The helicopter has been installed with a $230,000 Super Lifter Kit, giving it enhanced aerodynamic performance, more speed, more efficiency and less vibration while in flight.
“I’ve flown many helicopters during my more than 40-year career, but nothing comes close to this one,” says Kris Hunt, CALSTAR’s lead pilot in South Lake Tahoe.
The helicopter is equipped with twin-engine Rolls Royce C-30P engines. “These engines are considered to be very reliable and are widely used,” said Loren Craine, Director of Maintenance for CALSTAR. “With the addition of the Super Lifter Kit, we have the best suited helicopter for the mountainous terrain in and around South Lake Tahoe and the Sierras.”
The Super Lifter Kit was manufactured by Eurocopter and installed at CALSTAR’s headquarters in Sacramento.
The modification, according to Craine, primarily involved installing new main and tail rotor blades. “They were designed using newer technology, and have produced a wide variety of benefits.” Earlier, the helicopter was equipped with Super Lifter wide chord tail rotor blades. “The combination of the new main rotor blades, tail rotor blades and the C-30P engines makes for a great helicopter,”
There are only three such helicopters in the world. One of them was owned by the late aviator and adventurer Steve Fossett, and the other is believed to be in Mexico. CALSTAR is the only air ambulance provider to have such a helicopter in service.
“This is yet another example of CALSTAR’s commitment to improving the service to the communities we serve. This enhancement provides an additional level of safety which is vital to the mountainous terrain and environment where we operate in the Sierras,” said CALSTAR Chief Operating Officer Chris Giller. Giller also noted that CALSTAR is now in its 27th year of operation and has completed more than 45,000 flights without an injury to a crew member or a patient.
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CALSTAR is a nonprofit air medical program serving California and Northern Nevada. Our mission is "to save lives, reduce disability and speed recovery for victims of trauma and illness through rapid transport, quality medical care and education."