The History of Bell Helicopter: 1970 - 1979

Bell AH-1G1970

  • The U.S. Army awards a contract for 170 additional Bell AH-1s with an initial funding of $5 million.
  • With $20 million in initial funding, the U.S. Army orders 289 Bell UH-1Hs.
  • Selected by the Canadian government as the light observation helicopter for the Canadian Armed Forces, 74 Bell OH-58As are ordered.
  • The U.S. Air Force formally accepts its first Bell UH-1N Twin Huey at Eglin AFB, FL.
  • FAA certification is received for the Bell 212.
  • The Bell 214 is initiated, built, and has first flight. Also known as the “Huey Plus,” the Bell 214 was conceived from a request by the Imperial Iranian Air Force.

1971

  • The U.S. Army contracts with Bell Helicopter to provide 300 Bell UH-1H helicopters, funded at $37.5 million.
  • Delivery of the first Bell UH-1N Twin Huey is taken by the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • The Bell 206B JetRanger II, powered by an Allison 250-C20 engine, receives FAA type certification.
  • Acceptance of the first of 50 twin-engine Bell CUH-1Ns is made by the Canadian Armed Forces.
  • In honor of the company’s 20th year in Texas, the mayor of Fort Worth proclaims “Bell Helicopter Week.”
  • The first Bell 206B JetRanger II production model delivers to Okanagan Helicopters Ltd. of Canada.
  • The Bell 212 receives FAA Category A certification.
  • Presentation of the Bell 207 Sioux Scout prototype from 1963 to the U.S. Army Aviation Museum in Ft. Rucker, AL, occurs.
  • The first of 74 Bell COH-58A light observation helicopters is delivered to Canadian Armed Forces.

1972

  • Commercial and international marketing break all-time records with firm orders for 105 helicopters valued at $23 million.
  • Bell Helicopter receives a $24,732,793 contract from the U.S. Army as prime systems integrator of the Improved Cobra Armament Program (ICAP). The contract calls for integrating the tube-launched, optically tracked, wireless-guide (TOW) system into eight U.S. Army Bell AH-1Gs.
  • Twenty-four Bell UH-1Hs are added to a co-production contract between Bell Helicopter and the People’s Republic of China.
  • The U.S. Air Force takes delivery of the first two of 30 Bell HH-1H local base rescue helicopters.
  • Petroleum Helicopters Inc. (PHI) orders 33 new Bell helicopters, valued at $5 million. This is the largest single commercial helicopter order in history.
  • Bell Helicopter announces a breakthrough in the elimination of helicopter vibration by suspending the fuselage from a “nodalized” beam.
  • Four Bell UH-1s are assigned to launch a site recovery force team during the last programmed Apollo lunar mission – the first night launch from Kennedy Space Center.
  • Texas Congressman Jim Wright announces the sale of 287 new Bell 214As and 202 Bell AH-1Js to Iran through the U.S. Government. Total value of the purchase exceeds $500 million.
  • James F. Atkins becomes president of the company, replacing Edwin J. Ducayet.

1973

  • The U.S. Army orders 74 additional Bell OH-58A helicopters. The contract is valued at $6.5 million.
  • An additional 20 Bell AH-1J SeaCobras are ordered by the U.S. Marines. The contract is valued at $5 million.
  • The U.S. Army orders 180 Bell UH-1H helicopters. The contract is valued at $27.4 million.
  • Under an option, the U.S. Army orders 16 additional Bell UH-1H helicopters. The contract is valued at $2.6 million.
  • The 1,000th Bell 206B JetRanger II is delivered.
  • In a contract valued at $9.5 million, the U.S. Navy orders 24 additional Bell UH-1N helicopters.
  • Bell Helicopter is awarded a NASA/U.S. Army contract to build and test two tiltrotor research aircraft. Estimated cost of the four-year program is $28 million.
  • The U.S. Army awards Bell Helicopter a $44.7 million contract to initiate development of an Advanced Attack Helicopter system. Total development funds could reach $120 million. The three-year program calls for Bell Helicopter to design and fabricate two flying prototypes and one ground test vehicle. The Army will select the production contractor for an estimated $500 million run in three to five years.
  • A single-month record of 70 commercial aircraft deliveries is achieved.

XV-15

1974

  • Bell Helicopter receives a $59.2 million U.S. Army contract to modify 101 of the U.S. Army’s existing Bell AH-1G Cobras into Bell AH-1Q TOW Cobras.
  • A Bell Helicopter Supply Center is established at Amsterdam Airport Schipol, The Netherlands.
  • The Bell 214A developed in partnership with Iran for offshore use makes its first flight.
  • A ceremony at the Hurst, TX, plant commemorates the delivery of the 20,000th Bell helicopter.
  • The first Bell Helicopter AH-1J SeaCobra arrives in Japan.
  • Initial flight is made by the new Bell 206L LongRanger. An experimental Bell 206LM with a four-blade rotor is developed.
  • The U.S. Army awards Bell Helicopter a modification to two existing contracts, calling for 54 additional Bell UH-1H utility helicopters, valued at nearly $12 million.
  • Under a $54 million U.S. Army contract, 189 additional Bell AH-1 helicopters are to be modified to the Bell AH-1Q TOW/Cobra configuration.

1975

  • An Iranian Bell 214A sets five world records in altitude and time-to-climb categories.
  • Delivery of the first 290 production Bell AH-1Q TOW Cobra helicopters is made to the U.S. Army at Hurst, TX.
  • The Bell 206L LongRanger receives FAA certification.
  • First flight of the Bell YAH-63 prototype occurs.
  • Bell Helicopter achieves a major technical breakthrough when the main transmission of a Bell 214A runs for 1.5 hours without oil.
  • The government of Iran names Bell Helicopter as partner in a joint venture organized to establish a modern helicopter industry in Iran. The program includes co-production of 400 Bell 214s.
  • A $37 million production contract for 44 Bell AH-1Ss (the improved version of the AH-1G) is awarded to Bell Helicopter by the U.S. Army.

AH-1S1976

  • Bell Helicopter Operations Corporation is formed to carry out a long-term co-production and joint venture agreement with the Iranian government.
  • The company adopts a new name, Bell Helicopter Textron.
  • FAA certification is received for the Bell 214B.
  • Ceremonies for the 25th anniversary celebrating the Hurst, TX, plant occur.
  • The Bell AH-1T prototype (improved AH-1J) makes its first flight.
  • Delivery of the first of 198 Bell AH-1Ss modified from existing aircraft is made to the U.S. Army at Bell Helicopter’s Amarillo, TX, plant.
  • The 2,000th Bell 206B JetRanger II is delivered to the McDonald’s Corporation. Delivery was accepted by founder Ray Kroc.
  • First flight occurs for the Bell 222 prototype.
  • The U.S. Army awards Bell Helicopter Textron a production contract for 22 additional Bell AH-1Ss, increasing the total order to 66.
  • The first NASA/U.S. Army Bell XV-15 tiltrotor is rolled out at Bell Helicopter’s Flight Research Center.
  • Dedication ceremonies for Bell Helicopter’s Machining Center are held in Grand Prairie, TX.
  • A contract is awarded for 82 additional Bell AH-1Ss.
  • Bell Helicopter sets a new one-month delivery record of 90 commercial helicopters.

1977

  • The Bell 222 makes its initial public flight at Helicopter Association of America’s annual meeting. Later versions include the Bell 222A, 222B, 222SP and 222U.
  • Bell Helicopter announces the development of a Bell 206B-3 JetRanger III, a more powerful version of the world’s most popular helicopter.
  • The U.S. Army formally accepts the initial production model of the Bell AH-1S.
  • First hover flight of the Bell XV-15 (aka Bell 301) tiltrotor research aircraft takes place at Bell Helicopter’s Flight Research Center.
  • Deliveries of the Bell JetRanger III to customers all over the world begin.
  • The U.S. Marine Corps orders 22 additional Bell AH-1Ts.
  • Petroleum Helicopters Inc. (PHI) records 1,100,000 flight hours on its Bell 47s. This is a record unequaled in commercial helicopter operations.
  • Bell Helicopter announces the development of the Bell 214ST, an 18-seat, twin-engine, stretched version of the Bell 214.
  • The U.S. Marine Corps formally accepts the first production Bell AH-1T.
  • An option to purchase 83 additional Bell AH-1Ss is exercised by the U.S. Army.

Bell 222 "Airwolf"

1978

  • Construction begins on the two-story, 135,000 square-foot Bell Helicopter Technical Center at the Hurst, TX, facility.
  • A single pilot instrument flight rules (IFR) system, designed for the new seven-seat Bell 206L2 LongRanger II, is announced. Bell Helicopter and Collins Avionics developed the system.
  • The Bell XV-15 tiltrotor research aircraft is shipped to NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, for extensive wind tunnel testing.
  • Additional Bell AH-1Ts are ordered by the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • The Bell 206L2 LongRanger II receives FAA certification. First customer deliveries follow one month later.
  • Bell Helicopter President James Atkins announces development of the Bell 412, an advanced technology, four-blade variant of the Bell 212.
  • Sixty-six additional production Bell AH-1Ss are ordered by the U.S. Army.
  • The Bell 206L2 LongRanger II receives FAA certification for single pilot IFR.

Bell 206 Factory1979

  • Bell receives an order for eight commercial Bell 212s from the People’s Republic of China, a first by a U.S. helicopter manufacturer.
  • The second Bell XV-15 makes its first flight in helicopter mode.
  • First flight of the Bell 214ST occurs.
  • The second Bell XV-15 completes its first conversion from hover to conventional airplane mode and back again.
  • The Bell 412, destined to become Bell Helicopter Textron’s first four-blade production helicopter, makes its first flight.
  • Construction begins on a 270,000 square-foot, $10 million manufacturing building at the Hurst, TX, facility.
  • During ImaginEighties, a Bell Helicopter Textron sponsored program, orders are received for more than 200 commercial aircraft, valued at $200 million. Included are $150 million in customer commitments for the Bell 214ST.
  • Bell Helicopter Textron achieves record-setting delivery of 585 commercial helicopters to domestic and foreign customers.