K-MAX offering new commercial UAV kits

By Luke Geiver | January 29, 2020

A rugged low-maintenance aircraft optimized for external load operations that was first certified in 1994 is once again impacting the aviation market. Kaman Corp. announced this month it has developed a new, commercial unmanned aircraft system kit for its K-MAX platform to be used across the country.

In parallel with a military K-MAX project, Kaman is developing a new K-MAX UAS kit for commercial applications with first flight scheduled in Q3 2020. Helicopter Express Inc. of Chamblee, GA and Swanson Group Aviation of Glendale, Oregon are the launch customers and have placed orders for unmanned system kits for delivery in 2021. According to the company, there is also interest from other K-MAX operators, such as ROTAK of Anchorage, AK who has identified a need for autonomous helicopter operations in the remote regions of Alaska.

The new unmanned kit will be installed on existing aircraft as well as on new production K-MAX helicopters.

Kaman also announced this month another program that will advance its military usage of the K-MAX.

The U.S. Marine Corps has two K-MAX air vehicles that are being upgraded through a contract with the US Navy and will include enhanced autonomous capabilities including a new unmanned system, ground control station, and sensor-based autonomy.

“We have a combat proven system that sustained over 95 percent readiness while in the field. Looking ahead the next generation aircraft will leverage advancements in unmanned technologies and will add new autonomy capabilities,” said Romin Dasmalchi, senior director business development of the Kaman Air Vehicles division.