The Bell Helicopter "Huey" medium-lift line proved a huge military and commercial success for the company when it was introduced in 1959 and ultimately proven through combat actions in the Vietnam War (1955-1975). A slew of offshoots then emerged, each owing much to the original brilliant design, and these were taken into service across many public and private sectors including VIP transport, firefighting, Search And Rescue (SAR) and law enforcement. In 1972, another version of the successful rotary-wing product emerged as the Bell Model 214 ("Huey Plus") and, this too, was intended to fulfill the lucrative medium-lift utility role. A first flight was recorded in 1972 and production spanned from 1970 until 1981.
Like other Bell Helicopter variants, the Bell 214 held origins in the Model 205 which was itself a larger, more powerful, form of the Model 204. These were single-engine models with twin-bladed main rotors and tail rotors. The Model 214, however, was flown for the first time with the Lycoming T53-L-702 engine rated at 1,900 horsepower and the production-minded Model 214A switched to the Lycoming LTC4B-8 engine of 2,930 horsepower.
The Model 214A was showcased to the nation of Iran for its army service (to serve as the "Isfahan") and an order for 287 was placed with plans for local production on the part of the Iranians. A fleet of Model 214A/C helicopters (C-models were outfitted for SAR work) was delivered but the Iranian Revolution of 1979 terminated the Iranian local license production aspect of the deal.
The Model 214A featured a crew of one or two seated side-by-side with a capability to shuttle fourteen passengers or six patient litters (or cargo if properly configured). Overall length of the aircraft reached 48 feet with a rotor diameter of 50 feet and a height of 12.9 feet. Empty weight was 7,600lb against an MTOW of 15,000lb with power coming from the Lycoming LTC4B-8D turboshaft engine (2,930 horsepower). Performance included a cruise speed of 162 miles per hour, a range out to 255 miles and a service ceiling up to 16,400 feet.
Bell continued to actively market their Model 214 and revealed the Model 214B "BigLifter" of 1976 based on the Model 214A for civilian sectors. The aircraft came equipped with the Lycoming T5508D of 2,930 horsepower and intended for heavier-duty hauling service. Seventy were built to this standard. The Model 214B-1 was based in the Model 214B but restricted to a 12,500 gross weight.
The Model 214 did not prove as popular as other Bell Helicopter entries for, beyond the Iranian military, it only found homes in the Army of Ecuador and in the air forces of Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Fewer than thirty are thought to be active today (2017).