​Alberta funding new STARS helicopter as fleet ages

Alberta health minister Sarah Hoffman joins dignitaries to announce the helicopter funding announcement on Mar. 16, 2019. Image: Government of Alberta

STARS Air Ambulance will soon have a new $13-million Airbus H145, funded by the Government of Alberta.

It's the first unit in a program STARS launched last year to upgrade its aging fleet of BK117s and AW139s, which it says are difficult to find parts for and costly to maintain.

The first new medically-equipped Airbus H145 is expected to arrive this spring and will be staffed by critical care paramedics, nurse paramedics and emergency physicians, STARS says.

The oil and gas industry is a major STARS supporter. The Petroleum Services Association of Canada hosts the annual STARS & SPURS Gala, which is Alberta’s largest and longest-running fundraising event.

This January the gala raised a record $1.4 million for the air ambulance, bringing the total to $17 million since inception.

STARS has flown more than 40,000 missions since 1985.