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Opening of the AW149 Production Line at PZL-Świdnik

On June 4, 2024, a ceremony was held at the WSK PZL-Świdnik headquarters to inaugurate the production line for AW149 multi-role helicopters. The helicopters will be manufactured at the Świdnik plant as part of the supply program for the Polish Armed Forces.

As emphasized by Deputy Minister of National Defense Paweł Bejda, who was present at the ceremony: The opening of the new AW149 assembly line at PZL Świdnik is a flywheel for the Polish economy. The contract worth PLN 8.25 billion with the Ministry of National Defense is significant support, allowing for a gradual increase in employment, which today amounts to 3,500 employees. This plant is the pride of Poland and the region.

The new line, operating on a single-shift schedule, is expected to enable the production of 10 AW149 helicopters per year. This capacity will allow for fulfilling deliveries to meet the needs of the Polish Armed Forces by the end of 2029 and, if necessary, will be able to handle additional orders.

As emphasized by Jacek Libucha, President of PZL-Świdnik: The recent period has been a time of multimillion-dollar investments, encompassing infrastructure, equipment, and facilities, particularly the building that now houses the complete production line for AW149 helicopters. With the production of the AW149, a new era begins for the Świdnik plant – it was clear to me from the very beginning, when I was appointed as President of PZL-Świdnik, that we needed a new line to produce the most advanced helicopters to further develop our competencies, which must come with technology transfer. What we have achieved also meets the highest needs of the Polish Armed Forces – the AW149 helicopters will provide the Land Forces with the best possible combat support, which is what this platform was created for.

The AW149, which has already been test-flown, is ready to be delivered to the user

During the visit to the plant, the gathered guests had the opportunity to learn about the new investments at PZL Świdnik. These include the final assembly line (FAL) for the AW149 and the station for testing, assembly of special equipment, and test flights, known as the Flight Line.

The final assembly process is divided into three stages, during which the helicopter is equipped with electrical installations, control systems, and fuel and hydraulic systems. Next, the cockpit is completed, and the engines, main gearbox, landing gear, and power units are installed. In the final stage of assembly, the tail boom with the rotor, windows, stabilizers, and rotor hub are attached.

The first AW149 being assembled on the final assembly line at PZL-Świdnik

The station where the assembly of the largest components of the AW149 will take place: the engine, main gearbox, landing gear, and the connection of the fuselage with the tail boom. The final step of this stage will be the installation of the instrument panels and the ATP test of the helicopter.

The final stage of helicopter production takes place on the Flight Line (FL), where the helicopters undergo final inspection, are equipped with cryptographic systems, and are test-flown.

The AW149 program for the Polish Armed Forces is based on localizing the production of these helicopters in Poland, at PZL-Świdnik. This is a strategic decision by the Ministry of Defense aimed at securing both national security and key industrial benefits. Through local production, Poland gains not only the most advanced helicopters but also a domestic logistical base and technical support located close to the military. The contract, worth PLN 8.25 billion gross (USD 2.05 billion), for 32 AW149 helicopters was signed in Świdnik in 2022 and also includes the integration of all helicopter systems and dedicated weaponry, as well as future upgrades and technical support throughout the lifecycle of Poland’s AW149 fleet.

Presentation of the AW149 in flight. This is the fifth helicopter to be delivered to the Polish Armed Forces. This particular unit was still produced at Leonardo’s plant in Vergiate / Photos and video: Jakub Link-Lenczowski, MILMAG

Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, said: PZL-Świdnik is an example of the highest level of excellence within our organisation, obtaining very good results in all areas and has great potential for further development. In line with this, there are growing requirements for our company based in Świdnik to continue to evolve from a manufacturer to a key market player that manages complex contracts and deliveries. The Polish MoD programme of AW149 is a clear example of this today. The localisation of industrial and logistical capabilities for these new helicopters to meet Poland’s needs, leverage the long established and unique capabilities of PZL-Świdnik and its professional skills combined with the outstanding operational capabilities of the AW149s will deliver unparalleled advantages to the country.

PZL-Świdnik, as the only domestic helicopter OEM, has full capabilities from design to production and servicing. However, as part of Leonardo, it also leverages the strategic depth provided by its European facilities—this means, among other things, speed of delivery and flexibility in responding to demanding delivery schedules or potential scenarios related to military threats in today’s geopolitical situation. The first AW149 helicopters were produced in Vergiate (Italy), where PZL-Świdnik employees underwent on-the-job training, integrating into the production cycle of helicopters for the Polish military, in response to an urgent need. The first helicopters were received by the Land Forces just 15 months after the contract was signed.

PZL-Świdnik employs over 3,200 workers, 20% of whom are engineers, and there is a growing number of young, newly hired employees who are graduates of technical universities. Therefore, cooperation with polytechnics and technical military universities is continuously developing. This aims to meet the current and future needs of the country for a strong engineering workforce, considering both industrial development and security. The Świdnik plant employs test pilots with the highest level of capability (Level 1) to meet the current and future needs of the Polish Army and other Polish programmes. These pilots performed a dynamic demonstration of the AW149 during the ceremonial opening of the AW149 production line.


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