Queensland’s CareFlight Group in partnership with Kaan Air, a European utility operator and Finmeccanica Helicopters and Russian Helicopters distributor, have launched StarFlight Australia to provide EMS, SAR and firefighting helicopter services throughout Australasia.
The joint venture company was launched at CareFlight’s Brisbane Airport base on April 8 by StarFlight chairman Ferda Yildiz along with its deputy chairman and former Queensland Premier Rob Borbidge, StarFlight chief executive John Skeen and CareFlight Queensland’s chief executive Ashely van de Velde.
“Our company is new but the two organisations of Kaan Air and CareFlight Group bring more than 50 years of combined industry experience to the table,” said Yildiz. “We can offer Australian, New Zealand and Asia Pacific organisations new solutions for their rotary wing requirements.”
Preferring to partner with current operators rather than compete, StarFlight has access to factory new Kamov Ka-32A11BCs for firefighting and Finmecannica Helicopters’ (AgustaWestland) range of EMS and SAR machines and says it will provide government agencies, commercial entities and operators in the Asia Pacific region with turn-key solutions for emergency response, surveillance, aerial firefighting, utility and logistical transport services.
“StarFlight can access the latest EASA and CASA approved Kamov Ka-32A11BC helicopter, fully equipped and compliant for firefighting in Australia and South East Asia regions,” said Skeen. “There’s a lot of pressure on governments and service providers to increase firefighting resources throughout the country, particularly in terms of rotary wing attack. Recent experience in Spain demonstrated the effectiveness of the Kamov Ka-32A11BC using a Bambi Bucket to fight fires. It functioned well in ambient temperatures up to 45 degrees Celsius.”
StarFlight builds on the European HeliStar brand, another joint venture between Kaan Air and Air Methods, one of the largest HEMS and flight training operators in the US, to provide training services through CareFlight’s training academy at Brisbane Airport. “We provide turn-key academy-based or operator-based training for any HEMS and SAR program,” said Skeen. “The introduction next year of a full flight Level D AW139 flight simulator will increase training capability substantially.”