Rotak Helicopter Services, an Alaska-based helicopter operator specialising in aerial construction activities, wildfire suppression, disaster relief and power line construction, has been selected to provide two Type 1 helicopters for wildfire suppression. The United States Forest Service (USFS) has awarded 40 per cent of all Type 1 large helicopter exclusive use contracts to K-MAX helicopter operators. These four-year contracts ensure immediate resources are available to the USFS when the need for firefighting arises.
“The K-MAX continues to be a proven aerial firefighter worldwide, and is the most cost effective Type 1 helicopter in service today,” says Roger Wassmuth, USFS senior director of business development. “We are extremely proud of our K-MAX operators and pleased the USFS has decided to increase the number of K-MAXs on exclusive use contracts.”
“We are very excited to operate our K-MAX helicopters to support the USFS; it's a great platform with a proven historical record,” says Ely Woods, general manager of Rotak.
“Kaman is honoured to provide a product that allows K-MAX operators to successfully support the USFS firefighting operations, and our employees are proud of the role the K-MAX plays in reducing personal loss to all Americans who are impacted by wildfires. We stand by with parts and support to ensure our operators are available to aid the USFS in this critical function,” says Darlene Smith, vice president and general manager of the Kaman Air Vehicles division.
The K-MAX is a rugged, low-maintenance aircraft that features a counter-rotating rotor system and is optimised for cyclical, external load operations. The aircraft can lift up to 6,000 pounds (2,722 kg). The first unmanned helicopter was flown by Kaman in 1953.