HAI Convention News

Firemax operators now have a choice of approved water tanks

 - February 18, 2008, 5:41 AM

The helicopter division of Kaman Aerospace (Booth No. 2447) announced that it is offering a second water tank option for K-Max helicopter operators. The Bloomfield, Conn.-based company will continue to offer the Kawak Aviation Technologies 700-gallon fixed-tank system, but operators can now also opt for an FAA-certified fixed-tank system from Isolair Helicopter Systems. The K-Max is called a Firemax helitanker when either water tank system is attached for firefighting purposes.

The two tanks can transport the same amount of water or foam, but their shapes differ, according to Terry Fogarty, director of K-Max programs. The Isolair water tank is U-shaped and slightly taller than the Kawak tank, Fogarty said. “It is Isolair’s belief that this higher water level will allow better dispersal of the water,” he said.

Fogarty noted that K-Max helicopters were used “extensively” last year in a number of emergency response duties, including firefighting, disaster relief and search and rescue. According to Kaman, the K-Max can lift more than it weighs–6,000 pounds–and burns 82 gallons of fuel per hour during lift operations. Fogarty said the helicopters were “instrumental in battling devastating fires that swept the U.S.”

In addition to using the K-Max water tanks to fight fires, operators last year also used SEI Bambi Buckets, which can also carry 700 gallons of water and are suspended by 100-foot lines so the pilot can drop the water closer to the fire. Helicopters that use water tanks can’t release the water as close to the ground as those using Bambi Buckets, but the pilot can control the amount of water flow from the tank. “It can dump all the water out at once, or it can do a partial dump over a stretch of land,” Fogarty said. “It all depends on what’s required and how the [operators] want the aircraft to be used.”

In addition to announcing the second water tank option, the company is also offering subcontracting work through its HeliworX Division. The company’s capabilities include manufacturing, remanufacturing, component production, wire harness production, tool design and manufacture, bonding and detailing. “We’re offering ourselves as a subcontractor with an OEM advantage,” Fogarty said. “We know what it takes to make aviation parts, and we have the infrastructure as an OEM to make subcontract parts. That means we know how to make the part, we know how to make it on time, and we know how to make it at the cost that we agreed to.” Other capabilities include design/analysis, manufacturing, flight test and flight solutions.

In related news, Kaman Corp., parent company of Kaman Aerospace, recently appointed Neal Keating as president and CEO, succeeding Paul Kuhn who is retiring. Keating joined Kaman last September, after serving as COO of Hughes Supply, a $5.4 billion industrial distribution business acquired by Home Depot. He began his career with Rockwell Automation and rose during 24 years to executive v-p and COO of Rockwell Collins Commercial Systems.

Kaman Aerospace also announced that Clifford Gunsallus, the helicopters division vice president of engineering, has been named chairman of the board
of the Center for Rotorcraft Innovation, an industry-academia consortium for collaborative pre-competitive research and development and technology transfer with the U.S. government. “Our mission is to bring together the best of the U.S. helicopter industry, academia and government institutions to enhance this country’s preeminence in rotorcraft technology,” he said upon his selection.