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The Warsaw Voice » Business » July 29, 2011
Business & Economy
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Helicopter Firm Turns 60
July 29, 2011   
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Helicopter factory WSK PZL-安idnik in the eastern town of 安idnik is marking 60 years in business this year. Since last year, the factory has been owned by Anglo-Italian group AgustaWestland.

The factory was built in 1951. At first, it manufactured components for the Mig-15 fighter. Several years later the factory launched production of the SM-1 and Mi-2 helicopters under Soviet license. Another helicopter manufactured by the factory, the Kania (Kitty Hawk), was developed on the basis of these two designs. The first helicopter to have been fully designed and built by WSK PZL-安idnik was the Sok馧 (Falcon). Its production started in 1985 and it is still the factory’s flagship product. The helicopter comes in many versions—it is used by police, the air ambulance service, mountain rescue service and firefighters.

WSK PZL-安idnik is now one of the few factories in the world manufacturing helicopters of their own design. So far WSK PZL-安idnik has produced over 7,300 helicopters of various kinds. Apart from complete helicopters—the SW-4, Sok馧 and G逝szec—it also makes aircraft parts and components, including fuselages, wing center sections, control surfaces and door mechanisms. Among the customers are ATR, Cessna, Eurocopter, Boeing, Aerospatiale, and Pilatus.

Almost 3,000 workers are now employed at the factory. Nicola Bianco, vice-president and managing director at WSK PZL 安idnik, said the company’s revenue is expected to reach zl.500 million this year, followed by zl.600-650 million in 2012. Since last year WSK PZL-安idnik has acquired orders for 39 helicopters. Since November WSK PZL-安idnik engineers have been working with AgustaWestland on the prototype of an unmanned helicopter based on the SW-4 model manufactured in 安idnik. “Its first flight is planned in 2012,” Bianco said. AgustaWestland has signed a contract with the Italian defense ministry to develop aircraft that could be used in maritime missions or in operations involving the transport of cargo to out-of-the-way or dangerous locations. The SW-4 is a light single-engine, five-seat multi-purpose helicopter. Its weight is the lightest of all the helicopters in the AgustaWestland product line. One of its uses is pilot training.
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