The History of Bell Helicopter: 1990 - 1999

Bell Model 2301990

  • Bell Helicopter Canada Ltd. delivers its 250th aircraft, a Bell 206B-3 JetRanger, to Chevron U.S.A. Inc. 
  • During engineering performance flight tests conducted at Bell Helicopter’s Flight Research Center, the Bell XV-15 sets five world altitude records.
  • The Bell XV-15 demonstrator performs at the front of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
  • The first Bell Boeing V-22 aircraft logs its 100th flight.
  • $611 million is added to future Bell Boeing V-22 funding by the U.S. Congress.
  • The Bell Boeing V-22 is given both research and development long-lead-time procurement funds by congressional authorization bills. U.S. President George H. W. Bush signs-off on the same day.
  • First flight is achieved for the first fully integrated Bell OH-58D Armed Kiowa Warrior prototype at Bell Helicopter’s Flight Research Center. The Bell OH-58D is equipped with a highly sophisticated, integrated computerized armament system.
  • Two Bell Boeing V-22s, designated aircraft numbers 3 and 4, successfully complete initial shipboard capability tests aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1).

1991

  • The Bell Boeing V-22 completes Phase One Shipboard Compatibility trials.
  • First flight of the new Bell OH-58D occurs.
  • The Collier Trophy, recognizing the greatest achievements for aeronautics or astronautics in America, is awarded to the Bell Boeing team for the V-22.
  • A NASA/FAA study on civil tiltrotors is released.
  • The test program is completed on the Bell 406 Combat Scout.
  • The U.S. Park Police take delivery of a Bell 412, continuing the relationship that began in 1973.
  • The Grover E. Bell Award recognizes the four-blade rotor engineering team’s effort for rotor dynamics.
  • Cobras, Hueys and Kiowas are praised for their Desert Storm performance.
  • A new co-production contract is signed. The U.S. Air Force squadron marks over 150,000 safe flight hours.
  • The 100th Bell AH-1W SuperCobra is delivered.
  • Bell Helicopter Canada Ltd. unveils the Bell 230.
  • The Bell Boeing V-22 number 1 returns to Bell Helicopter’s Flight Research Center.
  • The U.S. Congress approves $790 million in U.S. Navy Research & Development funding for full-time development of the Bell Boeing V-22. The $15 million is also included in the U.S. Department of Defense budget for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Forces variant.
  • Arthur Young visits Bell Helicopter for the last time at age 86. He passes away four years later, on May 30, 1995, of cancer at his home in Berkeley, CA.
  • Bell Boeing and the FAA work on civil certification of tiltrotor aircraft.
  • The Bell 230 makes its first flight.
  • Webb F. Joiner becomes president of the company, replacing Leonard M. Horner. Joiner later serves as CEO from 1995–1998.

Bell 412

Bell 206B1992

  • Bell Boeing V-22 number 4 begins the extreme climate testing phase of its full-scale development program, subjecting the aircraft to extreme conditions.
  • The Canadian Ministry of National Defense announces the purchase of 100 Bell 412s for its Utility Tactical Transport Helicopter program to replace existing mixed fleet of aircraft.
  • Bell Helicopter and the defense arm of the General Electric Company, GEC-Marconi, announce an agreement to offer a modified Bell AH-1W, called “Venom,” to meet the British Army’s future attack helicopter requirement.
  • The first of 36 Bell AH-1W SuperCobras are delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
  • The U.S. Army conducts a ceremony at Ft. Rucker, AL, to honor the Bell UH-1H (serial number 62-02109) for achieving 20,000 flight hours. Built in 1962, it was flown in Vietnam for five years before becoming a training helicopter at the U.S. Army’s Aviation School.
  • A Bell 206L3 LongRanger is delivered to the Moscow city police in Russia.
  • Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney sends a letter to Congress outlining a new Bell Boeing V-22 proposal. The Department of Defense will use most of the $1.5 billion in Bell Boeing V-22 development funding to complete current phases of the program.
  • Bell Boeing V-22 number 4 crashes during a landing approach to U.S. Marine Corps Base Quantico, killing all seven onboard. Test flights are suspended pending an investigation. The preliminary report into the crash indicates that a series of events led to a drive train failure. This is a correctable mechanical problem, and no other basic issues were uncovered. As a result of major efforts by its supporters, the Bell Boeing V-22 program comes to a successful conclusion for the year with the U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announcement that a new EMD letter contract would be awarded to the Bell Boeing team. The letter contract provides initial funding of $550 million on a contract that will total more than $2 billion.
  • Bell Helicopter unveils the Huey II demonstrator aircraft to 60 representatives from 60 nations that operate the Bell UH-1H. The Huey II is a major upgrade that enables the Bell UH-1 to operate well into the next century with greater performance than currently available.
  • The Bell 206B JetRanger N206BH, owned by Edwards & Associates of Bristol, TN, achieves 30,000 flight hours.

1993

  • Deliveries of the newest version of the Bell 206L LongRanger, the Bell 206L4, begin. It has an upgraded transmission that increases lifting capacity by 500 pounds.
  • Bell Helicopter announces the Bell 430 at the U.S. Helicopter Association’s Heli-Expo.
  • U.S. President Bill Clinton includes funds for the Bell Boeing V-22 in his first defense budget submittal. The proposed budget calls for an additional $77 million for Bell Boeing V-22 research and development. This amount is added to the nearly $1.4 billion in FY1992 and 1993 funds Congress had previously provided for the program (unspent by the previous administration).
  • The U.S. Army awards Bell Helicopter an $85 million contract to build 102 Bell TH-67 Creek training helicopters. The Bell TH-67 is a modified Bell 206B-3.
  • Petroleum Helicopters Inc. (PHI), one of the world’s leading helicopter service companies, takes delivery of the first new Bell 230 to be used in the petroleum industry.
  • The U.S. Army qualifies CW5 Mary Cara Smalley, the first female attack helicopter pilot, in a Bell AH-1F.
  • Bell Helicopter and IBM Federal Systems Co. announce an agreement to pursue the U.S. Marine Corps’ Bell AH-1W Integrated Weapons System program.
  • The first Bell TH-67 is delivered to the U.S. Army Aviation Warfighting Center, Ft. Rucker, AL.
  • The twin-engine version of the Bell 206L4, the Bell 206LT TwinRanger, receives FAA certification.

Bell 4071994

  • Bell Helicopter’s Eagle Eye flight tests are completed after 14 flights covering 39 hours of flight time, 36 landings, and after reaching an altitude of 120 feet.
  • The U.S. Army exercises its option to purchase an additional 35 Bell TH-67 trainers at a value of $28 million.
  • The Texas Association of Business names Bell Helicopter “Texas Business of the Year.”
  • Bell Helicopter delivers its 1,000th aircraft, a Bell 206LT, manufactured at the Mirabel, Canada, plant. The aircraft is delivered to Niagara Helicopters.
  • The 50,000th student enrolls in Bell Helicopter’s Training Academy.
  • Two Bell Boeing V-22s pay a first-time visit to a U.S. Marine Corps’ Capabilities Exercise, staged at Camp Lejeune, NC.
  • Fifteen armed Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warriors are delivered to the Mississippi Army National Guard, the first reserve unit to receive the aircraft.
  • Bell Boeing V-22s accumulate their 900th flight hour in combined fullscale development and engineering and manufacturing development testing. The milestone is achieved during a flight conducted at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, MD.
  • Texan Ron Bower departs from the Bell Helicopter Hurst, TX, facility in a Bell 206B-3 JetRanger on a solo around-the-world flight. Bower returns after setting a new around-the-world helicopter flight record of 24 days, 4 hours, and 36 minutes.
  • Legendary Bell Helicopter test pilot, Joe Mashman, passes away. Helicopter Association International names a new helicopter safety award in his honor.
  • Bell Helicopter delivers the first of 100 modified Bell 412s to the Canadian Minister of National Defense, David Collenette. In the Canadian Armed Forces, the Bell 412 is called the CH-146 Griffon.
  • The Bell 430 makes its first flight. Based on the Bell 230, the Bell 430 has an additional 18” in cabin length and is equipped with the 680 rotor system.
  • Bell Boeing and NAVAIR complete the final executive session for the Bell Boeing V-22 program’s Critical Design Review, ratifying the final configuration for the production-representative Bell Boeing V-22.
  • The Bell 412EP, with a PT6T-3D powerplant and redundant flight systems, successfully completes its first flight

Bell 407 First Flight

1995

  • Development of two new commercial helicopters, the Bell 407 and a twin-engine variant, the Bell 407T, is announced. Based in part on the Bell 206 LongRanger, the Bell 407 has a wider fuselage and the combat-tested four-blade rotor system of the Bell OH-58D.
  • The Bell 407 completes its first flight.
  • The Bell XV-15 tiltrotor testbed and an early-production Bell Boeing V-22 perform at the 41st Paris Air Show.
  • Bell Helicopter is named number one in customer service by Professional Pilot magazine.
  • Lloyd Shoppa becomes president of the company, replacing Webb F. Joiner.

1996

  • The Bell Model 47 commercial helicopter celebrates its 50th anniversary.
  • A $1.38 million contract with Bell Boeing is signed by the Department of Defense for the manufacture and delivery of four Bell Boeing V-22s. The first is to be delivered in 1999.
  • Bell Helicopter launches its first website.
  • The east to west helicopter around-the-world flight, piloted by Ron Bower and John Williams, lands in London, setting a new record time of 17 days, 6 hours, 14 minutes, and 25 seconds.
  • Bell Helicopter and Boeing announce their intention to harness their expertise and experience with the V-22 to develop a 9-seat civil tiltrotor.

Bell 430

1997

  • The Bell Boeing V-22 aircraft number 7, the first built under the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase of the program, completes its first flight at Bell Helicopter’s Flight Research Center in Arlington, TX.
  • Bell Helicopter and Agusta unveil their BA609 civil tiltrotor at the 42nd Paris Air Show.
  • The Bell 427 completes its first flight at the Mirabel, Quebec, Canada, facility.
  • Terry Stinson becomes president of the company, replacing Lloyd Shoppa. Stinson later serves as CEO from 1998–2001.

1998

  • Bell Helicopter’s Eagle Eye unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) begins a 50-hour test phase at Department of Defense proving grounds near Yuma, AZ.
  • Bell Helicopter and the Italian aerospace company, Agusta, announce a joint venture called Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company (BAAC), to develop Agusta’s in-house designed AB139 and the BA609 civil tiltrotor, following Boeing’s withdrawal.
  • Bell Helicopter announces plans to build a new $40 million tiltrotor assembly center in Amarillo, TX.
  • John Murphey becomes president of the company, replacing Terry Stinson. Murphey later serves as CEO from 2001–2003.

1999

  • The first production Bell Boeing V-22 is delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps. Delivery takes place at Bell Helicopter’s Flight Research Center in Arlington, TX.
  • Bell Helicopter purchased Edwards & Associates located in Piney Flats, TN. The purchase expanded Bell Helicopter’s in-house customization abilities and services to their customers. It is known today as Bell Helicopter – Piney Flats.
  • Bell/Agusta begins assembly of the BA609 tiltrotor.
  • Washington, D.C., observes “Tiltrotor Technology Demo Day,” as the MV-22 makes its public debut at the Pentagon.
  • Bell Helicopter is named number one in customer service for the 5th consecutive year by Professional Pilot magazine.
  • Bell Helicopter acquires Tennessee-based Edwards & Associates and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, Aeronautical Accessories Inc., Aeronautical Plastic Inc. and Rotor Blades Inc. Edwards & Associates is a leader in the manufacturing, selling and assembly of helicopter customization kits and accessories. The transaction brings customization opportunities in-house and enhances after-market sales.

First MV-22 Delivery to the US Marine Corps