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The Warsaw Voice » Business » April 26, 2012
Business & Economy
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Black Hawks Made in Poland
April 26, 2012   
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The Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation of the United States has so far invested over $125 million in the Polskie Zakłady Lotnicze (PZL Mielec) aircraft manufacturer in Mielec, a town in what is known as Aviation Valley in southeastern Poland. The funds have allowed PZL Mielec to create 700 new jobs and to triple sales.

The Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a leading global producer of helicopters, acquired 100 percent of PZL Mielec five years ago, enabling the company to thoroughly modernize its three largest production halls and hangars and introduce modern quality management systems. According to PZL Mielec president Janusz Zakręcki, before Sikorsky became involved in the company, its development was obstructed by insufficient capital and limited access to global markets. “Helicopters and airplanes which PZL Mielec produces today outperform competition around the world in terms of quality and price,” Zakręcki said. “As a result, we have been able to continuously expand the local supply chain and we have been working extensively with the science and research sector. The success of PZL Mielec is a win-win situation for the entire aerospace sector in Poland.”

The privatization of PZL Mielec, handled by the Industrial Development Agency (ARP), has proved to be a model of successful foreign investment in Poland. So far, Sikorsky has invested over $125 million in PZL Mielec. According to Robert Kokorda, vice-president of sales and marketing for Sikorsky, as one of the largest investors in the Aviation Valley, Sikorsky gave a powerful boost to Poland’s aviation industry when it helped PZL Mielec become one of the world’s top aircraft manufacturers.

Just three years after the privatization agreement was signed, PZL Mielec completed building its first S-70i, the latest, international version of the Black Hawk helicopter. Different versions of the Black Hawk, regarded as the best multi-role helicopter in the world, are used by governments in 29 countries. So far, the Polish manufacturer has produced 12 such helicopters and sold them to buyers in Saudi Arabia, Mexico and several other countries. At the end of last year, the Ministry of Defense in Brunei ordered 12 Black Hawks from Mielec with an option to order another ten. Over the next two years, PZL Mielec is planning to build over 30 Black Hawks. The company also produces components for the Black Hawk which are exported to the United States, including cockpits, tail cones and pylons.

PZL Mielec is a founding company and a key member of the Aviation Valley cluster of almost 90 aviation companies which account for 80 percent of Poland’s aerospace sector. PZL Mielec is working with 50 local suppliers to ensure smooth production. The company is also developing cooperation with institutions of higher education. So far, it has signed cooperation agreements with the universities of technology in Rzeszów and Warsaw.

The Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation is part of the United Technologies Corporation, which has a total of almost 9,000 employees in Poland.
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