Due to unprecedented growth and expanded operations, Starlite Aviation embarked on an ambitious fleet renewal programme in 2013. Starlite was the launch customer of the brand new Airbus Helicopter AS332C1e in November 2013. The C1e is the perfect aircraft for the global utility market. Starlite placed the first ever produced C1e on the Irish register in March 2014 and currently operates two of these aircraft on contract. During this time Starlite also acquired three Bell 412 helicopters, two of these are 412 EP models, configured to meet the requirements of the Oil and Gas Industry, which have already operated on numerous offshore contracts. In 2014 Starlite operated for the first time, two Augusta AW139 helicopters to fulfil the requirements of the Total contract awarded for offshore operations in George, South Africa. As operations continue to expand across the globe Starlite looks forward to future fleet expansion.
Starlite significantly expanded its group headquarters in Dublin in 2012 and was awarded an Air Operators Certificate by the Irish Aviation Authority. A Puma 330J, EI-SAI became the Group’s first Irish registered aircraft, operating in support of EULEX in Kosovo. Starlite also succeeded in obtaining an air service licence in Namibia and Tanzania, to drive the development of oil and gas contract work in these locations.
The new Starlite International Training Academy was built in Mossel Bay in 2012. The facility is an impressive 550sq m of hangar space, large offices, two hi-tech training rooms, seven briefing rooms and 7 heli pads. In 2013 Starlite Aero Sales became the Sole Distributor of the Elite Evolution Simulator for Africa. 2013 also saw a further expansion of Starlite’s HEMS capability, in addition to the service in Kosovo a fully-equipped HEMS aircraft was deployed as a dedicated MEDEVAC helicopter to the European Union Training Mission in Mali.
In 2008 Starlite’s ability to field and support multiple aircraft in remote and hostile environments was again put to the test when it deployed nine helicopters to Angola for election support. It was also during this year that Starlite’s Irish office was established in Dublin, now the Group’s corporate head office. Following the establishment of the European base Starlite was awarded a contract with the European Union Law Enforcement Mission in Kosovo that continues to this day. Around this time Starlite also began providing helicopter support to the Oil & Gas industry and completed a number of off and onshore support projects from 2007 onwards. In 2010 the Starlite operated Sikorsky S92 made company history by making the Group’s first ever offshore landing on the Geowave Master offshore Namibia. In 2011 Starlite expanded its helicopter fleet to include Bell 212 helicopters for the growing Oil and Gas Industry. These two Bell 212 helicopters are currently on a 5-year contract with the Department of Environmental Affairs.
In 2002 Starlite Aviation’s 3,000sq/m maintenance facilities were built in Heidelberg, Johannesburg. This facility was designed to conduct all servicing requirements needed by the Puma fleet, including all outstation logistical and material needs. To accommodate Starlite Aviation’s growth, building expansion commenced at Virginia Airport, Durban, in 2003, with two new hangers and an office block being completed. Starlite Aviation was also awarded dealership status for Robinson Helicopters. Mr Frank Robinson, owner of The Robinson Helicopter Company, officially opened the new building in September 2003.
Over the next number of years Starlite Aviation Group continued to expand both its operations and training school, with international firefighting contracts in Spain, marine salvage work in South Africa, earthquake relief support in Pakistan and life-saving HEMS missions in Sumatra.
Starlite Aviation Group was founded in South Africa in 1999, one of the group’s first rescue contracts was in support of the massive flood relief operation in Mozambique in 2000. The ability to mobilise and successfully operate three Puma 330J’s in extremely challenging circumstances set the standard by which Starlite Group would continue over the next 15 years, operations excellence in remote and challenging environments.