HAI Convention News

Kaman, PHI Partner on Kargo UAV Commercial Operations

 - March 7, 2023, 4:00 PM
PHI plans to use Kaman's Kargo UAV logistics vehicle for its commercial operations. (Photo: Kaman Corporation)

Global helicopter services operator PHI Aviation (Booth C3820) has entered into a long-term agreement with Kaman Corporation (Booth B5620) to use Kaman’s Kargo UAV for commercial operations, the companies said Tuesday at Heli-Expo in Atlanta. As part of the new partnership, PHI has agreed to purchase 50 Kargo UAVs for its commercial operations.

Connecticut-based Kaman has been developing the Kargo UAV for a little over a year and until now has concentrated on military applications for the aircraft. The company has signed a deal with the U.S. Marine Corps to build and test a prototype for demonstration purposes. The first Kargo UAV prototype, powered by the RR300 turboshaft engine developed by Rolls-Royce (Booth B4813), “is going to fly in the not-too-distant future,” Kaman senior v-p Carroll Lane told AIN.

The Kargo UAV, which has a cargo capacity of more than 800 pounds (360 kg) and a range of 500 miles (800 km), will support uncrewed, remotely piloted missions as well as fully autonomous flights. Louisiana-based PHI, which operates a fleet of more than 250 helicopters around the world, plans to use the Kargo UAV for its commercial operations, which include offshore oil and gas, mining, emergency medical transport, and search-and-rescue services. 

“​​When we look at the technology embodied in the Kargo, what we really liked about it is that it is moving incrementally on existing technologies, using things that already work, and therefore you're going to get to market faster and be commercially viable faster,” Keith Mullett, PHI’s managing director, told AIN

Mullett explained that PHI’s partnership with Kaman will cover three key areas. First, the companies will work together to examine the addressable market “and really understand commercially where this thing is going to have success and where we should focus our efforts.” PHI will also assist Kaman in the demonstration, design, and certification of the commercial system, he said, adding that the commercial variant might be slightly different than what’s being developed for the military. The third phase of the partnership will involve the commercial launch of the Kargo UAV and signing contracts with launch customers, he said.