The first new-production heavy lift Kaman K-1200 K-Max made its first flight on May 12. It is the first of two helicopters slated for delivery to China's Lectern Aviation next month for firefighting missions. New-production K-Max helicopters have been ordered by customers in China, North America and Europe. In April Kaman announced an additional order for two K-Max from Rotak Helicopter Services of Anchorage, Alaska for deliveries expected next year. Through the beginning of this month, the order book for new production K-Maxes stood at eight. Kaman intends to keep its new K-Max production line open through at least 2019.
Kaman announced its intention to relaunch production in 2015. Additional relaunch customers announced in 2015 include Rotex Helicopter of Switzerland and Helicopter Express of Chamblee, Ga. The Rotex helicopter should also deliver next month. The fourth new airframe arrived at Kaman's Connecticut plant for assembly on June 8. Kaman plans to build 10 K-Max in the initial production restart run. “We're moving right along,” said Terry Fogarty, Kaman's director of business development. “People are interested in the aircraft.”
The K-Max was certified in 1994 and the production line was shuttered in 2003 after 38 were built. A dozen have been written off due to accidents. The helicopter can lift up to 6,000 pounds externally and is powered by a single Honeywell T53-17 turboshaft flat rated to 1,500 shp (takeoff). The single-seat K-Max features a countra-rotating intermeshing rotor system, is optimized for external load operations, and designed specifically for vertical reference flight.
The U.S. Marine Corps maintains two unmanned K-Max aircraft developed with Lockheed Martin. These aircraft successfully supported the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan for from 2011-2014 carrying more than 4.5 million pounds of cargo. Additional unmanned firefighting and humanitarian missions for K-Max are also being developed and tested. During a demonstration in 2014, an unmanned K-Max lifted and dropped more than 24,000 pounds of water onto a target fire in an hour.