In Texas, US, the Travis County Commissioners Court has approved the $34-million purchase of three new helicopters to replace STAR Flight’s ageing fleet. After extensive evaluations of proposals, the Court, earlier this year in May, authorised negotiations and purchase of three AW169 helicopters from AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corp., the highest-ranked proposer. Parent company Leonardo said these will be the first AW169s in the US to support patient transport, search and rescue, law enforcement and firefighting missions. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2018, said Leonardo.
“The replacement of the STAR Flight fleet will better position Travis County to focus on fire suppression and search and rescue services that are of critical importance due to our severe risk of wildfire and flooding,” said emergency services county executive Josh Davies. “The AW169s will provide us with a long-range tool that will better enable the County to meet the multidisciplinary needs necessary to keep the People of Travis County and central Texas safe.”
STAR Flight helicopters are used for fire suppression, search-and-rescue operations and emergency medical transportation. The new helicopters will come with increased efficiency and capacity for water drops during fire suppression calls, advanced technology, as well as other enhanced capabilities.
“The AW169’s range, payload and cabin space will allow us to better meet the needs of our patients, their families and our EMS and hospital partners,” said STAR Flight program director Casey Ping. “There is sufficient cabin space and payload for multiple clinical personnel and the critical care equipment required for the most complex cases. The cabin allows full patient access for two patients.”
Precinct 4 Commissioner Margaret Gómez commented: “The increased capabilities of these new helicopters is an enormous benefit to Travis County, and most especially to the residents southeast of the county where, for example floodwaters have and can rise quickly. I am more than pleased to know that STAR Flight will soon be rendering faster, greater services when the need is critical to saving lives.”
The manufacturer said the helicopters will feature multi-purpose interiors that can be reconfigured from medical missions to search and rescue or firefighting roles. Each will be fitted with a hoist and a 300-gallon (1,360-litre) Simplex belly tank.