Civil coun­ter­parts

The Model 204B and its de­vel­op­ments.

Aviation Classics - - CONTENTS - Words: Tim Call­away

The high per­for­mance of the Bell UH-1, com­bined with its re­li­able and fuel ef­fi­cient en­gine soon at­tracted civil op­er­a­tor in­ter­est. Bell quickly re­alised the scope of this new mar­ket and de­vel­oped the ba­sic mil­i­tar y util­ity he­li­copter in to one more suited to civil needs.

The pri­mary re­quire­ments of both mil­i­tar y and civil he­li­copters cus­tomers are mission per­for­mance and re­li­a­bil­ity. The lat­ter are also look­ing for pas­sen­ger com­fort and most im­por­tantly cost ef­fec­tive­ness. In the Huey, Bell had pro­duced a ma­chine which am­ply met both mar­kets’ needs, a ro­tary winged DC-3 equiv­a­lent if you will. The suc­cess of the Huey in mil­i­tary ser­vice, when com­bined with its high re­li­a­bil­ity, fuel ef­fi­ciency and low main­te­nance and op­er­at­ing costs be­gan at­tract­ing en­quiries from civil cus­tomers as di­verse as oil com­pa­nies and law en­force­ment agen­cies as early as 1961. This prompted the devel­op­ment of a civil ver­sion of the UH-1B, known by its com­pany model num­ber, the Bell 204B. This differed from the mil­i­tary ver­sion in a num­ber of im­por­tant de­tails, not least of which was the adop­tion of the longer 48ft (14.63m) span ro­tor and longer tail boom of the UH-1D, giv­ing the 204B a max­i­mum take off weight of 8500lb (3850kg). The door locks and catches were strength­ened on the cabin doors, which were now jet­ti­son­able to act as emer­gency ex­its for the eight pas­sen­gers that could be ac­com­mo­dated in the stan­dard cabin. A range of cus­tom cabin in­te­ri­ors with dif­fer­ent seat­ing lay­outs were also avail­able and pas­sen­ger steps were fit­ted be­neath each of the cabin doors to ease en­try and exit. The cock­pit re­mained a full dual con­trol side by side two seat de­sign, but was fit­ted with civil avion­ics, such as ra­dios and nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems. The fire de­tec­tion and ex­tin­guish­ing sys­tem was changed for a civil ver­sion and the ex­ter­nal lights were im­proved to civil stan­dards. Lastly, a 35cu ft (0.99cu m) bag­gage com­part­ment that could ac­com­mo­date 400lb (182kg) was added to the tail boom. The pro­to­type Bell 204B, con­struc­tor’s num­ber 1501, first flew on March 8, 1962, pow­ered by the 1100hp Ly­coming T53-L-9A which was changed to the -11 model of the en­gine on later pro­duc­tion air­frames. The Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Author­ity (FAA) granted type ap­proval and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion on April 4, 1963, with 74 be­ing built by Bell for a vast range of civil op­er­a­tors, as well as an ad­di­tional 375 by Agusta in Italy and Fuji in Ja­pan over the course of the next decade. The two li­cence builders also sup­plied Bell 204Bs with a range of en­gines to mil­i­tary cus­tomers, as will be de­scribed later in this is­sue. The ad­vent of the UH-1D long bod­ied ver­sion of the mil­i­tary Huey in Au­gust 1961 also spawned a civil ver­sion, again known by the com­pany model num­ber, the Bell 205A. This first flew on March 22, 1967, pow­ered by the 1100hp T53-L-11 en­gine and its cabin, stretched by 3ft 5in (1.04m), could now ac­com­mo­date up to 15 pas­sen­ger seats, op­er­at­ing at the same max­i­mum weight as the Model 204B. Af­ter the first 39 205As had been built based on the UH-1D, the UH-1H with the 1400hp T53-L-13A ver­sion of the Ly­coming tur­boshaft be­came the ba­sis of the Bell 205A1, with the max­i­mum weight in­creased by an ad­di­tional 1000lb (453.6kg). Like the 204, the 205 also had a bag­gage com­part­ment in the tail boom, giv­ing the A-1 model a to­tal in­ter­nal

load ca­pac­ity of 248cu ft (7cu m) in this and the en­larged cabin, the in­creased en­gine power al­low­ing a 5000lb (2268kg) un­der­slung load to be car­ried as an al­ter­na­tive. With the cabin fit­ted to op­er­ate as an air am­bu­lance, the 205 could carry up to six stretch­ers and two med­i­cal staff in ad­di­tion to the two pi­lots. Th­ese ca­pa­bil­i­ties made the 205 ex­tremely adapt­able as well as cost ef­fec­tive and at­tracted an even greater mar­ket than the ear­lier 204. Af­ter FAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion was granted on Oc­to­ber 25, 1968, 332 Model 205A-1s were built at Fort Worth be­tween 1968 and 1980. Like the Model 204B, th­ese were sup­plied to both mil­i­tary and civil cus­tomers as well as be­ing pro­duced un­der li­cence in Italy, Ja­pan and Tai­wan. There was one ad­di­tional ver­sion of the he­li­copter pro­duced by Bell, the Model 205A-1A, iden­ti­cal to the 205A-1, but with the in­clu­sion of fuse­lage strength­en­ing for weapons mounts and a mil­i­tary avion­ics suite. Ten of th­ese, con­struc­tor’s num­bers 30068 to 30077, were pro­duced specif­i­cally for the Is­raeli De­fence Force Air Force for use as both troop trans­ports and gun­ships, sev­eral later be­ing sold to the Brazil­ian Air Force. The Model 205 was de­vel­oped still fur­ther dur­ing the late 1980s to pro­duce the Bell 205B, fit­ted with the Ly­coming T53-L-17A of 1500hp and achiev­ing FAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion on De­cem­ber 6, 1989. A num­ber of fea­tures from the twin en­gined Bell Model 212 were used, in­clud­ing the more ta­pered nose of the later model, the im­proved drive shaft and main and tail ro­tor blades. Th­ese changes im­proved the max­i­mum weight per­for­mance to 10,500lb (4763kg) but in the end only five were built, four of th­ese up­graded from 205A-1s, as at the time the mar­ket was filled with ex-mil­i­tary Hueys of prac­ti­cally ev­ery ver­sion built in the wake of the down­siz­ing of the US mil­i­tary. A kit was of­fered to ex­ist­ing cus­tomers that al­lowed the en­gine and ro­tors of the Model 205B to be fit­ted to 205A-1s as an up­grade, af­ter which the he­li­copters were known as the Model 205A+. Both the civil and mil­i­tary ver­sions of the Huey proved ex­tremely re­li­able, giv­ing long ser­vice in roles as di­verse as po­lice op­er­a­tions and fight­ing for­est fires. Their con­tin­u­ing pop­u­lar­ity meant that the con­cept of the Bell 205B was res­ur­rected in the early 2000s with the Model 210. This was aimed at pro­vid­ing the US Army with a so­lu­tion to its Light Util­ity He­li­copter re­quire­ments and re­plac­ing the age­ing fleets of Hueys around the world with an ex­tremely cost ef­fec­tive al­ter­na­tive to an all new type of he­li­copter. The Model 210 pro­gramme took ex­ist­ing stocks of UH-1H fuse­lages, re­fur­bish­ing them to as new con­di­tion and rewiring them com­pletely. Like the 205B, th­ese fuse­lages were then mod­i­fied with the more ta­pered nose of the Bell 212, along with that model’s main and tail ro­tor blades. In ad­di­tion, the 212’s main ro­tor hub, main and tail ro­tor sup­port struc­tures, trans­mis­sion, con­trol sys­tems and en­tire tail boom were added to the re­fur­bished fuse­lage. Pow­er­ing the 210 was the 1800hp T-53517B ver­sion of the orig­i­nal en­gine, now pro­duced by Honey­well which had ac­quired the tur­bine en­gine di­vi­sion of Ly­coming from Al­lied Sig­nal in 1999. The pro­to­type Bell 210 made its first flight on De­cem­ber 18, 2004, achiev­ing its FAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in July the fol­low­ing year. Like the orig­i­nal Model 205B, this was only to be built in small num­bers, as the mar­ket for the air­craft was still glut­ted with ex-mil­i­tary Hueys, as well as with newer and more fuel ef­fi­cient types of he­li­copters. He­li­copter tech­nol­ogy was de­vel­op­ing and the ad­vances were be­gin­ning to leave the orig­i­nal Huey sin­gle en­gined con­cept be­hind, but this was to be far from the end for the de­sign.

Chris­tian Jilg

Proof of the longevity and re­li­a­bil­ity of Bell’s Huey. A pris­tine ex­am­ple of an early Bell 204B, OE-XBT, (c/n 2053) of Heli Aus­tria, seen in the Aus­trian moun­tains on Fe­bru­ary 25, 2009.

Delta He­li­copters PAF

A Bell 204B, C-GJLV, of Delta He­li­copters of Al­berta Canada, be­ing fit­ted with an un­der­slung load of fuel drums. A Bell 205A-1 of Heliquest seen with an un­der­slung load in New Mex­ico in June 2004. Note the pi­lot is us­ing the ex­tended cock­pit door win­dow for a clear view of the load and the area be­neath the air­craft, a fea­ture fit­ted to many civil Hueys. Bell 205A-1s were also sup­plied as a mil­i­tary util­ity he­li­copter to a wide va­ri­ety of cus­tomers such as the Pak­istan Air Force.

One of the Bell 205A-1s that was up­graded to be­come a Bell 205B, N205VC, c/n 30066. Orig­i­nally built in 1969, the air­craft was ac­quired by the Ven­tura County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment in De­cem­ber 1998.

Bell He­li­copters

The cock­pit of the vastly up­graded Bell Model 210.

Brian Lock­ett

Char­lie Mauzé

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