The aerospace industry has long been an important sector of the Polish economy dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. Major production plants such as PZL Swidnik, PZL Warszawa, PZL Mielec, and PZL Rzeszow were established before World War II and continued to expansion during the Cold War period due to close cooperation with the Soviet aerospace industry. The end of the Cold War brought about a rapid decline in the industry as orders from former Eastern bloc countries dried up. Skilled aerospace employees were laid off by the thousands. The situation began to improve in the late 90’s. Significant growth of production in this sector resulted from cooperation with some of the world’s largest aerospace companies. The sector grew rapidly from 2003 to 2008. In 2003 turnover of the aviation sector reached 710 million PLN. Five years later, in 2008, total turnover was 2.8 billion PLN (890 million USD). In 2009 this figure was similar.
Currently, there are approximately 70 aviation companies in Poland employing over 22,000 people (in 2003 the number of employees was 2.5 times less). 90% of Poland’s aerospace production is exported.
Poland is known for production and servicing of:
• Light sport, passenger, agricultural and training aircrafts;
• Parts and accessories.
Much of the country’s production activity is concentrated in the southeastern part of Poland. Many small and medium sized companies were established there in the vicinity of the existing indigenous producers of aerospace equipment such as PZL Swidnik, PZL Mielec (currently owned by Sikorsky), and PZL Rzeszow (currently owned by Pratt & Whitney).
U.S. manufacturers are well represented in Poland and include such firms as Sikorsky, Pratt & Whitney, Goodrich, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and others.
By Joanna Chomicka