More than a decade-and-a-half after PZL-Swidnik introduced it to the Western world in 1985, the Polish helicopter manufacturer’s Ecureuil-like SW-4 turbine single received Polish certification on November 14. The program to develop the plucky little “copter that could” survived the collapse of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union, with all the political and economic uncertainty that entailed, which largely accounts for the SW-4’s multi-generational delays. A complete redesign of the helicopter in 1989 and 1990 also contributed to the delay. Lack of funding made it a hangar queen until first flight in 1996.
A result is a compact light helicopter available in two variants–an economy version powered by a 450-shp Rolls-Royce 250C20R and with a normal takeoff weight of 3,527 lb; and a high-performance package with a 615-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PW200/9 and an mtow of 3,968 lb. The transmission derates the outputs of both engine types to 450 shp for takeoff and 380 shp for max continuous thrust. Base price for both will be north or south of $700,000, depending on the package desired.
The first production batch of SW-4s is earmarked for the Polish air force, which is committed to take a total of 47 SW-4s by 2010 to be used for pilot training at that nation’s air force academy in Deblin.
The petite design, which impressed onlookers with a sprightly aerial demonstration at the 1999 Paris Air Show, seats four and a pilot. The cabin is equipped with a forward-folding conventional door, as well as a van-type sliding door
on each side, a feature intended to attract the low-end aeromedical transport market.