The Bell helicopter aircraft family is extensive. If you go back to the beginning, in 1960, it was not a given that Bell would manufacture the helicopter the military needed. It all started with the United States Navy when they wanted a lighter helicopter. A total of 12 other manufacturers were considered for the task. Originally the design started as the D-250 but came to be the Bell 206. Five prototype helicopters were made and tested by the military. The prototype flew on December 8, 1962. Other prototypes were made, and Bell ended up losing the design competition, and the 206 was christened, “The Ugly Duckling.”
This did not discourage Bell. They fixed original problems with the helicopter, and the Bell 206A was born. Eventually, the military changed their mind and used the helicopter for service.
The Official Beginning of the Bell 206A JetRanger
Out of all of this, the Bell 206A JetRanger emerged; its first flight was on January 10, 1966. Later the same month the helicopter made an appearance at the Helicopter Association of America (HAA) convention. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officially approved of the helicopter on October 20, 1966, and it was certified.
The Bell 206A is a fairly small helicopter, but do not let that fool you on its capabilities. The helicopter is 12 meters long, which equates to roughly 39.3 feet. Its rotors’ diameter is approximately 33 feet. The helicopter is made for relatively smaller journeys and is capable of operating for about three hours. It fits a pilot and four crew members.
Uses of the Bell 206A JetRanger
While the Bell 206A was originally intended for military uses and observational missions during the Korean War, it has found more uses today. Its lightweight frame makes it ideal for conducting surveys, helping police efforts, and even news reporting. It is also a great helicopter for transportation services, such as helicopter business charters.
The Bell 206A JetRanger is worth between $920,000 to $1.2 million for each helicopter. Around 8,460 of these helicopters were built. The Bell 206A JetRanger was so successful it had a production run for 44 years, and production stopped on the helicopter in 2010. It is the third most-produced helicopter in the world. The top helicopter produced was Mil-Mi-8 with over 17,000 helicopters and the Bell UH-1 Iroquois with 11,582.
The Bell 206A JetRanger was primarily made at Bell plants in the United States and Canada, but a few of the helicopters were manufactured in Italy and Australia.
Similar Models in the Bell Family
The Bell 206A JetRanger’s cousin is the LongRanger which is designed with a few extra feet and can fit up to six people and the pilot. Various other helicopter models have been built, including several variations of the LongRanger and other 206 varieties.