With the Bell 230, Bell Helicopter finally addressed the most glaring shortcoming of the Bell 222—the engine. The Bell 230 is a Bell 222B/UT with Rolls-Royce 250-C30G2 engines in place of the Lycoming LTS101 engines. In addition, the Bell 230 incorporates an increase in takeoff gross weight. The 230 is available either with the retractable landing gear of the Bell 222B, or the fixed skid gear and increased fuel of the Bell 222UT.
The Bell 222 had its genesis in the early 1970s when it became clear that there was a demand for a medium twin-engine turbine helicopter for the offshore and corporate market. Bell, among others, launched a series of design studies that resulted in a decision to launch the Bell 222 in 1974. The subsequent design represented many firsts for Bell. It was Bell's first helicopter designed from scratch for the civilian market; it was not based on any military design; it had a retractable, wheeled landing gear; its rotor system design was the first to depart from the teetering rotor developed in the 1940s by Art Young; and it used a newly developed engine, the Lycoming LTS 101. On paper this was a great engine, with a high power-to-weight ratio and modest fuel consumption. Unfortunately, even in the upgraded form used on the Bell 222B, it proved to be less reliable than the customers expected and this was one of several factors, including a serious recession in the helicopter industry, which severely limited the market potential for this helicopter.
The Bell 230 uses the same two-bladed rotor attached to the hub with elastomeric bearings for the flapping, lagging and pitch change motions as the Bell 222B and 222UT. The main transmission uses the “nodamatic” suspension system to reduce vibration levels. The engines used on the Bell 230 are the Rolls-Royce 250-C30G2, which are somewhat more powerful than the previously used Honeywell LTS 101-750C1. A two-bladed tail rotor provides directional control. The cabin provides two compartments and was not changed from the cabin of the 222A oR222B. The pilot compartment seats two and the passenger cabin seats up to eight. The fuselage is made of conventional aluminum alloys. The passenger cabin is available in three basic configurations. One is a corporate interior with two comfortable seats facing aft and a three-place bench facing forward. The second, the utility configuration, has three forward-facing seats rows (two with three seats and one with two seats). The third configuration is for EMS operators. This configuration puts two stretchers, two medical attendants and medical gear in the cabin. Single and dual pilot IFR certification was available as an option.
Development of the Bell 230 was initiated around 1990 and certification to the standards of FAR 29 was obtained in 1992, as was IFR and Category A certification. Approximately 40 Bell 230s were produced during this aircraft’s production run from 1992 to 1995.