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Kaman Aerosystems (Kaman) has announced today that a successful first flight of a K-MAX helicopter from the newly reopened commercial production line took place on Friday, May 12, 2017. Delivery of the first two production aircraft to customer Lectern Aviation of China for a firefighting mission is scheduled to occur in the next few weeks.
“Thanks to the expertise and hard work of the men and women working on the aircraft the first flight went extremely smoothly,” said Bill Hart, Kaman chief pilot. “This new aircraft performed flawlessly and I look forward to successfully completing our production flight test schedule over the coming weeks.”
K-MAX aircraft from the reopened production line have been ordered by customers from around the world including China, Europe and North America. The aircraft is currently in use worldwide 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 successfully supported the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan for 33 months from 2011 to 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.
Development of the K-MAX was led by Kaman founder and former CEO, aviation pioneer Charlies 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 kilograms).