BLOOMFIELD, Conn., 5 June 2015. Kaman Corp.’s Aerosystems division has resumed production of commercial K-MAX heavy-lift utility helicopters at the company’s Jacksonville, Florida, and Bloomfield, Connecticut, facilities. Kaman is now hiring for the program. The first new helicopter is expected to be delivered in early 2017.
“This is great news for Kaman and for operators who need the K-MAX to perform their missions effectively. Our team has done a great job assessing the market and working with customers to secure enough orders to support the business case for reopening the line,” says Neal J. Keating, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Kaman.
K-MAX aircraft are used around the world for firefighting, logging, and other missions requiring repetitive aerial lift capabilities. The U.S. Marine Corps maintains two unmanned K-MAX aircraft developed with Lockheed Martin. These aircraft supported the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan for 33 months 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.
Launch customers include current K-MAX operators Rotex Helicopter AG, of Switzerland, and Helicopter Express, of Chamblee, Georgia. Rotex Helicopter AG is a long-time K-MAX operator in Europe and uses the aircraft primarily for forestry missions in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and parts of Austria and Germany. “In addition to the economic aspect, we see ecological benefits,” says Rolf Spichtig, the company’s chief executive officer. “The K-MAX makes less noise and consumes less fuel. With a payload of 2700 kg, the helicopter is very versatile. All of this makes the K-MAX the preferred helicopter for many of our customers. It is a solid solution, which is why we have placed deposits for two new aircraft.”
Kaman Aerospace Group President Greg Steiner adds: “The reopening of the production line is a positive development for our company, the industry and our customers. I am particularly pleased that Charlie Kaman’s visionary design for this unique aircraft has stood the test of time.”
“With the aircraft already fully developed and certified, the non-recurring costs to restart production are expected to be minimal,” says Chief Financial Officer Robert Starr. “The first ten aircraft produced are expected to generate revenues between $75 million and $85 million. Re-starting the K-MAX line is not expected to impact our full year 2015 outlook.”
Development of the K-MAX was led by Kaman founder and former CEO, aviation pioneer Charles H. Kaman, and received Federal Aviation Administration certification in 1994.
The single-engine, single-seat K-MAX is a rugged low-maintenance aircraft that features a counter-rotating rotor system and is optimized for external load operations and designed specifically for vertical reference flight. The aircraft can lift up to 6,000 pounds (2,722 kg).
The company will celebrate the production milestone at the Paris Air Show, June 15-21. Representatives will be available to discuss the K-MAX and Kaman’s other products and services at the Kaman Stand D118, Hall 3.