Chasing the Polish requirement for up to 70 new multirole helicopters to replace aging Mil Mi-8/17s, Eurocopter announced that it will create an assembly line for the EC725 Caracel in that country. Turbomeca simultaneously announced that it will produce the helicopter’s Makila 2 turboshaft engines in Poland. The two companies have signed cooperation agreements with Wojskowe Zaklady Lotnicze No 1 (WZL-1), the Lodz-based joint stock company that overhauls Mil helicopters and their engines.
Eurocopter and Turbomeca said the deal will create “a comprehensive in-country industrial work package that also includes training for locally hired workers, along with a comprehensive MRO capability that will last...and potentially be open to future export contracts.”
WZL-1 president Jan Pietowski said that his company’s future depends on securing production of the new helicopter for Poland.
Eurocopter has supplied more than 50 helicopters to Poland, including 23 EC135s for the country’s emergency medical services network. Eurocopter parent company EADS acquired the country’s oldest aviation company, PZL Warsawa-Okecie, in 2001. Turbomeca parent company Safran also has a Polish presence via its subsidiary Hispano-Suiza, which has been producing engine parts and assembling power transmissions at Sedziszow.
The EC725 faces competition in Poland from the Sikorsky S-70i, which is already produced in-country by PZL-Mielec, acquired by Sikorsky in 2007. Also in contention is the AW149, offered by AgustaWestland, which previously acquired PZL-Swidnik, manufacturer of the Polish-designed SW-4 and W-3A.