Kaman Corporation announced today that its Aero-systems division has resumed production of commercial K-MAX heavy-lift utility helicopters and will roll out its first new helicopter in early 2017.
K-MAX aircraft are used for firefighting, logging and other missions requiring repetitive aerial lift capabilities. The US Marine Corps maintains two unmanned K-MAX aircraft developed with Lockheed Martin. These aircraft successfully supported the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan for thirty-three 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,” said 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.”
“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,” said Neal J. Keating, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Kaman.
Kaman Aerospace Group President Greg Steiner added, “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.”
Chief Financial Officer, Robert Starr commented, “K-MAX production will result in a manageable near term investment in working capital and modest capital expenditures. With the aircraft already fully developed and certified, the non-recurring costs to restart production are expected to be minimal. 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.”
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.