On May 18, 1959, according to The Minister of Communication's Decree, Air Traffic and Communication Aerodromes Directorate (ZRLiLK) began its activity. Romuald Pawulski became its first president. The headquarters of ZRLiLK was at 17 Grójecka Street in Warsaw.
After the organization period, on September 1st, 1959 The Minister of Communication's Decree concerning the charter of the directorate's statute came into force. This day is accepted as the date of the Air Traffic and Communication Aerodromes Directorate's foundation. ZRLiLK's main tasks were:
directing and controlling the air traffic taking place in the airways and above the aerodromes
supervision of the air traffic beyond the controlled space (so-called supervised traffic, the equivalent of contemporary uncontrolled traffic)
communication administration of the airways and ground technical installations of these airways in the area of the People's Republic of Poland.
Owing to narrow investment outlays and exchange limits, investments on international airways of the People's Republic of Poland and on the central Warsaw/Okęcie airport were accomplished first. Their task was to fulfill the minimum standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization. The remaining state aerodromes were equipped only in a limited way or were not equipped at all. At so-called co-exploited aerodromes (military aerodromes accessible for civilian air traffic) pilots had mainly military navigation installations at their disposal.
Taking increasing air traffic into consideration, in the first year of its activity ZRLiLK undertook action in the most urgent matters:
building precision approach radar (PAR) at Okęcie airport, VOR PNO beacon, Surveillance Radar Equipment (SRE) and the Air Traffic Control Centre quarters
adaptation of the Rzeszów Airport building for the Air Traffic Controllers Training Centre.
extension of the radio, telephony and teletype network
Among the formerly mentioned projects of ZRLiLK, there was also elaborating and establishing air traffic controller's licence. It was strictly connected with the plan for future controller's training. At the turn of the year 1961/1962, for the first time in Polish aviation history a four-person group of employees from the Air Traffic Department were sent for a training course in the field of air traffic control to Aero Radiolimited School in England. Those four pioneers were: Ignacy Piotrowski, Ludwik Cybulski (Surveillance control course), Bronisław Hułas and Henryk Kot (Area control course). After their return the graduates started first the Air Traffic Instructors Unit with Ignacy Piotrowski as a chief.
In 1962 PAR radar was launched, in 1963 the Air Traffic Controllers Training Centre in Rzeszów. In 1964 the Air Traffic Control Centre quarters had already been built (in rough condition), finishing works lasted up to 1967.
In 1963 the first theoretical course for 20 people was organized. In the same year the first radar course for PAR took place. This course was lectured by Telefunken representative Franz Lang in cooperation with Bronisław Hułas and Henryk Kot. Four students participated in the course: M. Dobrzyński, J. Chojnacki, M. Skolimowski and W. Matusiak who, in 1964, achieved the first ZRLiLK air traffic controller licence.
From 1963 to 1964 the new structure of airways with ten VOR beacons was introduced.
In February and March 1964 the first practical training course for the graduates of the theoretical course was executed in the Air Traffic Controllers Training Centre in Rzeszów.
In 1964-1965 the new Air Traffic Control Centre quarters were equipped. Telefunken installed SRE radar, W.G. Pye & Co. Ltd. installed the radio equipment, and The Solartron Company was making preparations to install radar simulators. The preparation to launch the first approach control unit was also started in that period. For the first time the theoretical course for twelve army officers was organized. Those officers were to create the framework of the common approach control unit in Warsaw.
In 1965 the examination commission licenced the first air traffic controllers, permitting them to lead procedural controls.
In 1966 and 1967 the remaining candidates for controllers were included in the theoretical training in Warsaw and practical training in Rzeszów. The aim was to start a unitary system of air traffic control connecting all central and local Polish ATC units, and the units of neighbouring countries.
In 1969, an area control radar was launched in Poznań.
In the 1960s ZRLiLK received Li-2 aircraft, withdrawn from LOT Polish Airlines (PLL "LOT"). In this aircraft, registered as SP-LKE, commonly called "The Parrot" (the name is also used nowadays), American electronic mensuration devices, were installed. They were used for examining and calibrating the radar equipment. In that time, air traffic services were organized and developed at local aerodromes.
In 1974-1975 ZRLiLK was given the AVIA BM area control radar. The Instrument Landing System (ILS) was established in Warsaw. New VOR beacons were still being installed.
In 1979 the newest surveillance radar equipment ASR-8 from Texax Instrument was bought in the USA. The used Telefunken radar was still active and exploited as an emergency device. (while ASR-8 was damaged or maintained).
The same year Air Traffic Control Centre operative stands were updated by buying applicable devices from the French companies SESA and Nardeaux. In the area control, the so-called ASR-8 "peep", which included the whole Flight Information Region (FIR) at the high altitudes, was introduced. The screens monitoring actual information about the weather and the functioning of aerodrome devices were installed on the operative stands.
Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunication Network (AFTN) was bought from Alcatel. Its terminals connect all air traffic services.
The political situation at the beginning of 1980s caused a decrease in air traffic. This situation has been improving slowly since the year 1983.
In the beginning of the 1980s, the Air Traffic Services Employees Trade Union arose. Next, the Polish Air Traffic Controllers Association "POLATCA" was registered.
In 1986 the area control radar in Poznań was replaced with a new model, AVIA BM, made in Poland.
In 1987 the antiquated Air Traffic Controllers Training Centre was moved from Rzeszów to a newly built extension in Okęcie, Warsaw.
On October 23, 1987, on the basis of Act 185, the previous activity of ZRLiLK was overtaken by "Polish Airports" State Enterprise. From this moment "Polish Airports" is an independent and self-financing enterprise.
In 1989, on account of low earnings, large technical neglects, and equipment damages, several dozen air traffic services employees withdrew from the enterprise.
Polish Air Traffic Controllers Association "POLATCA" became a member of International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers "IFATCA".
In 1994 POLATCA, in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Central Inspectorate, the National Aviation Council and "Polish Airports" State Enterprise, organized the first Federation of Air Traffic Controllers European Conference in the Poland's history. 300 people from 30 countries arrived for the three day long convention.
In 1997 POLATCA and the Air Traffic Agency patronized the First International Meeting of Polish Air Traffic Controllers in Pułtusk. Each and every living Polish controller attended the meeting. Franz Lang, their first instructor was the honourary visitor.
Air Traffic Agency.
1990s was the period of stable, successive growth of the enterprise, also in the field of air traffic control. As a result of a growing number of tasks, the necessity for a separation of air traffic services arose.
In 1992, in "Polish Airports" State Enterprise structures the Air Traffic Agency came into existence. The agency concentrates its activity on modernization and extension of the air traffic and navigation systems, and on personnel training and raising qualifications. Fulfilling the Council of Ministers' Defensive Affairs Committee decision, dated March 7, 1996, the the Minister of Transport and Water Management in coordination with Minister of National Defence in a decision dated July 31, 1996 appointed military-and-civil the Organizing Unitary Air Traffic Management System Unit.
As a result of the work of the Unit, a document entitled "The Conception of a Unitary Air Traffic Management System" was created. The concept describes air space management, air traffic management, air traffic services and their cooperation with air force in detail.
In February 1998, as a result of "The Conception" acceptance, the sub-units consisting of civil and military experts created executive plans. The plans were agreed in May 1999, and presented together with "The Conception" to the Minister of Transport and Water Management and to the Minister of National Defence. After ratifying the plan, both Ministers passed adequate decisions ordering its realization.
In 1996 the building of the Air Traffic Management Centre started. It lasted 24 months and was finished on June 26, 1998.
On April 1, 2007, by virtue of the December 8, 2006 Act, as an independent unit, isolated from "Polish Airports" State Enterprise structures, the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency started its duty.