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News > Austin-Travis STAR Flight rescue saves multiple lives with EC145s

Austin-Travis STAR Flight rescue saves multiple lives with EC145s

STAR Flight EC145

September 10, 2010

Grand Prairie, Texas – Three STAR Flight EC145s spent several hours in the early morning hours of Wednesday, September 8 responding to distress calls and successfully rescuing 13 people from flood waters, caused by Tropical Storm Hermine, throughout the region around Austin, Texas. The rescue operation was the largest to date for the unit’s EC145s.

“The weather conditions were very adverse with high winds and heavy rains during much of the time the aircraft were deployed,” said Willy Culberson, Director of Operations for STAR Flight. Culberson piloted one of the three EC145s, which rescued an emergency crew stranded in a zodiac boat that had been attempting to make their own rescues. “The precision of the controls of the EC145 was incredible and allowed us to perform a stationary hover over a very small area and lower a rescuer on our hoist into the boat to pick up the occupants and bring them back into the helicopter.”

STAR Flight has been flying the EC145s since 2006. They are certified for single pilot IFR operation and in addition to the hoist are equipped with Night Vision Goggles (NVG). According to Culberson the NVGs were used by both the helicopter pilots and the hoist crew.

“The NVGs were a great asset enhancing the crew’s ability to perform the rescues at night in adverse weather conditions,” continued Culberson. “The increased load capacity, fuel capacity, and large cabin size of the EC145 also contributed to the success of our operation. We were able to get to the scene quickly and once there we could pick up multiple people at a time, accommodate them in the cabin of the helicopter, and continue to respond to additional calls for help.”

“We are very proud of the excellent work performed by the crew and staff of STAR Flight,” said Marc Paganini, American Eurocopter President and CEO. “Their bravery and perseverance under extremely adverse conditions is commendable and we are pleased that the EC145 was up to the task required and performed as it was designed to do.”

The EC145, powered by two Turbomeca ARRIEL engines, offers excellent performance, a fast cruise speed and advanced technologies. With the its high set main and tail rotors, rear-loading clamshell doors, large cabin, extra payload capacity, unmatched visibility and additional safety features the EC145 has become the helicopter platform of choice for EMS and other missions.

STAR Flight (Shock Trauma Air Rescue) began operation in 1985 to provide Advanced Life Support response and transport to the citizens in the outlying areas of Travis County. Soon after the program's inception the operation expanded into the more regional basis it is today. In 1993 STAR Flight enhanced its operations to include helicopter rescue, land/water rescue, wilderness/SAR (search and rescue), and fire suppression. Scene flights and hospital-to-hospital transfers comprise over ninety percent of STAR Flight responses.

About American Eurocopter
American Eurocopter is a helicopter manufacturer that produces, markets, sells and supports the broadest range of civil and para-public helicopters offered by any manufacturer in the United States. The company is a subsidiary of EADS North America Holdings, the North American operations of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services, and is an affiliate of Eurocopter, the largest helicopter manufacturer in the world. American Eurocopter’s product line represents the most cost-effective, technologically-advanced helicopters, ranging from light single to heavy twin, serving all markets and missions. Company headquarters and main facilities are located in Grand Prairie, TX, with a large manufacturing and production facility in Columbus, MS, that produces the UH-72A for the U.S. Army’s Light Utility Helicopter program.

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