Kaman Aerospace announced on 17 January inducting the first airframe into a re-opened assembly line in Bloomfield, Connecticut, for the K-Max heavy-lift helicopter, ending a 14-year hiatus.
The first K-Max off the re-opened assembly line should be delivered to a customer in the second quarter, with “multiple deliveries” following in 2017, Kaman says.
“Producing the initial airframe is an important milestone for the programme,” says Drake Klotzman, general manager for Kaman’s Air Vehicles and MRO Division.
Kaman built 38 K-Max helicopters over a 10-year production run that began in 1994. Using an inter-meshing main rotor system, the aircraft found application mainly in the forestry sector, supporting loggers and firefighting agencies.
In the last decade, the US Marine Corps used an unmanned version of the K-Max helicopter to deliver supplies to remote operating bases in Afghanistan.
By 2015, Kaman had announced plans to restart commercial production of the manned version due to strong demand.
Kaman also is developing and testing new roles for unmanned K-Max helicopters, including firefighting and humanitarian applications, the company says.