- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. (AP) - Kaman Corp. is resuming production of its heavy-lift helicopter, which will be used for firefighting, logging and other tasks requiring repetitive aerial lifts, the aerospace manufacturer announced Friday.

The Bloomfield company said the K-MAX helicopter will be manufactured in Jacksonville, Florida, and Bloomfield. Production and hiring have begun, with the first helicopter expected to be delivered in 2017.

The aircraft, which can lift up to 6,000 pounds, carried cargo for the Marine Corps in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2014, returning home with exiting U.S. service members. It was certified in 1994 and production stopped in 2003. Due to economic weakness, “we weren’t selling helicopters like we thought we should,” said Terry Fogarty, director of business development at Kaman.

In the past two years, Kaman has received “worldwide inquiries” into bringing back the K-MAX, leading the company to re-start production, he said.

Launch customers include Rotex Helicopter AG of Switzerland and Helicopter Express of Chamblee, Georgia. Rotex uses the aircraft primarily for forestry missions in Switzerland, Liechtenstein and parts of Austria and Germany.

Analyst Stephen E. Levenson at Stifel said in a note to investors that he sees potential for opportunities such as firefighting and delivery of material to remote areas hit by natural disasters. Military applications also could bring orders, he said.

Levenson said he does not see a near-term impact to his financial forecasts this year or in 2016. “Longer term, we think K-MAX sales should materially boost revenue and earnings,” he said.

Kaman said the first 10 aircraft are expected to generate between $75 and $85 million in revenue. Restoring production is not expected to have an impact on Kaman’s 2015 outlook, the company said.



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