PZL Mielec, a Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. company in Poland, has begun final assembly of the first S-70i Black Hawk helicopter. The production marks the beginning of a new helicopter in the Sikorsky product line, an international variant of the Black Hawk.
Final assembly officially began on Aug. 17. The first S-70i helicopter is expected to be completed in 2010.
Meanwhile, PZL Mielec continues to ramp up production of Black Hawk helicopter cabins. Four cabins have been completed to date. Three have been incorporated into the UH-60M helicopter assembly line at Sikorsky’s main manufacturing facility in the U.S. The fourth cabin has been joined with other dynamic components as PZL prepares to build the first S-70i.
"The start-up of the production line in Poland is a defining moment for the S-70i helicopter program,” said Bob Kokorda, Sikorsky Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Synergy. “This platform will accommodate customer demand with an affordable, capable, and adaptable aircraft that remains true to the Black Hawk helicopter’s legendary combat-proven heritage. Now, this proven, dependable aircraft will extend its capabilities to customers around the world, bringing robust performance and the latest in rotorcraft technology.”
Kokorda reaffirmed the role of PZL Mielec in Sikorsky’s expansion plans in Central and Eastern Europe during a briefing held at the recent XVII International Defense Industry Exhibition.
To increase its presence in the international marketplace, Sikorsky has designated PZL Mielec as a final assembly center for the S-70i Black Hawk helicopter. Production of highly advanced and combat-proven Black Hawk helicopters and cabins in PZL Mielec is expected to provide opportunities to numerous private and publicly held Polish aviation entities. Currently PZL Mielec cooperates with 23 suppliers and subcontractors in Poland. That figure is expected to increase to about 100 in the foreseeable future, as the work progresses.
The S-70i will be produced through a global supply chain and is planned to be delivered directly from Poland to international customers.
A key competitive feature of the Polish-made S-70i Black Hawk helicopter is that it will provide multimission, 10-ton utility lift capability at a price comparable to helicopters in the 6-to-8-ton class. It is designed with a modular platform that can be configured to meet specific customer requirements. Its standard baseline configuration includes the latest technology with fully developed advanced features, such as a fully integrated digital glass cockpit that is instrument flight rules-capable. Other features include a dual digital automatic flight control system (AFCS) and coupled flight director; an active vibration control system to smooth the overall ride of the aircraft and improve the life cycle of air vehicle and dynamic system components; and a dual GPS/INS (global positioning system/inertial navigation system) with digital map to provide accurate and redundant navigation for the most demanding of tactical environments.
Sikorsky has invested millions of dollars in fixed assets, environmental remediation, human resources training, and transfer of technical expertise for its Polish operations. In addition, the company has initiated a broad social package for PZL Mielec employees,” said Janusz Zakrecki, CEO of PZL Mielec.
Since the acquisition, employment at PZL Mielec has increased by 22%—from an initial 1471 to 1800 full-time personnel. A groundbreaking is being scheduled for a new European Union-funded vocational training facility that will educate more than 200 students per year for PZL Mielec.