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Bell Textron Inc.
  • Bell Helicopter Company
  • Bell Helicopter Textron
  • Bell Helicopter
Industry Aerospace
Predecessor Bell Aircraft
Founded 1960; 64 years ago (1960)
Headquarters ,
Key people
Lisa Atherton (President & CEO)
Parent Textron

Bell Textron Inc. is an American aerospace manufacturer headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. A subsidiary of Textron, Bell manufactures military rotorcraft at facilities in Fort Worth, and Amarillo, Texas, USA as well as commercial helicopters in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada.


Bell Aircraft

The company was founded on July 10, 1935, as Bell Aircraft Corporation by Lawrence Dale Bell in Buffalo, New York. The company focused on the designing and building of fighter aircraft. Their first fighters were the XFM-1 Airacuda, a twin-engine fighter for attacking bombers, and the P-39 Airacobra. The P-59 Airacomet, the first American jet fighter, the P-63 Kingcobra, the successor to the P-39, and the Bell X-1 were also Bell products.

The Bell 47 is displayed at the MoMA
Bell Textron logo
Previous Bell logo

In 1941, Bell hired Arthur M. Young, a talented inventor, to provide expertise for helicopter research and development. It was the foundation for what Bell hoped would be a broader economic base for his company that was not dependent on government contracts. The Bell 30 was their first full-size helicopter (first flight December 29, 1942) and the Bell 47 became the first helicopter in the world rated by a civil aviation authority, becoming a civilian and military success. Due to its burgeoning success, the helicopter division relocated as a separate unit to Hurst, Texas in 1951.

Bell Helicopter

Textron purchased Bell Aerospace in 1960. Bell Aerospace was composed of three divisions of Bell Aircraft Corporation, including its helicopter division, which had become its only division still producing complete aircraft. The helicopter division was renamed Bell Helicopter Company and in a few years, with the success of the UH-1 Huey during the Vietnam War, it had established itself as the largest division of Textron. In January 1976, Textron changed the division's name to Bell Helicopter Textron.

Bell Helicopter had a close association with AgustaWestland. The partnership dated back to separate manufacturing and technology agreements with Agusta (Bell 47 and Bell 206) and as a sublicence via Agusta with Westland (Bell 47). When the two European firms merged, the partnerships were retained, with the exception of the AB139, which is now known as the AW139. Bell and AW cooperated also on the AW609 tiltrotor.

Bell planned to reduce employment by 760 in 2014 as fewer V-22s were made. A rapid prototyping center called XworX assists Bell's other divisions in reducing development time.

The company was rebranded as "Bell" on February 22, 2018.

Product list

Established in 1986, its Mirabel, Quebec facility assembles and delivers most of Bell's commercial helicopters and delivered its 5,000th helicopter on December 12, 2017.

Commercial helicopters

Model Intro. Until MTOW (lb/t) Notes
Bell 47 1946 1974 2,950 1.34 based on the Bell 30 prototype, piston engine
Bell 47J Ranger 1956 1967 2,950 1.34 Bell 47 executive variant
Bell 204/205 1959 1980s 9,500 4.31 Huey family civil variant, single turboshaft
Bell 206 1967 2017 3,200 1.45 light single or twin turboshaft
Bell 210 ? ? 11,200 5.08 205B
Bell 212 1968 1998 11,200 5.08 Civilian UH-1N Twin Huey
Bell 214 1972 1981 15,000 6.8 larger Huey
Bell 214ST 1982 1993 17,500 7.94 medium twin derived from the 214
Bell 222/230 1979 1995 8,400 3.81 light twin
Bell 407 1995 current 6,000 2.72 four-blade single derived from the 206L-4
Bell 412 1981 current 11,900 5.4 four-blade 212
Bell 427 2000 2010 6,550 2.97 407 derived light twin
Bell 429 GlobalRanger 2009 current 7,000 3.2 lengthened 427
Bell 430 1995 2008 9,300 4.22 222/230 stretch
Bell 525 Relentless 2018 current 20,500 9.3 in development
Bell 505 Jet Ranger X 2017 current 3,680 1.67 206 development
Bell Nexus 2020 current pre-production hybrid-electric propulsion system with six tilting ducted fans


Military helicopters

  • Bell H-12
  • Bell H-13 Sioux
    • Bell XH-13F
  • Bell XH-15
  • Bell HSL
  • Bell UH-1 Iroquois (or Huey)
    • Bell Huey family
    • Bell UH-1 Iroquois variants
  • Bell UH-1N Twin Huey
  • Bell YHO-4
  • Bell 207 Sioux Scout – experimental attack helicopter
  • Bell 533 – experimental Huey variant with increased performance
  • Bell AH-1 Cobra
  • Bell AH-1 SeaCobra/SuperCobra
  • Bell 309 KingCobra - experimental attack helicopter
  • YAH-63/Model 409 – competitor with the YAH-64 for Advanced Attack Helicopter program
  • Bell OH-58 Kiowa
  • H-1 upgrade program
  • Bell CH-146 Griffon
  • Bell ARH-70 Arapaho - cancelled armed reconnaissance helicopter
  • Bell 360 Invictus - proposed armed reconnaissance helicopter


CV-22 Osprey in flight
V-22 in flight
Bell V-280 Valor takeoff demo, 2019 Alliance Air Show, Fort Worth, TX
V-280 in flight
  • Bell XV-3
  • Bell XV-15
  • Bell Pointer
  • Bell V-247 Vigilant – currently in development
  • Bell V-280 Valor – currently in development, first flown 2017
  • V-22 Osprey – with Boeing BDS
  • TR918 Eagle Eye UAV
  • Quad TiltRotor – with Boeing BDS
  • Bell BAT (1984 tiltrotor project for LHX programme – not built)
  • Bell CTR-1900 (Tilt-rotor project only – not built)
  • Bell CTR-22 (Tilt-rotor project only – not built)
  • Bell CTR-750 (Tilt-rotor project only – not built)
  • Bell CTR-800 (Tilt-rotor project only – not built)
  • Bell D-326 (Clipper 1980 commercial tilt-rotor project – not built)

Projects produced by other companies

  • AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter (formerly 50-50 as the Agusta-Bell AB139, now 100% AgustaWestland)
  • AgustaWestland AW609 tiltrotor (formerly 50-50 as the Bell-Agusta BA609, now 100% AgustaWestland)
  • Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel

Unproduced designs

  • Bell 280 (project only, twin-engined wide-body variant of the Cobra)
  • Bell D-218
  • Bell D-230 (Flying Jeep project – not built)
  • Bell D-245
  • Bell D-246
  • Bell 400 TwinRanger (1984), cancelled 206-derived light twin
  • Bell D-292 (1985), Light Helicopter Experimental (LHX) prototype
  • Bell 417 (2006) cancelled Bell 407 growth variant
  • Bell FCX-001, March 2017 concept


Bell manufacturing and support facilities are:

  • Fort Worth, Texas - located at six manufacturing facilities throughout the DFW area; of these six the Manufacturing Technology Center (MTC) in Fort Worth, Texas serves as the primary manufacturing development facility of the Bell V-280 Valor, Bell 360 Invictus
  • Amarillo, Texas: located near Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport; assembly plant for H1, V-22 and 525
  • Mirabel, Quebec, Canada: opened in 1983 and located next to Montreal-Mirabel International Airport; it produces components for Bell 407, 412, 429, 505 and 525; assembly plant and finally assembly for current commercial products (407, 412, 429, 505).

See also

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