STARS welcomes first of new helicopter fleet to Saskatchewan, receives capital campaign gift

September 25, 2019

SASKATOON, Sept. 25, 2019 – Together with patients, crew and community allies, STARS welcomed to Saskatchewan its first new Airbus H145 helicopter today. The aircraft, which will be located at STARS’ Saskatoon base, is the third helicopter in a plan to replace the non-profit air ambulance’s fleet across Western Canada.

“Today is about bringing us one step closer to making our fleet renewal program a reality,” said STARS president and CEO Andrea Robertson. “It is also about paying tribute to our community allies who built STARS in this province seven years ago and have sustained it ever since.”

The milestone event was marked by the air arrival of STARS patient Bonnie Fortin in the new H145 helicopter. Fortin was accompanied by Rod Gantefoer – who was instrumental in establishing STARS’ operations in Saskatchewan in 2012 – and Premier Scott Moe, whose government announced in December 2018 its commitment to fund one of three new helicopters needed for STARS to operate from its bases in Saskatoon and Regina.

“Our government is pleased to join so many generous corporate and individual donors in support of an indispensable service that has saved lives and improved access to emergency medical care across the province,” Premier Scott Moe said.

“With the renewal of its fleet of helicopters, STARS will be better able to provide high-quality medical care to Saskatchewan people, particularly those living in rural and remote areas. STARS is a strong Saskatchewan partnership that proves its worth every day.”

In honour of the Province’s commitment to STARS and its fleet renewal program, and for the people of Saskatchewan who have supported STARS, the last three letters of this helicopter’s official registration marks are “LLS” – which stand for “Land of Living Skies.”

STARS anticipates the new H145 helicopter will enter service this fall.

Fleet renewal necessary for STARS’ sustainability

STARS unveiled in June 2018 its, multi-year plan to replace its fleet of BK117 and AW139 aircraft with nine new medically equipped Airbus H145 helicopters, at a cost of CAD $13 million each.

“The bulk of our aging fleet are no longer being built and are becoming costlier to maintain,” said Robertson. “Additionally, independent assessments of the sustainability of our fleet told us we needed to move from two aircraft types to one.”

An extensive review resulted in the selection of the Airbus H145 aircraft as the best option for STARS’ new fleet. It offers cutting-edge technology, advanced safety features, and an updated version of the medical interior found in STARS’ existing helicopters.

“We are proud to deliver this third H145 to STARS in support of their extremely important mission of providing life-saving medical flights across Western Canada,” said Dwayne Charette, president of Airbus Helicopters Canada.

“The H145 family of aircraft provide a proven and flexible platform for even the most specialized emergency medical services work, and we look forward to continuing to support STARS’ operations with additional H145s on their way.”

Capital campaign receives boost

Thanks to the generous support of federal and provincial government allies and early fleet supporters like Nutrien, STARS is well on its way to achieving its fleet renewal goal. A capital campaign continues to raise funds to replace the rest of the fleet.

Today’s event included the announcement of a $1 million gift to the fleet renewal campaign from Gordon and Jill Rawlinson.

“Jill and I have always looked for ways to give back to Saskatchewan, our home province, which has been very good to us,” said Gordon Rawlinson, CEO of Rawlco Radio Ltd. “STARS provides a vital service which reaches every corner of our province, and we have been proud of our partnership from the very beginning.”

The donation will be recognized through the renaming of STARS’ Mobile Education Unit to become the Rawlinson Mobile Education Unit (MEU) – a motorhome retrofitted with an emergency medical simulation room in which to provide critical care training at no charge to rural health-care professionals. The MEU was the first of its kind in North America and has provided training to more than 650 individuals in communities across Saskatchewan in the last year alone.

“Our supporters ride along with us on every mission, and now they are helping us build the next STARS fleet,” said Robertson. “These new aircraft are an investment in our ability to serve the people of Western Canada for decades to come, and we’re incredibly grateful to the community for helping us get closer to our goal.”

For more information contact:
Mark Oddan, STARS Communications | mediainfo@stars.ca | 306-565-8000

Learn more about STARS’ fleet renewal project at fightinflight.ca

Rawlco Radio Ltd. Is a private, family-owned radio company that operates seven radio stations: three in Saskatoon (650 CKOM, C95 and Rock 102), and three in Regina (980 CJME, Z99 and Jack FM).


Simply put, STARS fights for life. Since we embarked on our first mission in 1985, we’ve been driven by the goal of providing people the vital care they need when they need it the most. Whether it’s offering hands-on training to rural medical providers or providing rapid, emergency medical transportation for the critically ill and injured, we operate 24/7 from bases in Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg, anticipating and acting when people need our help. Learn more at STARS.CA