PZL PZL-110 Koliber. 1978. Part 1

Kraków 2012-04-26

PZL Okęcie PZL-110 Koliber, PZL Koliber 150/150A/160A.

251b Section 18.04.1978 year. Poland.

PZL-110 Koliber business plane.

PZL-110 Koliber SP-FRC. 2008 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
PZL-110 Koliber SP-FRC. 2008 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

PZL-110 Koliber SP-WUL. 2009 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
PZL-110 Koliber SP-WUL. 2009 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

PZL-110 Koliber. 2018 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
PZL-110 Koliber. 2018 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Rallye aircraft family.

Before we discuss the PZL-110 Koliber aircraft, we must move to France, to the town of Tarbes, at the foot of the Pyrenees. Here was located the Morane-Saulnier aircraft factory, transformed into SEMMS, then GEMMS and finally (1966) SOCATA. The history of the construction we are interested in began in 1958. It was then that the SFATAT organization announced a competition for a small, light and cheap aircraft for safe club flying. Within the company, a group of three pilot-engineers joined the task; Rostaing (aerodynamics), Richoux (construction), Chanson (calculations). The result of their work was the MS880 aircraft. The name Rallye (rally) did not appear until 1966. The design of the aircraft won the competition. The first flight of the aircraft marked MS880 took place on June 30, 1959. The aircraft was a two-seat side-by-side layout. The landing gear was still with the tail wheel, but the wing already had a characteristic strong lift. Continental C-90 engine, 67 kW.

Serial production started in 1961. Since the aircraft was to be built in large numbers, it was decided to automate production extensively. In the construction itself, spot welding and riveting with rivets closed on one side were commonly used. Thanks to the large number of aircraft built, it became possible to significantly reduce the unit price of the aircraft. In addition, the company never stopped modifying, improving and creating new varieties. An entire family tree of the Rallye family was created, consisting of two main branches; lighter and heavier versions. Although they differed little in size, these heavier versions had a stronger structure (more frames and ribs) and more powerful engines. By October 1979, over 3,200 Rallye aircraft of all versions and variations had been built, of which over 2,000 were exported. Most of the Rallye 100 aircraft were produced, about 1,100. The number 100 was the engine power.

The Rallye aircraft is built according to the French AIR-2052A regulations. The aircraft is a multi-role, 4-seat, single-engine, all-metal, cantilever, low-wing monoplane with fixed landing gear. Purpose of the aircraft; school and training, sports, available. There were also agricultural versions, with a tank for chemicals and armed ones, described as anti-partisan. Under the wings there were two nodes for carrying weapons. Usually two pods with rapid-fire machine guns.

PZL-110 Koliber.

The second half of the 1970s was the time when the Polish market opened up to products from the West, a large part of which began to be produced under license. In 1975, a group of Polish party and government activists went to France to purchase a license for a small training and sports aircraft that would complement the PZL-104 Wilga aircraft. The result of negotiations in 1976 was the purchase of a license for a version marked Rallye 100 ST. It is worth mentioning that it was the time when Edward Gierek and the French president, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, signed an agreement on mutual economic cooperation. Including in aviation. Berliet-Jelcz communication buses and telephone exchanges originated from this period. Therefore, despite creating appearances, taking into account other aircraft constructions (even from across the Great Water), the decisions were political. Nevertheless, in March 1976, comparative tests of several aircraft took place at Okęcie Airport. The French brought the Rallye 100 aircraft, powered by a Rolls-Royce Continental O-200A engine. F-BXMZ registration.

More insiders claim that the license documentation of the Rallye 100 ST aircraft, apart from the new power unit, differed from those machines built in France. First of all, the plane had an enlarged vertical tail, as in heavier versions. The dashboard was already from the latest version. The cabin is made of better materials.

Rallye 100 ST basic data: Span 9.74 m. Length 7.05 m. Height 2.8 m. Curb weight 473 kg. Take-off weight 770 kg. Maximum speed 270 km/h. Top speed 200 km/h. Minimum speed 75 km/h. 150 m inrun to take. 150 m inrun for landing.

We do not know the details of the talks, but it is known that the Polish side negotiated the possibility of installing PZL-Franklin engines in the aircraft. This power unit was also licensed. The engine bore the exact designation PZL-Franklin 4A-235B3 and had a power of 93 kW (125 hp). It used 24 liters of fuel per hour of flight. We were also able to pay part of the license costs with components for aircraft built in France, manufactured in Poland. In addition to the license, three copies of the Rallye 100 ST were purchased, without engines, which were used to prepare the production process.

In June 1976, a group of Polish engineers from Warsaw went to France. It was decided that one plane would be brought to Poland by air. Just before takeoff, the pilot saw that the plane had no radio (on-board radio). During a nervous telephone conversation, attempts were made to persuade the pilot to fly, accusing him of cowardice. The pilot, however, did not bend (and very well). Other willing madmen were sought. Nobody agreed. So sent to France, radio. In addition, the flight route from Poland was not secured. The flight plan went to the relevant services, but some communist did not do his job. As a result, over Czechoslovakia, the Rallye plane was intercepted by two MiG-21 fighters and brought to the ground. The pilot told everything truthfully. He was not very believed, because the plane had a French registration. For several days, the communists of both countries explained the situation to each other. The pilot was also told that one of the MiG-21 pilots had been ordered to prepare and deploy missiles when the Rallye made a sharp descent, believing it was obstructing the fighters. It was close to tragedy. The aircraft was a Rallye 100 ST registration F-ODDF. In Poland, the aircraft received the SP-WGA registration. PZL-110 Koliber SP-WGA (ex. SCOATA Rallye 100 ST) brought by air to Poland in 1976, had a Rolls-Royce Continental D-200A engine, 100 hp. Mc Cauley two-blade fixed propeller.

The PZL-110 Koliber SP-WGA aircraft on November 27, 1976 was officially presented to the members of the Standing Commission for Civil Aviation of Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance), a special body that reported to the Kremlin what was done in the civil aviation sector in the countries subordinate to Moscow.

The next trip of the Polish group to France took place in November 1976. The goal was to collect documentation and bring 3 model aircraft in crates, without engines. It turned out, however, that someone in the ministry at the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR) did not check the prices. The plane without the engine was more expensive than the complete plane. The difference was significant, about 10%. This was due to the fact that an incomplete aircraft is treated as assembled spare parts. So buying a plane in fragments, we will pay more than for a complete one. Today it is well known in Poland, but in the times of the People's Republic of Poland, people bought car parts and assembled them themselves. This car was much cheaper. As a result of nervous telephone conversations with Warsaw, the order was changed and three complete aircraft were purchased. The trouble doesn't end there. Because now the planes had to receive temporary French registrations. (You had to pay for that too). As a result, the aircraft received registrations; F-ODER, F-ODES, F-ODEQ. These planes served as the second, third and fourth model of serial production.

The license included the documentation. Again, someone in the Polish United Workers' Party was not interested in how French documentation was prepared. There were several dimensioned elements of the aircraft in one drawing, and for different versions. As a result, in Poland, the entire documentation had to be made anew, in Polish, removing elements intended for other versions. In addition to the engine, the construction of the aircraft was adapted to the capabilities of the Polish manufacturer and cooperating plants. Some elements had to be redesigned to meet Polish regulations.

In 1977, a name was chosen for the new aircraft, which became the word Hummingbird. The name was part of the series of Polish birds; Gawron, Wilga, Kruk, Mewa, i.e. aircraft produced in PZL-Okęcie.

Implementation of the aircraft into production in the times of the People's Republic of Poland was not an easy task. The economy was ruled by people who had no idea about aviation technology, or even about ordinary technology. It turned out that not all elements of the aircraft could be produced in Poland. They had to be bought abroad for foreign currency (hard currency - convertible to US dollars), and this was not well received by the PZPR committee. So the gentlemen from the Polish United Workers' Party, concentrated in the so-called unions, made lists themselves which components we were to buy and which we would produce in the country. As a result, special bolts have to be purchased in France, but we have to produce special nuts for them in-house. A machine tool was purchased for the production of nuts. It doesn't matter that both of these elements were produced on the same machine. Bolts continued to be purchased abroad. This is just one example. Only thanks to the ingenuity of the Polish worker and engineer, the plane took shape and differed more and more in details from the purchased license.

Poland paid for licenses with finished products. They were sets; ailerons, wing flaps, rudders and horizontal stabilizers with elevators. And here it turned out that the Polish product was qualitatively better than the French products. A team of controllers from France came to PZL-Okęcie only once. They tried to find inaccuracies. Then they were led to a French model plane standing next to it, and there was a tragedy. Deviations two or three times greater. The French never came to Poland again.

On April 18, 1978, the first aircraft assembled in Poland, Rallye 100 ST, registration SP-WGC No. 2855, was flown. On September 4-7, 1978, the aircraft PZL-110 Koliber registration SP-WGC (ex. F-ODES) with an PZL-Franklin 4A-235B3 was demonstrated at the Farnborough Air Show. The second half of the 1970s was a period when the products of the Polish Aviation Industry were often demonstrated at international exhibitions in Farnborough and Paris.

The manufacturer of the aircraft was CNPSL (Light Aircraft Scientific and Production Center) PZL-Warszawa (previously WSK Okęcie). On May 8, 1979, the first completely Polish aircraft, PZL-110 Koliber SP-ZKD, was flown. The first series of aircraft was marked PZL-110 Koliber 125. They were powered by PZL Franklin 4A235 engines. They had a theoretical power of 125 hp, and in reality several horses less. It was the first series of engines and they needed to be refined.

By the end of 1987, a series of 36 copies were built, which are mainly used by flying clubs. One of the first PZL-110 Koliber SP-TKA, SP-TKC, SP-TKD aircraft were delivered to the Aviation Personnel Training Center in Rzeszów. The Hummingbird aircraft forced the flying clubs to take a different approach to the condition of the landing field. Previous PZL CSS-13 (Po-2) and Soviet Yak-12 aircraft had wheels from the 1920s. The Koliber aircraft had a landing gear adapted to the designs of the time, adapted to the well-maintained runways. Like it or not, the flying clubs had to take care of the condition of the runway surface, which was good for all planes.

The PZL-110 Koliber is equipped with slots and slotted Fowler flaps. This did not please the communist colonels who managed the flying clubs. According to their approach to the subject, the Koliber aircraft was not a selective aircraft. He did not eliminate the weakest candidates for pilots who would become fighter pilots in the future. Everyone could learn to fly on the PZL-110 Koliber plane, because it forgave most mistakes. Later practice proved that this reasoning was wrong. Gentlemen forgot that the initial training or transitional aircraft, difficult to fly, perpetuates the pilot's habits, which turned out to be a big problem on a fighter aircraft.

PZL-110 Koliber was the first aircraft in aeroclubs that was operated according to technical condition, not according to service life.

Franklin engine.

The history of Franklin Aircooled Motors Corporation begins in the 19th century. In 1893, Herbert Franklin founded a foundry specializing in the construction of machine bodies. The plant also produced gears, bearing covers and many other components. In 1901, the company developed an air-cooled engine to power the first automobiles. Serial production of the engine started in 1902. As a further consequence, the company began to build serial cars. The crisis of the 30s of the 20th century led the company to collapse. For 30 years, the company has produced about 150,000 cars. The revival of the company took place in 1934, when the production of car engines was resumed. The development of aviation meant that the company began to develop aircraft engines based on car engines. The first serial aircraft engine was produced in 1938. It was a 4-cylinder boxer engine. Already at the end of 1938, there was already a whole family of 4-cylinder engines. They had a power of 29.4-36.8 kW (40-50 hp). In 1939, engines with 36.8-44.2 kW (50-60 hp) appeared, and in 1940, with 62.6-66.2 kW (85-90 hp). The latter engine was used as the drive of the popular Stinson-108 Voyager tourist aircraft and was used in military aircraft. In 1943, the 4-cylinder Franklin engine with the gearbox was officially adopted as the drive for light military aircraft.

Here are the basic data of these engines:

4AC-176-BA2 (4-cylinder) 47.8 kW (65 hp) at 2,300 rpm, fuel 73 octane automotive gasoline.

4AGC-199-H3 (4-cylinder) 75-83 kW (102-113 hp) at 3,500 rpm, with 0.63:1 gearbox, 2,200 rpm propeller.

6ACV-403 (6-cylinder) for Nash-Kelvinator licence-produced helicopters, 180 kW (245 hp).

6AC-298-F3 (6-cylinder) 95.7 kW (130 hp) at 2,550 rpm.

6ACG-298-P3 (6-cylinder) 117.8 kW (160 hp) at 3,200 rpm, geared motor.

8AC (8-cylinder).

12AC (12-cylinder).

All of the listed engines ran on car gasoline with an octane number > 80.

The following years are a constant improvement of the engines. New metal alloys were used. Efficiency was increased while fuel consumption was reduced. 4 and 6 cylinder versions were especially developed. In 1962, a 177 kW 6VS engine was developed. In 1966, another 162 kW 6A-350 C1 engine was built. In 1962, the Franklin company was producing; 10 types of 6-cylinder engines (147.2-177 kW), 1 type of 4-cylinder engine, 1 type of 2-cylinder engine.

Franklin engines were used in helicopters and airplanes; sports, tourist, sanitary, liaison and other. They were used in American, Italian, Brazilian and French aircraft.

PZL Franklin.

To be honest, at the turn of the 60s and 70s, the Polish Aviation Industry did not have a modern piston engine for lightweight aircraft structures. There were two solutions to this situation. Allocate significant amounts of money for own development research of Polish structures, or purchase licenses. Both solutions had advantages and disadvantages. Nevertheless, the first solution could fail and required 4-5 years of work. The second solution gave effect within a few months. Therefore, it was decided to purchase a license.

At that time (early 70s), the following companies dominated the field of small aircraft engines; Lycoming (building aircraft engines since 1927), Continental (building aircraft engines since 1928), Franklin (building aircraft engines since 1938).

After negotiations, the Polish authorities chose the offer of Franklin Aircooled Motors Corporation located in Syracuse, New York. It was only after some time that the Polish society found out that the decision-makers of the Polish United Workers' Party had bought the bankruptcy estate of the Franklin company, which was liquidated in 1975 for financial reasons. The whole thing fit in four containers, which came to Poland by ship and reached PZL-Rzeszów. In addition to the engines (treated carelessly) and documentation, the containers contained even furniture. The rest of Franklin's assets had previously been sold by the trustee to cover creditors' claims.

It is currently difficult to assess whether the purchase of Franklin engines was a successful investment. In PZL-Rzeszów itself, opinions were divided. The authorities of the Polish United Workers' Party trumpeted a great success and demonstrated engines wherever possible. The reality, however, was gray and several months passed before the engines were satisfactory in operation. The fact is, however, that Polish Aviation needed an engine of such power and efficiency.

Poland purchased licenses for the Franklin 4AC-235 and Franklin 6A-350 engine with a power of 162 kW for WSK PZL-Rzeszów. The engines were adapted to Polish production capabilities. The improved engine was designated PZL-Franklin 6A-350 C and was installed in the PZL M-20 Mewa, and the four-cylinder version with 125 hp in the PZL-110 Koliber.

Continued in the next chapter.

Written by Karol Placha Hetman