“If it works well in Poland, we could have them repairing civil engines in the future,” Faribault says.
WZL 1 was established in 1945 to perform overhaul work for the Polish air force. Today the company works out of an annex at Lodz Airport, performing maintenance and overhaul work on Polish military helicopters including the Mi-2, the Mi-8/17 Hip, Mi-14 Haze and the Mi-35 Hind as well as the U.S.-built Kaman SH-2G SeaSprite, which is in service in small numbers with the Polish navy. It is one of three aircraft overhaul and manufacturing facilities reporting to the Polish defense ministry, in addition to WZL 2 and WZL 3.
“In the last seven years we have done around 130 overhauls and modernizations of helicopters, the most important of which was to prepare for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan,” says WZL 1 President Jan Pietowski. “We modernized the aircraft using our own solutions. And we achieved positive financial results.”
Under 100% state ownership, WZL 1 posted sales of $56 million in 2012, of which $6 million was profit.
Pietowski says Poland is also interested in developing unmanned helicopters, notably the Polish ILX-27 technology demonstrator built with the Air Force Institute of Technology and Military Aviation Works No. 1, which debuted at the 2012 Berlin Air Show.
“We also want to develop services in civil aviation, and if we enter into this Eurocopter [arrangement], we are hoping it will involve other helicopters, not only military but civil,” Pietowski said.