The newly in-production K-Max helicopter, built by Kaman Aerosystems, flew for the first time on May 12, the company announced last week. The aircraft performed “flawlessly,” said test pilot Bill Hart. “I look forward to successfully completing our production flight-test schedule over the coming weeks.” The single-seat K-Max features a counter-rotating rotor system and is designed to be rugged and low-maintenance. It’s optimized for external-load operations and vertical-reference flight. The aircraft can lift up to 6,000 pounds. The first two production aircraft are being built on a newly reopened commercial production line in Bloomfield, Connecticut. They will be delivered to a customer in China, the company said.
The K-Max design was created by Kaman founder Charles H. Kaman and certified by the FAA in 1994. It was in production through 2003. The aircraft is currently in use worldwide for firefighting, logging and other missions requiring repetitive aerial lift capabilities, the company said. The U.S. Marine Corps maintains two unmanned K-Max aircraft that were developed with Lockheed Martin, and carried more than 4.5 million pounds of cargo in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2014. Additional unmanned firefighting and humanitarian missions for K-Max are also being developed and tested, the company said.