The history of the Institute of Aviation goes back to the very beginnings of Polish independence, however, the official starting date of the Institute of Aviation is 1 August 1926. In Institute originally operated as the Technical Research Institute of Aviation. This name was used until the start of the Second World War. The activity profile from 1926-1939 focused mainly on the testing and certification of aircraft. All the Polish military aircraft before the War were tested and certified at the Institute. It soon became a valued research institution in the country and the seedbed for invaluable inventions that opened up new frontiers in the aircraft industry. This fast growing and developing institution was halted by the events that took place in 1939. The Institute suspended its activity during the War but the staff kept in close connection with aviation, working in renowned centres abroad, particularly in England, and developing strategies for the Institute’s reactivation after the War.
The Aviation Institute of Technology was established in 1945, which was moved to buildings in Warsaw’s Okęcie neighbourhood that remained intact. In the initial stage of its activity, pulsed and ramjet engines were developed at the Institute and works were begun on the groundbreaking SP-GIL helicopter in the Polish aviation industry. Approval tests of the Szpak 2 aircraft and the Sęp first post-war glider were also conducted at the Institute.
In 1948 the Institute was renamed as the General Institute of Aviation, while in 1952 it was given the title of the Institute of Aviation, used until today. In the years after the war, the scientific, research and design staff primarily focused on designing and producing licensed PO-2 biplanes and the very advance for that time Mig-15 jet fighter.
The main constructor at the time was Professor Tadeusz Sołtyk, an outstanding aviation visionary, who supervised work on the TS-Bies and TS-Iskra aircraft, as well as the prototype of the supersonic striker and military jet trainer TS-Grot. These accomplishments continue to receive admiration from aviation experts. Together with aircraft airframe constructions, the Institute started specializing in the design and construction of projectiles, such as rockets and flying targets. One of the most successful designs was the Meteor 1 meteorological rocket, developed entirely by the Institute of Aviation. Subsequent years saw the Institute focus on the programme for developing a military jet trainer aircraft for the Polish Air Force. The Iryda I-22 aircraft (created at the Institute of Aviation) was granted all required certification confirming the aircraft construction programme complies with all legal regulations and military requirements. The Institute of Aviation successfully completed the task it was entrusted with by the Polish Government.
Another challenge for Institute engineers was the construction of the I-23 Manager, a 4-seater composite personal plane of the newest generation. The works were successfully completed and the aircraft’s design met with favourable evaluation from aviation experts. Developments during the period 1990-2000 which are worth mentioning include the 2-seater trainer aircraft I-25 As, the 2-seater training & patrol helicopter IS-2, and the patrol and rescue hovercraft PRP-560 Ranger.
Today, the Institute of Aviation is a research centre providing the highest quality testing services, which offer new solutions to contemporary aviation and space industry problems. The Institute also closely collaborates with world leaders in the aerospace sector, e.g.: General Electric, Boeing, Airbus and Pratt and Whitney. It also provides services for other industries. The Institute of Aviation consists of 5 research centres, 30 specialised laboratories, including 5 laboratories unique on a global scale. It has an over 1,800-strong workforce of scientists, researchers and engineers.