In the 1950s, Bell Helicopter developed a turbine-engine powered utility tactical transport helicopter for the U.S. Army. This single-engine helicopter, known as the UH-1B or “Huey,” proved to be very popular with the U.S. Army and was quickly stretched to give a bigger cabin. This stretched version became known as the UH-1D in the Army and as the Bell 205 in the civilian world. In 1970, a more powerful version of this aircraft was announced. The primary goal of the improvements was to provide better hot and high performance. Improvements included a larger, more powerful engine, an increase in both the chord and the diameter of the main rotor, an increase in the size of the tail rotor, an upgraded transmission based on the Cobra and various system improvements. The cabin size was not changed, although the overall length of the helicopter was increased to accommodate the larger diameter main and tail rotors. Two versions were developed. The first, Bell 214A, was developed for the Iranian Armed Forces, while the second, the Bell 214B, was developed for the commercial market.
The Bell 214B is a medium single-engine turbine helicopter. It has a two-bladed teetering rotor derived from the rotor developed for the Bell 205. The current main rotor blades are made of fiberglass and were the first U.S.-made composite blades to win FAA certification in 1978. The engine used for this helicopter is a Honeywell (formerly Lycoming) T5508D. A two-bladed tail rotor provides directional control. The fuselage is made of conventional aluminum alloys and is mounted on a fixed skid gear. The cabin features two pilot seats up front and behind them is the passenger or cargo cabin. It has a flat floor and two very large sliding doors provide ready access to every part of the cabin. When used for passenger transport, it can seat up to 14. When used for cargo, it can carry up to 6,000 pounds internally and up to 8,000 pounds externally.
Development of the commercial version was started in 1973 and FAA VFR certification was obtained in 1976. The Bell 214B was in production from 1976 to 1981. During this time, approximately 70 were manufactured.