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PZL SW-4 Puszczyk (Tawny Owl)

Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) [ 2002 ]

The PZL SW-4 serves the modern Polish Air Force in the helicopter trainer role and also appears as the civilian-minded AW009 and optionally-piloted SW-4 Solo forms.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/06/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The PZL SW-4 is a light-weight, single-engine helicopter of Polish origination. It is manufactured under the storied PZL-Swidnik brand label and can be used to accomplish a variety of over-battlefield missions as well fulfill various civilian market / industry rrequirements. A first-flight in prototype form was recorded on October 29th, 1996 and series introduction occurred in 2002. The series remains in active service, flying solely with the modern Polish Air Force. Production has been ongoing since 1996.

This Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) is in the same class as the American MD Helicopters MD500 series, the Bell 206, and the Eurocopter Colibri - all three helicopters detailed elsewhere on this site.

The SW-4 has a relatively basic, conventional design showcasing clean lines and a streamlined appearance. The cockpit seats two side-by-side with a compact, three-person passenger cabin integrated directly aft. The engine sits behind and over the cabin and used to drive a three-bladed composite main rotor and twin-bladed tail rotor unit offset to port side. The drive shaft servicing the latter is housed within the tail stem structure which seats a vertical dorsal and ventral fin as well as horizontal planes used in flight control. The helicopter sits atop a simple twin-skid undercarriage, keeping maintenance requirements low. The cockpit sports redundant flight controls for both pilot positions and features a shared instrument panel. A center console divides the two crew spaces and vision out-of-the-cockpit is exceptional due to the liberal use of window panels across the forward section of the fuselage.

Dimensions of the SW-4 include a running length of 34.7 feet, a main rotor diameter of 29.5 feet, and a height of 10 feet - overall a relatively compact footprint for a helicopter of this class. Empty weight is 2,315lb with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) reaching 4,000lb.

Power is derived from a single Rolls-Royce 250-C20R/2 series turboshaft engine develop 451 horsepower, driving the helicopter to speeds of 160 miles-per-hour. It can reach an altitude in excess of 17,000 feet and a range out to 490 miles. Rate-of-climb is 2,030 feet-per-minute.

Forty total helicopters in the series have been built to date (2022) with some 24 taken into service by the Polish Armed Forces where they serve as helicopter trainers. The civilian market form, appearing in 2016, is designated as "AW009". The SW-4 "Solo" is an optionally-piloted version of the helicopter and a joint development between PZL and helicopter powerhouse AgustaWestland. Work on this form was begun in 2011.©MilitaryFactory.com
Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.MilitaryFactory.com. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at MilitaryFactory AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.


Service Year

Poland national flag graphic

In Active Service.


National flag of Poland Poland
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Special-Mission: MEDical EVACuation (MEDEVAC)
Extraction of wounded combat or civilian elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and available internal volume or external carrying capability.
Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.

Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
Ability to operate over ocean in addition to surviving the special rigors of the maritime environment.
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.

34.7 ft
(10.57 m)
29.5 ft
(9.00 m)
10.0 ft
(3.05 m)
Empty Wgt
2,315 lb
(1,050 kg)
3,968 lb
(1,800 kg)
Wgt Diff
+1,653 lb
(+750 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the PZL SW-4 production variant)
Installed: 1 x Rolls-Royce 250-C20R/2 turboshaft engine developing 451 horsepower driving three-bladed main rotor and two-bladed tail rotor (facing port side).
Max Speed
162 mph
(260 kph | 140 kts)
17,060 ft
(5,200 m | 3 mi)
491 mi
(790 km | 1,463 nm)
2,030 ft/min
(619 m/min)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the PZL SW-4 production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)

Supported Types

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
SW-4 "Puszczyk" - Base Serries Designation.
SW-4 "Solo" - Optionally-piloted variant of 2016; joint-development with AgustaWestland.
AW009 - Civilian-market form.

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Images Gallery

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Image of the PZL SW-4 Puszczyk (Tawny Owl)
Image from official Leonardo marketing materials.


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