Research for industry in the Institute of Aviation

The Institute of Aviation is one of the oldest research institutions in Europe. Its history dates back to the beginnings of Polish independence, but the official date for the Institute’s commencement of activities of is 1 August 1926.

The Institute of Aviation in the initial phase of its operation was known as the Aviation Technical Research Institute. This name lasted until the beginning of the Second World War.

The profile of operations in the years 1926-1939 focused primarily on the testing and certification of aircraft. All pre-war Polish military aircraft were tested and certified at the Institute. In a short time it became a respected research centre in the country and the forge for valuable inventive work, which marked out new horizons in the aviation industry. The development of the Institute was halted by the events 1939.

During the Second World War, the Institute interrupted its activities, but the staff remained in close connection with aviation, taking jobs in reputed foreign institutions, especially in England. Elements of underground activity, outside the armed struggle, was technical aviation intelligence and secret teaching, but also training activities, which was led by a team codenamed “Dural”. The activity of “Dural” also included the development of a strategy to reactivate the Institute after the war.

All pre-war Polish military aircraft were tested and certified at the Institute.

And so it happened. The post-war beginnings of the Institute of Aviation date back to 1945, when the Technical Institute of Aviation (ITL) was appointed. The ITL was temporarily sited at the Warsaw Polytechnic, but in 1947 was moved to the building and remaining halls at Warsaw’s Okęcie airport. In the initial phase of post-war activities the Institute developed jet and pulse engines, as well as work beginning on a breakthrough in the Polish aviation industry, the SP-GIL helicopter.

In 1948, the Institute changed its name to the Main Institute of Aviation, and in 1952 it was given the name of the Institute of Aviation, which it uses to this day. The post-war period was a time at which the research and construction staff dealt mainly with the design and manufacture of license PO-2 bi-planes and the very modern for the time fighter aircraft MIG-15. The expansion of the aviation industry in 1951-53 set the Institute tasks associated with the running the licence production of the Soviet combat aircraft of type Lim-1 and Lim-2 and their engines.

At the same time the Institute participated in the development of Polish gliders and ran its own construction works, the result of which was at that time the first Polish experimental helicopter BŻ-1 GIL developed under the direction of  the engineer B. Żurakowski. This team later designed the BŻ-4 Żuk helicopter and the experimental Bumblebee helicopter driven by two jet motors at the ends of the rotor blades.

In mid-1952 the airframe design office under the direction of engineer T. Soltyk was established at the Institute.

At the same time the Institute participated in the development of Polish gliders and ran its own construction works

In the office, a sanitary version of the CSS-13 aircraft was designed, and in 1953, the design of a new variant of the Junak-2, renumbered as Junak-3 was drawn up. Another of the office’s projects was the jet trainer aircraft TS-8 Bies – three prototypes were made in the workshops of the Institute in 1953-1955.

In 1954, the Institute established a design office headed by Prof. Dr. F. Misztal, in which the passenger plane FM-11 was developed, followed by its enlarged version then FM-12, later known as the MD-12.

At the piston engine construction office, led by Doc. Eng. W. Narkiewicz, the WN-3 7-cylinder star, air cooled, was designed, with a power output of 315 HP, intended for the Bies aircraft. The engine was mass-produced. In 1956, the project was established for the first Polish jet training aircraft, the TS-11 Iskra and its engine.

Further years saw the specialization in the design and research of flying objects: rockets and flying targets. The meteorological rocket Meteor 1 met with acclaim.

In subsequent years the Institute primarily worked on the program to create combat-trainer aircraft for the military. The I-22 Iryda aircraft received the required certificates confirming the aircraft’s compliance with applicable regulations and customer requirements.

It is here, at the Institute of Aviation, where the first Polish jet training aircraft, the TS-11 Iskra and the military jet trainer airacrt, the I-22 Iryda were developed.

A new challenge for the Institute’s engineers was the project of building a new generation four-seater, composite passenger aircraft, the I-23 Manager. The work was completed successfully, and the plane received very good marks from experts. Among the projects of the 1990-2000 period, we should also highlight the creation of the two-seater training aircraft I-25 As, the two-seater patrol and training helicopter IS-2, and the rescue patrol hovercraft PRP-560 Ranger.

Currently, the Institute of Aviation is an institution specializing in the provision of research of the highest world quality, providing solutions to the problems facing modern aviation. It closely cooperates with the global giants of the aviation industry: General Electric, Boeing, Airbus, and Pratt & Whitney.

Research is being done for other sectors of the economy, including the automotive, construction, power generation, and chemical industries, space technology, sports, shipbuilding and the defence industry.

The Institute of Aviation closely cooperates with the global giants of the aviation industry: General Electric, Boeing, Airbus, and Pratt & Whitney.

The position of the Institute in the world of science and industry stems from the knowledge and commitment of its employees. Its strength is the experienced, highly qualified staff and extensive research facilities in the form of modern laboratories with all the international accreditations.

The increasing complexity of the economic environment, both resulting from the processes of globalization in the world economy and development in Poland, has become a strategic challenge for the Institute of Aviation. Experiments have proved once again that the basis for the international competitiveness of research institutes is a well-educated academic staff, modern research infrastructure and expertise cooperation.

The development of information technology, knowledge-based management and increase in the number of international projects enables the creation and conduct of research in the field of global competencies and exploitation of results for the needs of individual countries and organizations.

The Institute of Aviation collaborates with many universities, research institutions and industrial laboratories in Poland and abroad. Research partners are the scientific centres of European Union countries. Mutual relationships are based on codified rules involving covering participation in the work of the organization of European Research Establishment of Aeronautics, in which the Institute has been participating since 2008.

Currently employing more than 1,300 employees, including many prominent scientists, engineers and researchers, the Institute of Aviation conducts research and development in six substantive divisions: the New Technology Centre, the Engineering Design Centre, the Composite Technology Centre, the Research Centre for Materials and Structures, the Centre of Space Technology, and the Centre for Transport and Energy Conversion.

The scope of the research Centre for Space Technology involves the study of piston engines and turboshaft engines, testing combustion chambers, measurement of aircraft noise, the study of flows, balancing, trials of glass resistance to puncture, safety research in the field of General Aviation, design and testing of rocket engines, the preparations of hydrogen peroxide, design and construction work, testing the resistance strength and exposure to mechanical and environmental risks, functional testing of devices, acquisition and processing of aerial images, spectral analyses, radio communications, thermovision, and avionics.

The Composite Technology Centre provides technological solutions and carries out testing of materials in the field of composite materials for the aerospace industry. The main scope of work includes the study of composites, technology fabrication for composites from carbon prepregs, monitoring the propagation of delamination of composite materials by means of numerical and experimental methods, defect detection and analyses the development of defects in composite materials using non-destructive methods.

The Institute of Aviation conducts research and development in six substantive divisions: the New Technology Centre, the Engineering Design Centre, the Composite Technology Centre, the Research Centre for Materials and Structures, the Centre of Space Technology, and the Centre for Transport and Energy Conversion.

The Research Centre for Materials and Structures includes comprehensive static and fatigue strength testing, dynamic strength testing, testing of strain gauges, measurement and analysis of vibration, noise measurements, design and estimate services, mechanical testing of metallic materials, non-destructive testing, testing material properties, and the making of samples.

The Centre for Transport and Energy Conversion leads work on the conversion technology and energy accumulation in areas related to means of transport, with particular emphasis on the aviation industry. The range of activities includes work on technologies for transport by road, sea, rail and air, and technologies aimed at replacing energy from traditional sources with renewable energy. It conducts substantive cooperation with the participation of domestic and foreign companies.

The New Technology Centre’s activities include scientific and research work in the field of applied aerodynamics, tunnel aerodynamic research, non-aeronautical research, the construction of prototypes and demonstrators, as well as static, dynamic and functional research.

The Engineering Design Centre was established in April 2000 under an agreement between General Electric and the Institute of Aviation. Teams of engineers from both companies are working on projects relating to themes of GE Aviation (Aircraft Engines and Aviation Systems), GE Power, GE Additive, GE Oil&Gas, GE Transportation, GE Renewable Energy, and GE Digital.

Today, the Institute of Aviation staff can look to the future with optimism. There is no way to list all the achievements of the Institute of Aviation in its more than 90-year history. Let’s become acquainted with the most important of them from the last few years.

The ILR-33 “Amber” rocket developed at the Institute of Aviation is the world’s first rocket that uses more than 98% hydrogen peroxide as an oxidizer.

Undoubtedly among them is the development of the ILR-33 “Bursztyn” missile, which is one of the key projects being realised the in Space Technology Centre. Their goal is to develop carrier and probe rocket technology in Poland. It is important for setting realistic possibilities for carrying small useful masses (i.e. payload) to ceilings up to 100 km. The platform developed enables research to be conducted in microgravity conditions during suborbital flights.

The ILR-33 “Bursztyn” rocket is a construction in which the first parallel stage is two auxiliary motors on solid propellant. The main stage is driven by an innovative hybrid engine that uses highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide (HTP 98%+) as an oxidizer and polyethylene as the fuel. The rocket is equipped with an on-board computer responsible for the correct execution of the mission, flight data recording and transfer of them to the ground station. The ILR-33 “Bursztyn” is the world’s first rocket to use hydrogen peroxide with a concentration of greater than 98% as the oxidant. The technical achievements have been recognized by the European Space Agency, so that the Institute of Aviation received the opportunity to participate in international projects in the field of missile technology.

Engineers from the Institute of Aviation designed the outer part of the wing trailing edge for the currently produced Airbus A350XWB-1000

A global achievement was the design of a trailing edge for the wing for the Airbus A350XWB-1000 aeroplane. Engineers from the Institute of Aviation designed the outer part of the wing trailing edge for the currently produced Airbus A350XWB-1000. The project involved more than 250 engineers – designers and researchers. The airframe is more than 70% built of high-tech materials (53% of composite materials, titanium and others are modern aluminium alloys). The Airbus A350XWB-1000 held its successful first flight in November 2016. The aircraft is a direct competitor to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Boeing 777. Through this project, the Institute of Aviation has proven that it has the scientific and engineering staff with the highest worldwide qualifications, allowing it to take any design challenges in the aviation sector. Work on the wing of the Airbus A350XWB-1000 was realized as a result of the success in the design of this solution for the previous version, the A350XWB-900. More than 60 engineers from the Institute of Aviation participated in the development of highly complex method of calculation of critical loads over the choice and dimensioning of the structure. Until recently, this method of calculating was almost impossible. Engineers from the Institute of Aviation are the creators of an innovative method of calculation in this regard. In the A350XWB-1000 version, Polish engineers have designed 20 large composite elements, 22 large metal parts, and 600 other parts.

Engineers from the Institute of Aviation designed and implementated a turbine for the manufacturing of one of the world’s largest aircraft engines, the GEnx.

Another achievement of Institute of Aviation is the design and implementation of a turbine for the manufacturing of one of the world’s largest aircraft engines, the GEnx. The GEnx turbofan (GE Next Generation) is the bestselling high thrust engine in the history of General Electric. Current orders for GEnx engines amount to 1,300 pieces. The GEnx is used in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, ir is also the exclusive engine for the four=engined Boeing 747-8. The solutions applied by Polish scientists have significantly increased the efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions (to 15%) compared to the CF6 engines – which drive the Boeing 767. The GEnx engine has become a huge technological leap in the area of ​​turbofan drives. Using the latest materials and design processes, weight was reduced, while improving performance and fuel efficiency. The most innovative technical solutions used in the GEnx engine include: a dual annular combustion chamber with pre-mixers (which dramatically reduce NOx emissions) and enlarged, aerodynamically efficient fan blades (noise reduction to an unprecedented value among commercial GE engines). The designed low-pressure turbine in this engine is lighter and more efficient than its predecessor. The project uses a new generation of 3D aerodynamics. Titanium-aluminium vanes were introduced, leading to a reduction of engine weight of 200 kg and greatly contributed to the reduction in fuel consumption (almost 15%). Thanks to the success of this project, the Institute of Aviation is participating in an international consortium (Poland-Italy-Czech Republic-USA), which designs and rolls out a new generation of engines.

Method for assessing the safety of the aircraft during flutter tests in flight is a completely new and innovative approach in the world of studying the structural dynamics of aircraft

The Institute has also developed a computerized method for assessing the safety of the aircraft during flutter tests in flight during normal operation of the aircraft. The essence of the study is to enable real-time monitoring of the safety level of the flutter vibrations of aircraft in flight. The method analyses the vibrations of the structure based on signals indicated by the installed sensors. Calculations are performed almost in real time (time evaluation of the dynamic state of the aircraft is less than 1 second). On the basis of the measurement data the damping values are determined. Their analysis is essential in assessing the safety from flutter. The method has been implemented by the Institute of Aviation and is subject to European, United States, and Canadian patents. This technology is a completely new and innovative approach in the world of studying the structural dynamics of aircraft, reduces cost and time of testing, at the same time giving accurate results corresponding to simulation of the behaviour of aircraft components. The solution is unique and can be used in the manufacture of all types of aircraft.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is interested in the engineering technology developed at the Institute of Aviation to obtain hydrogen peroxide of a concentration exceeding 98%. The patent has been made available to a Polish company, which produces H2O2 on an industrial scale.

An important achievement of the Institute of Aviation is a method for producing HTP grade hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which is a substitute for the previously used – very dangerous – hydrazine. The essence of the patented and implemented method is the selection of catalysts, which produce a concentration of hydrogen peroxide at a minimum of 98 percent. The patent has been made available to a Polish company, which produces H2O2 on an industrial scale. Growing formal difficulties relating to the use of hydrazine and the relatively high costs of security for ground staff, mean that the satellite drive sector is actively seeking suitable alternatives to this substance. It is estimated that HTP grade hydrogen peroxide at a concentration of 98% meets the technical specifications to effectively replace the existing solutions. The engineering technology developed at the Institute of Aviation to obtain hydrogen peroxide of a concentration exceeding 98%, and a corresponding high purity, mean that the results of the study are keenly watched in world scientific research centres, especially those related to the European Space Agency (ESA). The technology of obtaining hydrogen peroxide, in particular the HTP class used for drive solutions and system for vacuum distillation has been submitted to the European Patent Office.

A concept to lock uncontrolled release of hydrocarbons in pipelines enabled the fixing of the famous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was developed at the Institute of Aviation.

Another important achievement of the Institute of Aviation is to develop an innovative and unique concept to lock uncontrolled release of hydrocarbons in pipelines localized in areas inaccessible to the direct intervention of rescue teams. The mechanism developed enabled the fixing of the famous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Securing the tube upstream is similar to the labyrinth seal used in the construction of the turbines used in the power engineering industry. One use of such blocking is to stop the leak formed below the end of the tube, which is important in submarine systems. An important advantage of the invention, patented in the United States, is the possibility to use it in the case of different diameters and lengths of damaged sections of pipe, particularly pipes and production wells on the sea floor. The security system developed plays an essential role in preventing and removing the effects of pipeline failures, in the event of major environmental disasters in the world.

A unique turbojet engine, equipped with a detonation combustion chamber developed at the Institute of Aviation enables significantly to increase the motor efficiency as well as to reduce toxic exhaust emissions and greenhouse gases.

A significant achievement of the researchers of the Institute of Aviation, under the guidance of Prof. Dr. hab. Eng. Piotr Wolański, is to develop a unique turbojet engine, equipped with a detonation combustion chamber. The detonation combustion chamber applied to the engine was able to significantly increase the motor efficiency (by 10%), reduce toxic exhaust emissions and greenhouse gases (e.g. CO2), simplify the structure, reduce the weight, and decrease manufacturing costs. The use of the detonation combustion in the engine will also allow the use of methane or hydrogen as a motor fuel, which would allow for a further significant reduction of CO2 emissions in the case of the use of methane or total elimination of the emission of this greenhouse gas using hydrogen. The results of the project are of interest in leading motor companies in Poland and around the world. The main advantage of this solution is the possibility to reduce the size of new jet engines, and therefore the simultaneous reduction in their weight and production costs. The research on detonation combustion technologies conducted at the Institute of Aviation is financed by the United States Air Force (grant US Force). The project has opened a new area of ​​research and applications in the Institute. Their results are made available to the scientific and industrial centres of the Polish aviation sector.

The Institute of Aviation opened one of the most modern in the Gas Turbine Center. The Center has the largest vacuum chamber in the world for tests of aircraft engines and industrial turbines.

In 2016, the Institute of Aviation opened one of the most modern in the world Gas Turbine Centres (CTG). Gas turbines are becoming more sophisticated and advanced technologically, and are taking over the technology of aircraft turbine engines. On the one hand it is an extension, while on the other, it is, for example a new opening on the energy market. The Centre has the largest vacuum chamber in the world. Designed to conduct turbine largest blade breaking tests, it measures 12 metres long, 5.5 metres wide, and its total weight is 177 tonnes. The parameters of the vacuum chamber make the infrastructure of the Gas Turbine Centre unique internationally. With this investment, the Institute of Aviation appears on the world map as a valued competence centre in the field of aviation, energy and gas turbines. The Gas Turbine Centre is an example of an organization directly oriented on implementation. The possibility of researching gas turbines, cutting-edge instrumentation and direct access to experienced and qualified staff (automation engineers, programmers, designers, technicians) mean that the resulting institution is the only place on the technological map of the world with such a condensed technical expertise. The Centre has already conducted research for the Steam Turbine Production Plant and Foundry Plant in Elbląg and the Generator Factory  in Wrocław.

The Institute of Aviation has proposed, promoted and implemented the issue of professional use of the light aircraft transport system (Small Air Transport – SAT) as a strategic objective of the European Union

The Institute of Aviation has proposed, promoted and implemented the issue of professional use of the light aircraft transport system (Small Air Transport – SAT) as a strategic objective of the European Union. SAT themes found expression in the Clean Sky 2 programme, which aims to create a fully-fledged small air transport (passenger and freight), which allows the environmentally friendly way to get from any point in Europe for to another in 4 hours. This resulted in the implementation of several European projects, several of which are coordinated by the Institute of Aviation. The implementation of these projects constitutes a development of the infrastructure base for the construction of a Small Aircraft Transport System with the inclusion of domestic entrepreneurs, especially SMEs. The aim of the project is to improve the safety and economics of airplanes flying 9- and 19- sites, remote reduce pilot labour and increase the operational capacity of small airports. The Institute of Aviation has developed guidelines for designers of aircraft specially adapted to the requirements of the SAT. Within the framework of SAT, a road map has been developed “from door to door within 4 hours”. A flight demonstrator for a small four-seat airplane with turboprop was built. A dozen countries participated in the execution team. The project is part of the Horizon 2020 program of research and technological development and the prospect of EU 2050. Its implementation contributes to improving sustainable economic growth, alleviating the problem of congestion on Europe’s roads and significantly affecting the reduction of environmental pollution.

The history of the Institute is 91 years of research, creating new visions, heated discussions, from which emerges the history of Polish aviation. Its essence is that the Institute of Aviation, during all that time, fulfilled its tasks and met the expectations set for the research and development in the 21st century, deservedly taking the leading position in the domestic and global market of engineering challenges.