In 1979 Bell Helicopter certified the Model 222 helicopter to target the corporate market. Although it had a sleek corporate look, the helicopter struggled to find acceptance in the business world. This was due to reliability problems with the Lycoming LTS 101 engines and the two-blade rotor design that could not achieve an acceptable level of smoothness.
As a result, Bell began working on a new helicopter that would use advanced technologies to improve the engines, rotor system, and cockpit. In 1994, with the new design not quite ready, Bell introduced the model 230 with the more powerful Allison 250-C30 engines and numerous small refinements as an interim fix for many of the 222’s problems.
Finally, in early 1996, Bell certified its next generation helicopter, the model 430, and stopped production of the 230. The Bell 430 has a bearingless four-blade composite rotor system combined with Liquid Inertia Vibration Eliminators (LIVE) mounts on the transmission that give it a smooth ride. The engines were upgraded to the more powerful FADEC controlled Allison 250-C40B and a glass cockpit was available. The airframe was stretched 18 inches making for a larger cabin and the gross weight went from 8400 lbs. to 9300 lbs. One of my favorite features is the pilot’s side (right seat) collective control that moves forward and aft in a horizontal arc instead of up and down. To me it felt more natural.
Although, a little underpowered Bell did a good job with this helicopter, it was smooth, stable and fun to fly and had gained acceptance with corporate and EMS operators. Unfortunately, in January 2008 after building 136 helicopters, Bell announced they are stopping production of the 430 citing that it is optimizing its commercial product line to better serve its customer base and accelerate deliveries of its high-demand aircraft.