Bell was responsible for design and construction of the Model 47, the first helicopter to receive Approved Type Certificate from the U.S. Civil Aviation Authority (on March 8,1946), and which remained in production for more than 25 years. Later helicopters of particular importance included the UH-1 Iroquois (Model 204) military utility helicopter (first flown October 1956), and the world's first purpose-designed tandem two-seat attack helicopter, the Model 209 (military AH-1 HueyCobra), first flown September 1965 and operated by the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1967. Production of HueyCobra in the U.S.A. ended, but Fuji in Japan still produced examples in the AH-1S version.
Bell programs include remanufacture of 180 AH-1W SuperCobras and 100 UH-1Ns of U.S. Marine Corps into AH-1Zs and UH-1Ys respectively under the H-1 Program, with upgrades common to both helicopter types including the installaton of General Electric T700 engines, four-blade composite hingless and bearingless rotors, and much more besides; upgrade and life-extension of UH-1Hs of other forces to UH-1H-II or Huey II standard (joint Bell and AlliedSignal program) by installation of AlliedSignal T53-L-703 turboshaft engine plus airframe improvements; production of the twin-turboshaft AH-1W SuperCobra for the U.S. Marine Corps (introduced 1986); and upgrade of 411 U.S. Army 0H- 58 Kiowa reconnaissance helicopters to OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed configuration (also for Taiwan). Also development and production of the BA 609, a civil tiltrotor transport in association with Agusta of Italy, after Boeing's share in the program was passed to Bell).
Bell participaates in the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey military tiltrotor program (first flown March 1989) to provide the U.S. forces with a vertical-lift transport and multipurpose aircraft capable also of strike, rescue, amphibious combat assault, and anti-submarine work.
Bell Helicopter Company, originally a division of Bell Aircraft, became a branch of Textron Inc. in 1960 and a fully-integrated subsidiary in January 1982. Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. is its current name; Bell has produced well over 33,000 helicopters. In 1986 commercial/civil helicopter production moved to Canada. Came to an agreement with IAR-SA Brasov in 1996 to allow license manufacture of AH-1W SuperCobra in Romania, tied with the purchase of a majority shareholding in IAR-SA Brasov.
A subsidiary of Textron Inc in the USA and Canada.
1995: Bell Helicopter Textron, PO Box 482, Fort Worth, TX 76101, USA, and Bell Helicopter Textron Canada, 12800 Rue de l’Avenir, St Janvier, Quebec J7J 1R4, Canada.
Bell Helicopter Canada was founded in 1984, with a production factory at Mirabel completed 1985 as a division of Textron Canada Ltd. Manufacture of Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. commercial/civil helicopters moved from U.S.A. to Mirabel 1986, leaving U.S. company free to concentrate on military types. Production encompasses Model 206B-3 JetRanger III five-seat light helicopter (first flown 1962 in original form and 1977 as JetRanger III) and its TH-67 military trainer variant; seven-seat Model 206L-4 LongRanger IV (first flown 1974 in original form and certificated 1992 as LongRanger IV); Model 206LT TwinRanger as twin-turboshaft variant of LongRanger (certified 1993); 15-seat Model 212, using twinned turboshafts; Model 230 intermediate- twin ten-seat helicopter (first flown August 1991); Model 407 extra-wide variant of LongRanger with a fourblade main rotor (first flown June 1995); Model 412EP 15-seat utility helicopter, also suited to specialized roles such as law enforcement, SAR, and medical (first flown 1979); Model 427 eight-seater (first flown December 1997) as a lengthened version of Model 407; and Model 430 derived from the Model 230 but with more engine power and a four-blade bearingless composite main rotor (first flown October 1995).
In 1952 Agusta was granted a license to build Bell Model 47 helicopters. First Agusta-built example flew May 1954, and over 1,200 were built before production ended in mid- 1970s. The company also produced Bell Iroquois models as Agusta-Bell 204B and 205, twin-engined Model 212 (still offered as AB-212 Naval/Skyshark) and Model 206 JetRanger (still offered as AB-206B JetRanger III) helicopters. In 1967, under Sikorsky license, production of SH-3D helicopters began, and in 1974 production of HH- 3F (S-61R); production of final HH-3F Combat SAR version lasted into mid-1990s. Together with Elicotteri Meridionali, SIAI-Marchetti, and other Italian companies, Agusta became involved in production of the Boeing Vertol CH-47C Chinook. Other license-built helicopters include AB-412EP/Griffon/Maritime Patrol versions of the Bell 412EP and Griffon, AMD-500E version of the McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) MD 500E, and Agusta-Boeing 520N NOTAR helicopter.