Kaman has received a second new order for its K-Max medium-to-heavy lift helicopter in as many months. This brings to 13 the total number of firm orders since the relaunch of production in 2015.
The most recent order is from a new operator, Heli Air-Swiss, a member of Heli-Austria of St. Johann in Pongau, Austria. Heli-Austria currently operates 35 aircraft focused on emergency medical services, tourism, aerial construction and flight training. Delivery is planned for December. This order follows another for the aircraft in September from Balzers, Liechtenstein-based Rotex Helicopter, which currently operates multiple K-Maxs focused on aerial construction and logging.
The K-Max was certified in 1994 and the production line was shuttered in 2003 after 38 were built. The helicopter is designed specifically for vertical reference flight and features a counter-rotating rotor system and is optimized for external load operations. It 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 helicopters are manufactured at Kaman’s facilities in Jacksonville, Florida, and Bloomfield, Connecticut.
In May, the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) began the process of reactivating two unmanned Kaman Aerospace K-Max helicopters (CQ-24As) that were used in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom from 2011 to 2013. The helicopters are being retrofitted with the latest generation of unmanned systems and will be returned to flight status. After that, Kaman said it will continue to collaborate with the USMC to develop and integrate next-generation autonomous technology.
During its 33-month Afghanistan deployment, the unmanned K-Max moved 4.5 million pounds of cargo—the equivalent of 900 ground supply convoys, eliminating 46,000 hours of exposure to improvised explosive devices, direct fire, and other threats. The aircraft flew exclusively at night between forward operating bases and remote outposts.
Kaman also is continuing to improve the design of optionally piloted vehicles for future commercial applications, including aerial firefighting and humanitarian relief, for new and existing aircraft. Earlier this year the company said it planned on offering an unmanned configuration option for new and existing aircraft.