The History of Bell Helicopter: 2000 - 2009

AH-1Z2000

  • Officials from Bell Helicopter and Agusta dedicate the new Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company (BAAC) headquarters at Alliance Airport, Fort Worth, TX.
  • The wing and fuselage for the first BA609 civil tiltrotor are joined.
  • The first upgraded Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter achieves its first flight at Bell Helicopter’s Amarillo, TX, facility.

2001

  • Bell/Agusta’s AB139 prototype performs its first flight at the AgustaWestland facilities in Coscina Costa, Italy.
  • The 500th Bell 407 is delivered to Mr. Hans-Juergen Pabst at Baden-Baden, Germany.

2002

  • The first production AB139 is demonstrated at Farnborough International Airshow.
  • Upgrades are ordered for 100 Bell UH-1Ns and 180 AH-1Ws by the U.S. Marine Corps. The upgraded versions will be known as Bell UH-1Y “Yankee/Venom” and AH-1Z “Zulu/Viper.”
  • All five H-1 test aircraft are delivered and flown by the U.S. Marine Corps. By October, the aircraft had logged a total of approximately 480 flight hours and 33,000 static test hours. Estimated savings to the U.S. Marine Corps total $3 billion in operating and support costs over a 30-year period.
  • Television actor, Kenneth Tobey, who starred in the successful CBS TV series, Whirlybirds, passes away. Whirlybirds was one of the first television shows to predominately feature helicopters in the 1950s, and consistently featured a Bell Model 47G.
  • Thales Avionics’ TopOwl helmet-mounted display system is chosen for the Bell AH-1Z, with the first system delivering in January 2003. TopOwl, has an integrated Gen IV image intensifier and forward looking infrared radar (FLIR) capability, and provides transition from day to night use at the push of a button.

BA609

2003

  • The BA609 civil tiltrotor first flight lasts 36 minutes and the aircraft reaches a maximum altitude of 50 feet.
  • A fleet of seven Bell 412s, owned by ASESA, reaches 20,000 flight hours.
  • Mike “Red” Redenbaugh becomes CEO of the company, replacing John Murphey.

2004

  • Final phase of suitability testing begins for the Bell Boeing V-22 aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1).
  • The surviving Bell XV-3 tiltrotor testbed from the 1950s arrives at Bell Helicopter’s Arlington, TX, facility to undergo restoration for the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH.
  • First flight of the Bell Helicopter Tail Fin demonstrator, installed on a Bell 407, takes place.
  • The Bell Boeing V-22 begins the final phase of suitability testing aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1).
  • The Bell 210 completes its first flight at the Bell Helicopter subsidiary Edwards & Associates in Bristol, TN.
  • FAA certification of the AB139, developed by Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company (BAAC) to fulfill the needs of the offshore oil industry, is received.
  • Bell Helicopter’s Flight Research Center is renamed Xworx.
  • Bell Helicopter is named number one in customer service for the 10th consecutive year by Professional Pilot magazine.

2005

  • The Bell UH-1Y and AH-1Z make their first ship landings aboard the USS Bataan (LHD-5) off the Virginia Capes coast.
  • Eight Bell Boeing MV-22s deploy on the USS Bataan (LHD-5) for operational evaluation aboard ship. The aircraft operates in the Atlantic Ocean off the North Carolina coast.
  • FAA certification of the Bell 210 is received.
  • The BA609 civil tiltrotor completes its first transition to airplane mode in flight.
  • Bell Helicopter and NAVAIR Test Integration Team members complete the first set of Bell AH-1Z and UH-1Y ship suitability trials.
  • A $2.2 billion contract is awarded to Bell Helicopter to develop the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH), a militarized version of the Bell 407 designed to eventually replace the aging Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior fleet.
  • Bell Helicopter Canada Ltd. delivers its 3,000th helicopter. The Bell 412 was delivered to Bill Chiles and Mike Suldo of Air Logistics.
  • Approval of the full-rate production of the Bell Boeing V-22 is announced.
  • The U.S. Marine Corps receives delivery of the first Bell AH-1Z and UH-1Y aircraft.
  • Aviation International News (AIN) names Bell Helicopter number one in its Product Support Survey.
  • Bell Helicopter announces the acquisition of the maintenance and overhaul assets of US Helicopter, Inc., a privately held company providing depot-level maintenance and upgrade installations for a variety of Bell Helicopter’s government products.
  • Bell Helicopter acquires Acadian Composites, the structural composite panel repair business of Petroleum Helicopters, Inc. Acadian Composites will become part of Aeronautical Accessories, Inc.

2006

  • The prototype Bell ARH-70A completes its first flight at the Arlington, TX, flight test facility, reaching a speed of 80 knots and an altitude of 500 feet during the 1.5-hour flight.
  • Development-testing programs for the Bell AH-1Z and UH-1Y are completed.
  • The Bell 417 flies for the first time at the company’s Arlington, TX, flight test facility. The aircraft reaches a speed of 70 knots and an altitude of approximately 1,000 feet.
  • Two Bell MV-22B tiltrotor aircrafts successfully cross the Atlantic for the first time. The flight originates in New River, NC, and ends at the Farnborough Aerodrome in the United Kingdom.
  • Wind tunnel testing for a one-fifth scale model of the proposed Bell Boeing Quad Tiltrotor (QTR) is completed at the NASA Langley Research Center Transonic Dynamics Tunnel (TDT).

2007

  • The Bell 429 makes its first flight at the Bell Helicopter Mirabel, Quebec, Canada, facility.
  • First flight of the Bell ARH-70 Arapaho is achieved at Bell Helicopter’s flight test facility, Xworx, in Arlington, TX. The Bell ARH-70 is a four-bladed, single-engine, light military helicopter design based on the Bell 407 for the U.S. Army.
  • The second BA609 makes its first flight at the AgustaWestland facility in Cameri, Italy.
  • Pilots Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill complete their around-the-world flight via the North and South Poles in a Bell 407. The pair flew approximately 36,000 miles over 34 countries and logged more than 300 hours in the air. The flight originated at Alliance Airport, Fort Worth, TX.
  • General James Conway, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, announces the deployment of a squadron of Bell Boeing V-22s into a combat zone (Iraq) for the first time.
  • Richard Millman becomes CEO of the company, replacing Mike Redenbaugh.

2008

  • Textron announces plans to build a new manufacturing plant in Mexico through an agreement with the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. The plant manufactures various minor assemblies, structural elements and wire bundles for the Bell 429.
  • Bell Helicopter Canada Ltd. opens a new 38,000 square-foot Canadian Supply Center at the Calgary International Airport.
  • Bell Helicopter delivers its 100th commercial helicopter to a company in India. ABIR Infrastructure Private Ltd. receives its Bell 412 during the India Aviation Air Show.
  • McTurbine becomes part of the Bell Helicopter Customer Support and Services organization. McTurbine is a service provider for engine overhaul and maintenance on the Honeywell T-53 and the Rolls-Royce M250.
  • A 206B ENG is donated to the Newseum, a 250,000 square-foot museum of news in Washington, D.C.
  • Bell Boeing receives a $10.4 billion, multi-year V-22 Osprey contract.
  • In a move to further broaden its award-winning customer support and service capabilities, Bell Helicopter announces the acquisition of SkyBOOKS, an innovative aviation management solutions business that provides comprehensive information necessary for compliance with the regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration and international regulatory agencies.
  • Bell Helicopter announces the addition of McTurbine Inc., which was accomplished with the acquisition of United Industrial Corporation (UIC) by its parent, Textron Inc., at the end of 2007. With the integration of McTurbine Inc., Bell Helicopter adds engine maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capability to its existing support and service portfolio.

2009

  • The Bell 429 receives FAA certification.
  • Bell Helicopter announces that Scott’s – Bell 47, Inc. assumed ownership of the Bell Model 47 type certificates. Scott’s – Bell 47, Inc. has become a leading supplier of Bell 47 parts.
  • The Bell 429, Bell Helicopter’s newest light twin engine helicopter, receives certification by Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA), and also meets FAA certification requirements.
  • Bell Helicopter announces the selection of its first Customer Service Facility (CSF) provider in Russia. Kazan Aviation Enterprise was appointed as a CSF, offering field maintenance for the Bell 407.
  • The U.S. Army awards a $60.3 million contract for 24 Bell 407 helicopters as part of the Army’s planned Foreign Military Sale to Iraq.
  • Bell Helicopter is named number one in customer service for the 15th consecutive year by Professional Pilot magazine.
  • A contract to modify 27 additional aircraft in the OH-58D Safety Enhancement Program is received.
  • The MV-22 completes an 18-month deployment to Iraq and begins its first deployment to Afghanistan.
  • The HMM-163, also known as the “Ridge Runners” helicopter squadron, is the first squadron to deploy with the new UH-1Y “Yankee” tactical utility helicopter.
  • Textron Inc. announces John L. Garrison, Jr. as president and CEO of its Bell Helicopter business unit. He replaced Richard “Dick” Millman, who retired after 43 years of service to Textron.