First Polish Pilot Achieves BLACK HAWK Helicopter Rating


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First Polish Pilot Achieves BLACK HAWK Helicopter Rating

By Steve Hall

April 7, 2011 - Flight test operations at Sikorsky Aircraft’s company in Poland, PZL Mielec, are fully operational and the company is preparing to deliver the first S-70i BLACK HAWK helicopters, Sikorsky Aircraft announced.  

Test Pilot Leszek Pawula, a well known Polish test pilot, was hired in late 2010 to support flight testing of the S-70i BLACK HAWK helicopter line. Among the professional qualifications Pawula holds are a Helicopter Class 1 Test Pilot Rating (Experimental Test Pilot). 

Pawula also holds an airline transport pilot license (ATP) with 4,300 hours in helicopters, and a commercial pilot license with 800 hours in fixed wing aircraft, to date. Pawula is one of only three designated test pilot instructors and examiners appointed by the Polish Civil Aviation Authority.

“Leszek Pawula brings a great depth of experience to his role on the S-70i BLACK HAWK helicopter team. He is one of the most experienced test pilots in Poland, with more than 5,000 flight hours logged, and is rated in a multitude of fixed wing and rotary aircraft,” said Mike Skaggs, Sikorsky S-70i Helicopter Program Pilot currently based at PZL Mielec. “We are extremely proud to say that Leszek is the first Polish pilot to be rated in the BLACK HAWK helicopter.” 

In preparation for flight testing capabilities to be done at PZL Mielec, Sikorsky refurbished an existing hangar and paint shop, and added a rescue and fire station staffed by five fulltime firefighters trained in standard firefighting techniques, aircraft crash rescue and BLACK HAWK helicopter emergency egress procedures. 

“The overall performance of the S-70i BLACK HAWK helicopter final assembly and test flight operations at PZL Mielec has exceeded Sikorsky’s expectations,” said Robert Mastronardi, S-70i senior program manager, Sikorsky Military Systems.  

“The leadership team and work force has seamlessly transitioned to production of the BLACK HAWK helicopter and are now ramping up to full production quantities. The attention to detail, commitment to excellence and pride in the end product is evidenced in the aircraft that are being delivered to Test Flight Operations.”


The S-70i BLACK HAWK helicopter program hangar at PZL Mielec can house two BLACK HAWK helicopters with blades installed, or three without blades. Plans call for the hangar space to be increased later this year to meet to the demand for S-70i BLACK HAWK helicopters. PZL Mielec plans to hire and train one or two additional Polish pilots this year to support flight operations that will commence in 2012. 

“The work force at PZL Mielec has continued to pay meticulous attention to detail on the S-70i BLACK HAWK helicopter program,” said Janusz Zakrecki, CEO of PZL Mielec. “In a relatively short span of time, the team has taken ownership of its mission: to produce, flight test and ultimately deliver the international variant of the world’s most battle-proven helicopter, the BLACK HAWK, for the world.” 

The S-70i helicopter is the newest BLACK HAWK variant, being produced for the international market. PZL Mielec, which recently marked its fourth anniversary as a Sikorsky company, is the final assembly center and production test flight hub for the program. 

The S-70i BLACK HAWK helicopter incorporates the latest technology with advanced features such as a fully integrated digital cockpit with a dual digital automatic flight control system and coupled flight director. It also features an active vibration control system that will smooth the overall ride of the aircraft.  

The dual GPS/INS system with digital map provides accurate and redundant navigation for the most demanding of tactical environments. Customers around the world will benefit from the aircraft’s modern, robust aircraft configuration and ability to leverage existing interoperability with Sikorsky’s worldwide fleet of BLACK HAWK helicopters. 

The options that will be developed for the S-70i will enable customers to perform missions such as humanitarian relief, search and rescue, medical evacuation, command and control, and armed patrol.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., USA, is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., USA, provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.

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