The somewhat odd-looking K-Max heavy-lift utility helicopter is back in production. Manufacturer Kaman Corporation announced the start of it on Friday 5 June, with the plants in Jacksonville (Florida) and Bloomfield (Connecticut) both active in the process. The first new K-Max is expected to fly out to its customer in Q1-2017.
The K-Max choppers are already used in the firefighting and logging business, where continuous aerial lift is required. Moreover, are two K-Max operational with the US Marine Corps where they have been turned into unmanned choppers by Lockheed Martin. Those USMC machines carried 4.5 million pounds of cargo during the military operations in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2014.
Launch customers of the new production K-Max include current users, like Rotex Helicopter of Switzerland and Helicopter Express of Chamblee, Georgia, USA. Rotex used the machines for forestry in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria and Germany. Rotex is ordered two new aircraft. Kaman expects the first 10 new K-Max choppers to give the company a revenue of 75 to 85 million dollar.
The original K-Max was certified for flight by the US Federal Aviation Administration in 1994. When the first production cycle ended in 2003 Kaman produced 38 machines.
The K-Max is a single-engine, single-seat helicopter, with a counter-rotating rotor system. It is optimized for external load operations with the need for vertical flight and known for its low-maintenance and operating costs, with about USD 1,200 per flight hour. The K-Max can lift up to 6,000 pounds (2,722 kg).
Featured image (top): The Kaman K-Max (Image © Kaman Corporation)