YouTube – Kaman K-MAX
13 ft. 7 in.
2 x 48 ft. 4 in.
It was December of 1991 when a Kaman K-MAX prototype first flew. The aircraft consisted of the basic airframe structure without a tailplane and fins.
In March of 1992 Charles Kaman showed the Kaman K-MAX to the public. Thus began the introduction of what has been described as an “aerial truck” that has brought a revolution in the way cargo is hauled by helicopters.
Kaman felt that the helicopter industry was focused on and dominated by passenger transports, similar to the family car. Until the Kaman K-MAX, there weren’t any dedicated helicopters for putting out blazes, construction, or cargo hauling.
The Kaman K-MAX has been called “an efficient lifting workhorse” to set new low levels of operating and maintenance expenses. It is a twin engine, single crew, heavy hauler.
The Kaman K-MAX was originally known as the MMIRA for Multiple Mission Intermesing Rotor Aircraft.
The U.S. Navy evaluated the Kaman K-MAX for resupplying ships underway at sea.
Helog, Switzerland, was the first European Kaman K-MAX operator beginning in May of 1995.
The unique twin intermeshed rotors of the K-MAX eliminate the need for a tail rotor. The arrangement enables the aircraft to use more of its engine power for lifting. In addition, it can access areas other helicopters dare not enter. The helicopter was the first designed for repetitive external lifting.
Pilots of the Kaman K-MAX can train to fly the helicopter at the Kaman Connecticut U.S.A. facility using ex-military company helicopters. The pilot’s seat is designed for support, comfort, and its ability to withstand a heavy landing. The large, angled windows around the cockpit give the pilot excellent visibility. A fuselage made from light alloy make the aircraft light weight and strong. Its tail weighs just over 79 lbs. and can easily be removed so that the helicopter may be stored in compact areas. A tricycle landing gear permits ground handling in tight spaces.
Kaman tells us that its helicopter is designed for long life and low maintenance. The engine is designed for 10,000 hours of operation and 1,500 hours between overhauls. The airframe is designed to last for over 20 years of operation, based on 1,000 hours of use per year.
The Kaman K-MAX can lift up to a 6,000 lb. load on its cargo hook. The helicopter is used for logging operations, cargo hauling, in the construction industry, and as a water and retardant dropping air tanker. In addition to the U.S., the aircraft has been sold in Canada, France, Sweden and Switzerland.
Kaman K-MAX (FireMax)
Kaman K-MAX (FireMax) helicopters have been used primarily in the northwestern United States for retardant drops and water bombing since 1995. They are known for their stability in flight and water bombing accuracy while working in extreme conditions.
The Kaman K-MAX (FireMax) is equipped with a 660 gallon belly tank that can be filled through its snorkel in around half a minute while hovering. The computerized water bombing system allows the pilot to select from six different quantities of water or foam to be dropped. A 28 gallon tank allows for the injection of foam into the drop mixture.
Kaman K-MAX UAT
Kaman Industries and Lockheed have partnered to develop the Kaman K-MAX UAT, Unmanned Aerial Truck, version of the helicopter. It is remote controlled and has the same 6,000 lb. lifting ability of the manned version.
The Kaman K-MAX UAT has been flying supply missions to Marine Corps front line bases in Afghanistan from December of 2011 through May of 2914, and has delivered over 2,250 tons of cargo, primarily food. The use of the helicopter has cut down the need for delivery vehicles to travel over roads that could be mined with improvised explosive devices. Operating costs are less than those for conventional helicopters.
Thus far the U.S. Marine Corps has deployed two Kaman K-MAX UAT vehicles in Afghanistan. Additional orders depend on the success of further missions.
Some 50 Kaman K-MAX helicopters have been produced to date.
RC Kaman K-MAX