exceptional news for our patients.”

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