Kaman Aerospace has clinched its first order for a K-MAX helicopter equipped with its external passenger seat. The sale to an unnamed European customer comes around three years after development the "Class A" seat began.

The detachable metal seat, developed solely for the external lift helicopter, is designed to allow extra crew to be taken to remote sites for missions such as logging. It can carry a 90kg (200lb) load and withstand vertical acceleration of 10g and lateral acceleration of 6g.

Kaman is stepping up its marketing effort in a quest to boost its K-MAX orderbook. "We produce around five helicopters a year at the moment, but would like to double this number," says Kaman.

Sales of the single-seat machine have suffered in recent years, as one of its key markets, the logging industry, has been hit by the economic downturn in Asia. The Bloomfield, Connecticut-based company is targeting the expanding "global energy production" industry and exploiting the K-MAX's strengths in oil and gas exploration support, laying pipelines, and transporting and positioning electricity pylons.

"We are talking to utility companies and helicopter operators around the world, particularly in South America, South-East Asia and China, where the infrastructure is poor and yet the demand for power is growing," adds Kaman.

A K-MAX was recently deployed in Bolivia to construct a drilling rig and support drilling operations in an area inaccessible by road. According to Kaman, the machine has a range of 280km (150nm), with reserves, carrying a payload of more than 2,375kg at sea level. "As oil fields become more remote, the need for efficient, cost-effective, external-lift machines will become paramount," says Kaman.

Source: Flight International