• 04 November 2020
  • 06:49

Starlite Aviation a Medevac Team

Starlite Aviation Operations, an Irish/South-African company, has operated H215s for medevac operations in Mali for the European Union since 2013.

Operator Starlite’s H215s are currently deployed as part of the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM), a programme for training and evacuation missions in hostile territories in Mali. The objective of this mission is to provide military training to Malian troops with the aim of achieving a lasting peace in the African country.

READY 24/7

In this context, Starlite is tasked with moving patients from remote areas to metropolitan regions where their needs can be better handled. As part of the mission, the team is on a 24/7 standby and ready to react to any medical emergency, which means sometimes flying with night vision goggles, in instrument flight conditions and also carrying out dusty landings and take-offs. “We provide an emergency medevac standby service for EUTM in Mali, 24 hours a day.


At times, we travel via helicopter to more rural locations in Mali where we may be based for 24 to 48 hours, providing medevac standby to EU military convoys,” explains Dr Jacqui Amm, Starlite flight physician. “Our main service onboard involves monitoring the patient’s condition while continuing the care that was commenced prior to loading the patient. We are also responsible for ensuring patient safety during the flight. Should the patient require medical interventions during flight, we are also able to provide these.”



“In 2014 I had my lucky break to start flying for Starlite Aviation on the bigger helicopters in Mali. I started as first officer in Mali building hours and in 2018, I had to do at least 100 hours with various requirements to be met. In 2019 I completed the programme and was signed out as command on the AS332, SA330 and the BK117,” explains Captain Daniel Erasmus, medevac pilot from Starlite. “Being a medevac pilot means that you need to be part of a team that trust each other, where every team
member knows exactly what their responsibilities are.


“I’ve always had an interest in emergency medicine, specifically trauma, and at the same time I enjoy working in unconventional environments,” explains Dr. Amm. “Already on my first rotation, we transported a Priority 1 (critical) patient who had been involved in a motor vehicle accident. After being discharged from hospital, he
was able to return to normal duty. It was a privilege to have played a small part in his path to recovery.”


The H215 has already demonstrated its ability to perform medical evacuations in the frame of humanitarian missions with Starlite in Mali and in Kosovo for EU operations. These two H215s based in Bamako are configured as air ambulances for either one or two stretcher patients. There are always four medical personnel on site: one doctor and three paramedics. During a normal medevac flight, two medical personnel per aircraft equipped with all the necessary equipment can manage even critically ill patients.

The capacity and ability of the H215 has been fundamental in allowing Starlite to function optimally in their humanitarian capacity, such as providing medevac to injured EUTM personnel following the attack on Camp Kangaba in Dougourakoro, East of Bamako, in Mali in 2017. “Such intense operations are possible thanks to the helicopter’s versatility in adapting to a host of different roles,” said Alan O’ Neill, Group COO for Starlite. This is truer than ever in this landlocked country with a variety of seasonal weather conditions, from week-long sand storms to intense tropical storms and micro bursts, along with year-round heat extremes.

Article: Belén Morant, Rotor Magazine Editor in Chief – GUCE: Airbus Helicopters

Photos: Starlite Aviation

View the original article by Belén in Issue 121 of Rotor Magazine