85 Years of Bell: Platforms with a Purpose


It started with the renowned Bell 47 Model - the “Bubble” - becoming the first certified helicopter for civilian use. Ready to jump into the civil market, Larry Bell concocted a three-step approach to introduce helicopters to everyday civilians and businesses. Today at Bell, this three-step strategy to bring vertical lift to new audiences has not changed; it’s evolved.

The first step starts with building skilled pilots. Needing more people to operate these new vertical lift innovations, he and a team of several helicopter pilots began training pilots and mechanics to fly and sustain Bell aircraft. This legacy of developing dynamic aviators carries on today through our Bell Training Academy (BTA), the world’s premier rotorcraft school. Just like our leadership team’s early days, our instructors introduce the thrill of flight to burgeoning students and built a network of global pilots. Teaching world class aviators to perform autorotations and maintain helicopters requires more than just state-of-the-art facilities. It requires a team that can connect with the trainee and enrich their knowledge of flight.  

Along with equipping pilots with necessary skills, our Bell teams discovered new ways for helicopters to fill major gaps in business operations. Today, Bell’s portfolio of commercial aircraft are used to survey surrounding areas for glaciers in Canada, conduct power-line operations in New Zealand, take beautiful flights over Northern Vietnam, help passengers skip traffic in Jakarta, Indonesia, rescue stranded hikers on the west coast cliffs of Sonoma County and so much more. These feats that happen every day start with a critical need and a purpose-built platform that not only can get the job done, it can get it done seamlessly and efficiently.

Bell’s final approach to engage new customers included demonstrations, because why would we tell someone about the power of commercial helicopters when we can show them. Today, this excitement of demonstrating Bell innovation has evolved into experience. How can we build a unique experience that serves a wide range of needs? Demonstration flights with the customers are thrilling, but how do we take it to the next step? Well, by keeping relationships strong – even beyond the rotorcraft sale – and supporting customers with Customer Advantage Plans (CAP), key parts and service needs at their remote locations. Also, investing in future technology inside the aircraft, such as fly-by-wire systems, upgraded avionics suites and instrument flight rules (IFR) kits delivers unique features that our customers didn’t know they needed. Our Commercial Business teams are always thinking steps ahead into the future of rotorcraft. After all, this dedication to finding better solutions for our customers is why they continue to choose Bell.

“To succeed in these markets we have to make sure there are no surprises to the customer – we tell them exactly what we’re going to do and then we do it – and we had to have the best market support in the world,” said former Bell president, Jack Horner. “We continued to look for things that a helicopter could do – things that no one else could do. That’s the whole secret.”



About Bell

Thinking above and beyond is what we do. For more than 85 years, we’ve been reimagining the experience of flight – and where it can take us.

We are pioneers. We were the first to break the sound barrier and to certify a commercial helicopter. We were a part of NASA’s first lunar mission and brought advanced tiltrotor systems to market. Today, we’re defining the future of advanced air mobility.

Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas – as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Textron Inc., – we have strategic locations around the globe. And with nearly one quarter of our workforce having served, helping our military achieve their missions is a passion of ours.

Above all, our breakthrough innovations deliver exceptional experiences to our customers. Efficiently. Reliably. And always, with safety at the forefront.


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