Kaman Air Vehicles performed the maiden flight with the world’s first heavy-lift unmanned helicopter for the commercial market, the K-MAX TITAN, last month.
Kaman’s K-MAX helicopter has been flying unmanned cargo missions for US forces in Afghanistan for roughly a decade now. Now, the company is introducing a commercial version to the market.
With a focus on enabling safety and operational efficiency, the unmanned helicopter will redefine the helicopter external lift market by increasing future mission capabilities in any location and any type of weather. This is made possible thanks to the so-called autonomous Near Earth Autonomy’s sensor-based autonomy suite.
At the same time, Kaman is working with the U.S. Marine Corps on upgrading the autonomous capabilities of their two USMC K-MAX air vehicles through a funded government contract. These will also receive the unmanned system and Near-Earth sensor, and the flight-testing is expected to start in May 2021.
The Kaman K-MAX “aerial truck” is a rugged, low-maintenance aircraft that features a counter-rotating rotor system and is optimized for repetitive external load operations. The aircraft can tow up to 2,722 kg of external cargo with a cable and hook system at a cruising speed of 80 kn (148 km/h).
“We are excited to reach this major milestone on K-MAX TITAN – watching this capability take to the skies and knowing that we are going to solve some of the toughest challenges for our commercial and military customers,” stated Roger Wassmuth, Senior Director, Business Development, Air Vehicles Division.