From Scramble - The Aviation Magazine
Wytwórnia Sprzętu Komunikacyjnego „PZL-Świdnik” Spółka Akcyjna,
Aleja Lotników Polskich 1
21-045 Świdnik, Poland
Tel.: +48 814680901, +48 817512071
Fax: +48 814680919, +48 817512173
Tradition of the Polish aircraft industry goes back almost to the birth of aviation. The “Aviata” aircraft factory was founded in Warsaw 1910. In November 1918 the plant known as Central Aviation Works was established in Warsaw. The first aircraft factory in Lublin began as the Plage & Laśkiewicz Mechanical Plant but was renamed into the Lublin Aircraft Factory (LWS) in 1936 as a result of nationalization. The next factories established in 1923 were, respectively: the Aircraft Factory (PWS) in Biała Podlaska and the "Airplane" Factory in Poznań. The first state-owned aircraft factory was Polish Aviation Works (PZL), established in Warsaw 1928.
The history of the aircraft factory in Świdnik dates from 1938 when the local airfield was built. An official opening and consecration of the flight school founded by the Air and Antigas Defence League at the airfield in Świdnik took place on 4 June 1939. The school building and aircraft hangars were utilized by September 1939 only as bombs destroyed them during the air raid. Later the airfield and school building were used by the Nazi invaders but in 1944 were completely destroyed by retreating German troops.
Based on the aviation tradition in the Lublin region in the interim years between World War II, going back to the Lublin Aircraft Factory and Aircraft Factory in Biała Podlaska as well as wanting to utilize the existing base provided by the airfield, the government authorities have made a decision on locating and building the aircraft enterprise in Świdnik.
The design activities were initiated in the first half-year of 1949 while the first design concepts were elaborated in April through June that year by the Transportation Equipment Factory Investment & Restoration Department - Warsaw - Okęcie. During that period, this Department was the main investor for restoration and development of domestic aircraft industry.
The design concepts were submitted on 30 June 1949 to the Design Office at the "Prozamet" Industrial Works in Gliwice. The preliminary work aimed at developing the technical documentation in the form of general assumptions and predesign for the Factory No. 5 in Świdnik began there. In order to accomplish engineering projects and execute building work, the Structural Mechanics Departments at the Institutes of Technology in Gdańsk and Poznań as well as the Warsaw Industrial Building Design Office joined the team of designers in May 1950.
On 1 January 1951, following the Resolution of Council of Ministers and Decree of Minister of Heavy Industry dated 14.12.1950; the Central Board of Transportation Equipment Industry in Warsaw founded the Transportation Equipment Factory No. 5 in Świdnik. The period 1950-1953 saw the utmost intensification of building work.
The first workshops were erected between 1950 and 1952 using the constructions relocated from Krzesin near to Poznań. The basic manufacturing, auxiliary and service facilities were commissioned in 1953.
In 1951 the Factory was given a task to set up the Soviet Union licensed manufacture of all-metal jet fighter MiG-15.
After the MiG-15 license documentation had been supplied (i.e. complete engineering drawings, detailed engineering process documents, tooling and jig drawings, engineering requirements, specifications, standards and other aids), the translation work and adaptation of documents to local requirements began. Simultaneously, the same production line was launched in WSK Mielec where translation work was also done and the WSK Świdnik Personnel were trained.
By the end of 1952, the then Central Board of Transportation Equipment Industry introduced radical changes in the WSK Świdnik production structure. A decision was made that Świdnik would be a co-operating plant for WSK Mielec instead of being the end product manufacturer. Świdnik was to produce wings, stabilizer, engine mount, engine-carriage and pilot's seat only. The first wings and control surfaces had been built in 1952 and submitted to WSK Mielec where the final assembly of the airplane originally designated LIN-1 took place. The rear fuselage subcontract program was launched in 1953.
Still in 1953, the possibility to launch the production of refrigerating compressors or the TS-8 "Bies" airplane was initially investigated. However, in 1954 the Świdnik factory finally was assigned to be the first and sole helicopter manufacturer. Another production profile became the manufacture of motorbikes.
The factory set about preparing the licence production of the Mi-1 helicopter first and in the second turn launched the production of the MO6 motorbikes with an engine capacity of 125cc. Similarly as in case of the MiG-15 jet fighter, the Soviet technical documentation applicable to the Mi-1 helicopter must have been translated and adapted first.
Although series helicopters, entirely made by Świdnik, began to leave the factory in 1957, the first four units, which had been supplied by the licenser in ready-assembled forms, were ready in 1956. Since then, Świdnik became one of the six helicopter manufacturers of that time all over the world.
On 28 September 1957, the Świdnik factory was solemnly named after the famous pre-war aircraft designer, engineer Zygmunt Puławski. Since that times a full name of the factory has sounded as: the Zygmunt Puławski Transportation Equipment Factory "PZL Świdnik". In 1958 a socle was erected in front of the main entrance gate and a metallic model of the P-7 fighter designed by Z. Puławski was placed on it.
The then WSK Świdnik was a multi-company enterprise composed of the parent company in Świdnik with the Aviation Plant, Motorbike Plant, Agricultural Services Plant, Transportation Equipment Research & Development Center and the branch subsidiary company founded in Tomaszów Lubelski 1969.
Apart from the aircraft equipment, a number of other products were produced by WSK Świdnik. Manufactured on the largest scale was the motobike. The one-track (two-wheeled) vehicle production began in 1954. Next year we managed to manufacture 3,126 WSK machines. In 1963 we were granted a license production for Mi-2 helicopters from the former Soviet Union. The Mi-2 series production did not start until in 1965.
Between 1972 and 1977, WSK PZL Świdnik launched and produced the SZD-30 Pirat sailplanes. After halting this production in Świdnik, it was resumed by SZLS Delta Bielsko Biała where the design of this sailplane had been devised.
From 1967 WSK Świdnik was also a manufacturer of pumps and clutches intended for the JELCZ trucks and Berliet-licensed buses as well as of reefer containers installed on the STAR or JELCZ trucks chassis in order to convert them to reefers.
By the Resolution of Minister of Machine Building Industry dated 17 August 1967- the Helicopter Testing Plant was founded at WSK Świdnik. The activity of this Plant was linked to fulfilment of tasks aimed at modernization, retrofit and design developments of the existing products thus leading to the manufacture of their new versions.
The Moscow Helicopter Plant, the Aviation Institute, the Warsaw Technical University, the Cracow Technical University, the Maria Curie Skłodowska University and the Military Technical Academy aided this activity. On 18 March 1972, the WSK Helicopter Testing Plant was transformed to the Transportation Equipment Research & Development Center following the Resolution of Minister of Machine Building Industry. The Center profile covered complex scientific- research and development-, construction-, technological-design and testing activities in the scope of helicopters and motor bikes.
The branch subsidiary companies in Tomaszów Lubelski and Lubowidz, supported by the R&D Center, contributed to the manufacture of motorization products. The Branch Company in Tomaszów Lubelski was engaged in producing motorbike components and assemblies while the production in Lubowidz was concentrated on aircraft composite components.
1974 was a crucial breakthrough year for the Research & Development Center as for the first in the country history the work aimed at devising own design of helicopter began. The result of these activities was the PZL-Sokół helicopter design.
New technologies were introduced to the company for bonding large-sized assemblies or machining parts of sophisticated configuration. This co-operation resulted in launching the production of fuselage structure and other assemblies for the An-28 airplane.
By the early 1980s WSK Świdnik manufactured over 5,000 Mi-2 helicopters, over 2 million motorbikes and over 70 thousand clutches.
The first aircraft products of WSK Świdnik were assemblies for the MiG 15 jet-propelled fighter manufactured in co-operation with WSK Mielec. The factory first came into contact with the helicopter engineering in 1954 when the series license production of the Mi-1 helicopter (designated SM-1 in Poland) was set up at Świdnik.
The design features of this helicopter were: piston engine propulsion (model AI-26W, the licensed version was under designation LIT-3 (575 shp), metallic-wooden blades of main rotor, friction dampers in the main rotor hub, fuselage of a framework structure covered with sheet-metal skin, direct control (without hydraulic boosters), three-blade tail rotor (with wooden blades) and three-cycle landing gear. The first flight of the first SM-1/300 assembled by Świdnik was made on 23 March 1956. The SM-1/300 was the equivalent version of the Soviet Mi-1T helicopter like the SM-1/600 of the Soviet Mi-1A and the SM-1W of the Soviet Mi-1M helicopter.
The SM-1/600 helicopter first flew on 29 May 1959 while the SM-1W on 28 November 1960. A number of specialized versions were introduced during the SM-1 helicopter production beginning from the air ambulance version with the enclosed nacelles installed outside and designed for transportation of casualties to the SM-1Wb with boosters (first flew on 23 December 1963). The boosted version of helicopter brought significant innovations, such as: all-metal blades of main rotor and hydraulic boosters for rotor cyclic and collective pitch control.
In the years 1957-1960, the SM-1 helicopter was modified. A new version, designated SM-2 was of the changed configuration and enlarged cabin (the first flight on 3 February 1961). The helicopter could accommodate 5 persons on flight deck. Only a limited batch of this helicopter was produced and, next was used by the Polish Land Forces. Further developed from the SM-2, was the medevac version where, contrary to the SM-1 helicopter, the patient was carried inside the cabin (not in the enclosed nacelle). Owing to that, the medical attendance could be provided while in flight. Transportation of the stretcher into the cabin was effected through an open forward part of the fuselage. The SM-2 sea rescue version was equipped with inflatable flotation bags to prevent the helicopter from sinking when emergency landing on the water.
In the years 1958-1959, the original project was realised, i.e. the SM-4 Łątka helicopter of design fully devised by personnel reporting to the General Designer of Helicopters. Development activities covered as follows: engineering drawings, calculations and fabrication of helicopter examples for static ground and flight tests.
The design features of the SM-4 Łątka were: opposed-piston engine propulsion, composite blades of main and tail rotors, fuselage and tail boom (without skin) of framework structure, composite transparent cockpit and composite skid-type landing gear. The project was brought to the ground tests stage but later was halted due to the engine problems, among others.
At the same time the work was being pursued on composite blades for SM-1 and SM-2 helicopters. This activity was completed with releasing a limited batch of blades originally designated L-251, next their variant was known as L-253. In 1959 the blades were introduced into trial service.
In 1965 the licensed helicopter Mi-2 introduced to the series production replaced the SM-1. Design features: two GTD-250 turboshafts, all-metal blades of main and tail rotors, hydraulic dampers in the rotor hub, two-blade tail rotor ("rigid on hinge"), hydraulic boosters in the control system, semi-monocoque fuselage, a comprehensive fit of instruments and avionics. The forecast availability of turbine engines gave rise to resuming work on the SM-4 Łątka in a modified version with the turbine propulsion. The preliminary modification design was under designation SM-4T. The weak point of this predesign was the necessity to throttle the GTD-350 engine power after installation on the "Łątka" airframe. Finally, this project has not been approved for further development. In place of this project, the Design Office was given the objective to develop a predesign for a new, light helicopter that would be fit for a single GTD-350 turboshaft. The helicopter predesign was developed between 1964 and 1965 originally under designation SM-6. Unfortunately, this project foundered due to restructure of the company and foundation of the Helicopter Testing Plant.
The Testing Plant has developed a number of the Mi-2 helicopter versions. The most significant, with respect to the design changes embodied, was the version designated Mi-2M. This version was developed between 1968 and 1972 and first was flown on 1 January 1974. The Mi-2M fuselage was more functional. Also, an integral fuel tank was provided. This version has been never introduced into the series production, mainly due to excessive weight.
However, it had successfully passed all ground and flight tests. Several units were at disposal of WSK Świdnik.
The Mi-2 version that permanently went to the series production was the training version. Other versions were: agricultural with single or dual controls; passenger with single or dual controls, freighter with single or dual controls, medevac with single or dual controls, passenger in VIP configuration, version with TV cameras, version adapted for
measuring apparatus of the Telecommunication Institute, agricultural with atomizers for LV or LUV spraying, version adapted for geophysical prospecting work and many specialized military versions.
As a result of the decision on forming branch research & development centers, the existing Testing Plant was converted in 1972 into Transport Equipment Research & Development Center (OBR-SK in short). This Center has overtaken the functions of the former Testing Plant expanded by the series production design activities and a part of the series flight trials.
OBR began the original project of the PZL Sokół helicopter. The activities were carried on in collaboration with the Moscow Helicopter Plant and supported by subcontract programs with other WSK factories in Poland. The first work covered: engineering design in the form of engineering drawings, helicopter mock-up, prototype for static, fatigue ground and flight tests.
Basic design features of the PZL Sokół: increased load-carrying capacity when compared with the Mi-2, powerplant composed by two-turboshafts upgraded by OBR NL Rzeszów based on the Soviet aircraft engine, four-blade main rotor, three-blade tail rotor, composite blades of both rotors, horizontal stabilizer, rocker-type kinematic linkage of the landing gear. Today, the PZL W-3A Sokół is the main product offered by PZL.
A half-prototype modification version of the Mi-2 helicopter has been designated PZL-Kania. Modification constituted in installation of a new powerplant in place of the former GTD-350 turboshaft. The modification activities have been conducted since 1978.
The most important design features and modifications of PZL-Kania are: two-Allison C20B gas turbine engines, a fully articulated three-blade main rotor, two-blade tail rotor (all blades are composite and equipped with the electrical anti-icing system). The cabin can accommodate up to 10 passengers including a pilot. The additional baggage compartment of 0.4 m3 in volume is accessible from inside the passenger cabin.
The cabin can accommodate up to 1200 kg of internal cargo. The helicopter can-carry slung loads up to 800 kg using the external cargo sling. It is provided with the Bendix/King avionics or other if requested by a Customer, doubled DC supply system, engine cowlings of modified shape, deflector reducing the helicopter vibrations, new design concepts implemented in the transmission system and other helicopter systems, engine control and powerplant monitoring systems that increase the safety of operation and reliability while in flight. The first flight of PZL Kania was on 3 June 1979.
PZL Świdnik was also the manufacturer of the PZL ML-1 powered hang-glider having as the only aircraft of such a type the Polish Type Certificate granted on 17.06.1993. Design features: ROTAX 5032V two-stroke, two-cylinder air-cooled engine of 496.7 cc made by the Austrian BOMBARDIER ROTAX company, 37 kW power (50 shp), 6500 rpm.
Further design features are: manual rope-type engine starting, three-blade composite push airscrew of pitch adjustable on ground, load-carrying capacity of 200 kg and the maximum take-off weight of 345 kg. Recently, the production of this powered hang glider has been assigned to another manufacturer.
In November 1991 the company began the project aimed at designing a completely new, compact light, single turboshaft multipurpose helicopter, PZL SW-4. So far four prototypes have been built, two for ground tests and two are flying prototypes. The first flight was made by the prototype No. 3 on 29 October 1996.
The PZL SW-4 helicopter (MTOW of 1800 kg) is able to carry up to 5 persons (1 pilot and 4 passengers). Intended versions include: training, passenger–cargo, transport, EMS, border patrol and military.
Design features: one Rolls-Royce Allison 250-C20R turboshaft, transmission rating 336 kW (450 shp) for take-off, three-blade main rotor and two-blade tail rotor. All rotor blades are GFRP/epoxy made, skid-type landing gear, airframe components are mainly of aluminium alloy and GFRP/epoxy. The helicopter has rearward-sliding doors on each side of cabin and one front hinged door.
The door construction, without a centre pillar, provides for convenient access to the cabin. The baggage compartment of 0.85 m3 in volume is aft of the passenger cabin. The helicopter is equipped with the Bendix/King avionics for VFR and IFR flights, day and night. Type certification and introduction into the series production are planned during 2002.
Presently, PZL-Świdnik is the sole manufacturer of the PW-5 single-seat glider designed by the Aircraft Composite Structure Scientific Research Group at the Warsaw University of Technology. It is the latest Polish glider, winner of the "World-Class Glider" competition announced in 1993 by FAI.
The PW-5 is all-composite glider (glass-fibre epoxy). Performance: max. gliding ratio: 33 (at speed of 80 km/h), never exceed speed: 220 km/h, ring span: 13.44 m, empty weight: 190 kg, allowed gross weight (in flight): 300 kg.
The latest aircraft produced by PZL-Świdnik is a two-seat glider designated PW-6. Performance: max. gliding ratio: 34 (at speed of 95 km/h), never exceed speed: 260 km/h, wing span: 16 m, empty weight: 340 kg, allowed gross weight (in flight): 530 kg.
The next aircraft, production of which is planned to be located at Świdnik is a four-seat all-composite I-23 airplane. The General Purpose Airplanes Plant at the Aviation Institute in Warsaw originally devised the design.
It is a single-engine, low-wing monoplane with conventional flying controls, three-cycle retractable landing gear and dual controls. Upwards-opening door, on each side, provide for free access to a four-seat cabin. The structure is mainly composite (GFRP/CFRP) epoxy with sandwich skins including aramid honeycomb core. Attachments made of alloy steel. Wing ribs made of duraluminum. Power plant: one 180 shp 4-cylinder Lycoming 0-360 engine. Hartzel two-blade tail rotor of constant rpm. The airplane is equipped with the Bendix/King avionics allowing IFR flights. Take-off weight: 1050 kg, never exceed speed: 315 km/h, cruise speed: 280 km/h, max. range: 1430 km.
The I-23 airplane may be intended for private owners with the view of fast and long-distance travelling, for flying clubs or flight schools for training pilots in IFR flights. In October 2001 the PZL I-23 was granted the Polish type certificate.
- PZL SM-1
- PZL SM-2
- PZL Mi-2
- PZL Mi-2 plus
- PZL Kania
- PZL W-3 Sokół
- PZL SW-4 Puszczyk
- PZL PW-5
- PZL PW-6
- PZL I-23
0502 PZL W-3RL Sokół seen at Kresziny (EPKS) nov'06.
0203 PZL SW-4 seen at Kresziny (EPKS) nov'06.