Bell 206 is a family of two-bladed, single- or twin-engined
helicopters, manufactured by
Bell Helicopter at its Mirabel, Quebec
plant. Originally developed as the
Bell YOH-4 for the United States
Army's Light Observation
Helicopter program, it was not selected by
the Army. Bell redesigned the airframe and successfully marketed the
aircraft commercially as the five-place Bell 206A JetRanger. The new
design was eventually selected by the Army as the OH-58 Kiowa. Bell
also developed a seven-place LongRanger, which was later offered with
a twin-engined option as the TwinRanger, while Tridair Helicopters
offers a similar conversion of the LongRanger called the Gemini ST.
The ICAO-assigned model designation "B06" is used on flight plans for
the JetRanger and LongRanger, and the designation "B06T" is used for
the twin-engined TwinRangers.
1.1 Origins and JetRanger
1.3 Gemini ST and TwinRanger
2 Operational history
4.1 Military and government
4.2 Former operators
5 Specifications (206B-L4)
6 Notable appearances in media
7 See also
9 External links
Origins and JetRanger
YOH-4A LOH in flight
On October 14, 1960, the
United States Navy
United States Navy solicited response from 25
aircraft manufacturers to a request for proposals (RFP) on behalf of
the Army for the Light Observation
Helicopter (LOH). Bell entered the
competition along with 12 other manufacturers, including Hiller
Aircraft and Hughes Tool Co., Aircraft Division. Bell submitted the
D-250 design, which would be designated as the YHO-4. On May 19,
1961, Bell and Hiller were announced as winners of the design
Bell developed the D-250 design into the
Bell 206 aircraft,
redesignated as YOH-4A in 1962, and produced five prototype aircraft
for the Army's test and evaluation phase. The first prototype flew on
December 8, 1962. The YOH-4A also became known as the Ugly Duckling
in comparison to the other contending aircraft. Following a flyoff
of the Bell, Hughes and Fairchild-Hiller prototypes, the Hughes OH-6
was selected in May 1965.
When the YOH-4A was eliminated by the Army, Bell went about solving
the problem of marketing the aircraft. In addition to the image
problem, the helicopter lacked cargo space and only provided cramped
quarters for the planned three passengers. The solution was a
redesigned fuselage, sleeker and aesthetically appealing, adding
16 ft3 (0.45 m3) of cargo space in the process. A Bell
executive contributed to this redesign by drawing on a sketch two
lines extending the fuselage to where it meets the tail. The
redesign was designated Bell 206A, and Bell President Edwin J. Ducayet
named it the JetRanger, denoting an evolution from the popular Model
The 206L LongRanger is a stretched variant with seating for seven. The
fuselage, stretched a total of 30 inches (760 mm), adds two
rear-facing seats between the front and rear seats. Since 1975, Bell
has produced more than 1,700 LongRangers across all variant types. In
1981, a military version was released, the 206L TexasRanger. The
original 206L used an Allison 250-C20B engine, and a series of model
upgrades replaced this engine with more powerful versions; the 206L-1
used a 250-C28, and the 206L-3 and 206L-4 used the 250-C30P. In both
applications, the 250-C30P is derated from 650 hp for takeoff and
501 hp continuous. The 206L-3 is transmission-limited to
435 hp for take-off, and the 206L-4 is transmission-limited to
495 hp. The derating of the C30P produces an advantage in hot-day
and high-altitude operations as it can produce the rated horsepower at
higher altitudes and temperatures where applications that use the
maximum rating of the engine at sea level suffer accelerated
performance deterioration with increases in temperature and altitude.
The 206L-3 and L-4 have not been offered in a twin configuration under
those model designations.
In 2007, Bell announced an upgrade program for the 206L-1 and 206L-3
which is designed to modify the aircraft to the 206L-4 configuration;
modified aircraft are designated 206L-1+ and 206L-3+. Modifications
include strengthened airframe structural components (including a new
tailboom), improved transmission, upgraded engine for the L-1, all of
which result in a maximum gross weight increase of 300 pounds and
On January 24, 2008,
Bell Helicopter announced plans to end production
of the Bell 206B-3 version after current order commitments were
fulfilled in 2010. In 2011, used 206B-3s sold for around $1.4
million depending upon the equipment and configuration. However,
production of the 206L-4 is ongoing as of 2018.
Gemini ST and TwinRanger
The TwinRanger name dates from the mid-1980s when Bell developed the
Bell 400 TwinRanger, but it never entered production.
In 1989, Tridair Helicopters began developing a twin-engine conversion
of the LongRanger, the Gemini ST. The prototype's first flight was on
January 16, 1991, while full FAA certification was awarded in
November. Certification covers the conversion of LongRanger 206L-1s,
L-3s and L-4s to Gemini ST configuration. In mid-1994 the Gemini
ST was certificated as the first Single/Twin aircraft, allowing it to
operate either as a single or twin engine aircraft throughout all
phases of flight.
The Bell 206LT TwinRanger was a new-build production model equivalent
to Tridair's Gemini ST, and was based on the 206L-4. Thirteen 206LTs
were built, the first being delivered in January 1994, and the last in
1997. The TwinRanger was replaced in Bell's lineup by the mostly-new
Bell 427, whereas Bell intends for the
Bell 505 Jet Ranger X
Bell 505 Jet Ranger X to
replace the 206 single-engine versions from around 2015 and compete
with the Robinson R66.
Bell 206L-4 Long Ranger IV (operated by CTV British Columbia),
departing Vancouver Harbour helipad
The first Bell 206A flew on January 10, 1966, and the aircraft was
revealed later that month at the
Helicopter Association of America
(HAA) convention. On October 20, 1966, the JetRanger received FAA
certification. Delivery of the JetRanger to customers began on January
13, 1967, with the first aircraft being purchased by Harry Holly, CEO
of the Hollymatic Corporation and previous owner of a Bell Ranger.
In 1968, the
United States Navy
United States Navy selected the 206A as its primary
trainer, the TH-57 Sea Ranger. The Army also eventually selected the
206A for a light observation helicopter as the OH-58 Kiowa.
The basic shape and design of the JetRanger remained unchanged since
1967, but Bell introduced the 206B JetRanger II in 1971. In 1977, the
206B-3 JetRanger III was introduced with its modified tail rotor and
more powerful engine. The JetRanger is popular with news media for
traffic and news reporting. The LongRanger is commonly used as an air
ambulance and as a corporate transport. On September 1, 1982, pilots
H. Ross Perot, Jr.
H. Ross Perot, Jr. and Jay Coburn departed
Dallas, Texas in the
"Spirit of Texas", a Bell 206L-2 (N3911Z). They returned on 30
September, 29 days and 3 hours later, completing the first
around-the-world helicopter flight, making them Earthrounders.
In 1983, Australian Businessman Dick Smith became the first helicopter
pilot to complete a solo trip around the world in 260 flight hours.
During the trip, he landed his 206B-3 (S/N 3653; VH-DIK) on
prepositioned container ships to refuel between
Japan and the Aleutian
In 1993, the U.S. Army chose the Bell 206B-3 as the winner of the New
Helicopter competition, to serve as its primary training
helicopter, the TH-67 Creek. The number of TH-67s being divested by
the Army is too small to impact civilian markets.
On July 22, 1994, Ron Bower landed his 206B-3 (N206AJ) at Hurst,
Texas, setting a new record for around-the-world flight by a
helicopter. Bower had departed on June 24 and returned 24 days, 4
hours, 36 minutes and 24 seconds later, averaging 35.62 knots
(40.99 mph, 65.97 km/h). Bower had added a 91-gallon
auxiliary fuel tank, which doubled the JetRanger III's range.
In September 1995 in southwestern Washington State, a low-flying
LongRanger was downed by a metal arrow launched by an irate deer
hunter. The arrow pierced a rotor blade, bending the blade. The arrow
shaft tore the tailfin and boom as it was being chopped up by the
spinning rotor. The helicopter was still flyable, but the pilot made a
precautionary landing to assess the damage.
On 20 August 2014, Guatemala's Chief of Army Staff was killed when his
Bell 206 crashed.
Bell 206B Jet Ranger III at Filton Airfield, Bristol, England. Used
for electricity pylon patrols.
Five (5) YOH-4A prototypes, for flight evaluation in the Army's LOH
Initial production version, powered by an Allison 250-C18 turboshaft
engine. FAA-certified in 1966. Selected as the OH-58A Kiowa in 1968.
License-built in Italy.
OH-58A aircraft that are modified for FAA civil certification.
License-built in Italy.
Upgraded Allison 250-C20 engine.
License-built in Italy.
Bell 206B models upgraded with Bell 206B-3 improvements.
Bell 206B JetRanger tail end
Upgraded Allison 250-C20J engine and added 2 inches (51 mm) to
tail rotor diameter for yaw control.
Bell 206L LongRanger
Stretched, seven-seat configuration, powered by an Allison 250-C20B
Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II
Higher-powered version, powered by an Allison 250-C28 turboshaft
Bell 206L-1+ LongRanger
Bell modifications, including 250-C30P engine, to upgrade aircraft to
Bell 206L-3 LongRanger III
Powered by an Allison 250-C30P turboshaft engine.
A Bell 206L-3
Bell 206L-3+ LongRanger
Bell modifications to upgrade aircraft to 206L-4 configuration.
Bell 206L-4 LongRanger IV
Improved version, 250-C30P engine and transmission upgrade.
Bell 206LT TwinRanger
Twin-engined conversions and new-builds of the 206L; replaced by the
based on the 206L with four-blade rotor system.
upgraded 407 with larger engine; project canceled.
HESA Shahed 278
An Iranian re-hash of
Bell 206 components.
Aurora Flight Sciences
Aurora Flight Sciences Tactical Autonomous Aerial Logistics System
Export version for the Chilean Navy.
Bell CH-139 JetRanger
Canadian military designation for the Bell 206B-3.
Swedish Army designation for the Agusta-Bell 206A. 21 units
manufactured in Italy, used as training, liaison, light transport,
scout and anti-tank helicopters armed with ATGMs.
Swedish Navy designation for the Agusta-Bell 206A. 10 units
manufactured in Italy, used as anti-submarine helicopters, armed with
depth charges. This variant was equipped with emergency inflatable
Light observation helicopter that replaced the OH-6A Cayuse.
TH-57A Sea Ranger
40 commercial Bell 206A aircraft purchased as the primary U.S. Navy
helicopter trainer in January 1968 for training prospective U.S. Navy,
U.S. Marine Corps,
U.S. Coast Guard and select NATO/Allied helicopter
US Navy TH-57C
proposed export military version. One demonstrator was built (1981).
45 commercial Bell 206B-3 helicopters purchased by the US Navy in 1989
as replacements for the TH-57A for primary training under visual
71 commercial Bell 206B-3 helicopters purchased by the US Navy
beginning prior to 1985 with cockpits configured for advanced training
under instrument flight rules.
Planned upgrade program to convert US Navy TH-57B and TH-57C aircraft
to a single standard digital cockpit. This program never
materialized in operational aircraft.
137 commercial Bell 206B-3s purchased in 1993 as the primary and
instrument helicopter trainer for the US Army at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
35 in VFR configuration and 102 in IFR configuration. The US Army
currently has 181 units, of which 121 are in VFR configuration and 60
are in IFR configuration. All TH-67s display US registrations ("N"
numbers) and are operated as public use aircraft.
Bell 206 has been popular for all types of uses both commercial
Military and government
Bulgarian Air Force
Bulgarian Air Force Bell 206
Albanian Air Force
Argentine Army Aviation
Queensland Police Service
Bangladesh Air Force
Brazilian Air Force
Bulgarian Air Force
Chilean Air Force
Colombian Air Force
National Police of Colombia
Croatian Air Force
Ecuadorian Air Force
Finnish Border Guard
Guatemalan Air Force
Guyana Defence Force
Italian Army Agusta-Bell 206
Islamic Republic of
Iran Air Force
Islamic Republic of
Iraqi Air Force
Israeli Air Force
Jamaica Defence Force
Japan Coast Guard
Latvian State Border Guard (being phased out)
Lesotho Defence Force
Macedonian Air Force
Macedonian police (as of 2005)[verification needed]
Mexican Air Force
Royal Moroccan Air Force
Pakistan Coast Guards Air Wing
Serbian Ministry of the Interior
Slovenian Air Force and Air Defence
Slovenian Law enforcement
Sri Lanka Air Force
Republic of China (Taiwan)
Republic of China Army
Royal Thai Army
Royal Thai Police
Ugandan Air Force
A TH-67A Creek of the US Army
San Juan County, New
Mexico Sheriff's Office
Los Angeles Police Department
Alabama Department of Public Safety
Omaha Police Department
Omaha Police Department 
United States Army
United States Navy
Yemeni Air Force
Royal Australian Navy
A Canadian Air Force CH-139 JetRanger
Jamaica Defence Force
Armed Forces of Malta
Swedish Air Force
Data from Bell 206B-L4 specifications
Crew: one pilot
Capacity: four passengers
Length: 39 ft 8 in (12.11 m)
Rotor diameter: 33 ft 4 in (10.16 m)
Height: 9 ft 4 in (2.83 m)
Disc area: 872 ft² (81.1 m²)
Empty weight: 2,331 lb (1,057 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 3,200 lb (1,451 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Allison 250-C30P turboshaft, 420 shp; derated to 317
shp due to drivetrain limitations (310 kW)
Never exceed speed: 130 knots (241 km/h, 150 mph)
Maximum speed: 120 knots (222 km/h, 138 mph)
Range: 374 nmi (430 mi, 693 km)
Service ceiling: 13,500 ft (4,115 m)
Rate of climb: 1,350 ft/min (6.9 m/s)
Disc loading: 4 lb/ft² (177 N/m²)
Power/mass: 0.26 hp/lb (430 W/kg)
Notable appearances in media
Main article: Aircraft in fiction § Bell 206
Bell 505 Jet Ranger X
Bell OH-58 Kiowa
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Eurocopter AS350 Ecureuil
MD Helicopters MD 500
List of military aircraft of the United States
List of most-produced rotorcraft
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bell 206.
Bell Model 206L-4 page on Bell's site
Bell Model 206 GlobalSecurity.org
TH-57 military version at GlobalSecurity.org
Aircraft produced by
Bell Aircraft and Bell Helicopter
United States helicopter designations, Army/Air Force and Tri-Service
Numerical sequence used by USAAC/USAAF/USAF 1941–present; US Army
1948–1956 and 1962–present; US Navy 1962–present
Prefix R-, 1941–1948
Prefix H-, 1948–1962
Main joint sequence
H-73 to H-891
reusing old numbers
1 Not assigned
Canadian Forces post-1968 unified aircraft designations