The original development of the Model 214 was announced by Bell in 1970 under the name "Huey Plus". The first prototype was based on a Bell 205 airframe equipped with a Lycoming T53-L-702 engine of 1,900 shp.
The first 214A demonstration prototype followed and was evaluated in Iran during field exercises with the Iranian Armed Forces. The trial was judged successful and an order for 287 214A helicopters followed. The intention was that these aircraft would be constructed by Bell in their Dallas-Fort Worth facility and that a further 50 214As and 350 Bell 214ST helicopters would then be built in Iran. In the event 296 214A models and 39 214C models were delivered, before the Iranian Revolution ended the plans for Iranian production.
Similar in size and appearance to the Bell 205 and Bell 212, the Bell 214 uses a single, more powerful Lycoming LTC4B-8 engine (2,930 shp / 2,185 kW) and upgraded rotor system giving it a high lifting capacity and good performance at high temperatures and high altitudes. It can be identified by the single large exhaust duct and wide chord rotor blades without stabilizer bars.
Bell offered the Bell 214B "BigLifter" for civil use. It received certification in 1976. The 214B was produced until 1981. Powered by a 2,930 shp (2,183 kW) Lycoming T5508D turboshaft, it has the same rotor drive and transmission system as the 214A. The transmission is rated at 2,050 shp (1,528 kW) for take-off, with a maximum continuous power rating of 1,850 shp (1,379 kW). The BigLifter features advanced rotor hub with elastomeric bearings; an automatic flight control system with stability augmentation; and commercial avionics.
As of January 2012, 29 Bell 214s were in military service, including 25 Bell 214As with Iran, and three 214Bs with United Arab Emirates.
Approximately 41 Bell 214Bs are in commercial service. User countries are Australia (6), Canada (10), Norway (2), Singapore (3) and United States (15).
Bell 214 Huey Plus - The prototype 214 flew in 1970. Powered by one Lycoming T53-L-702 turboshaft (1,900 shp/1,415 kW).
Bell 214A/C Isfahan - The 299 Bell 214As for the Imperial Iranian Army Aviation were built beginning in 1972, followed by 39 Bell 214Cs with a hoist and other search and rescue equipment for the Imperial Iranian Air Force.
Bell 214B BigLifter - Civil version of the 214A. 70 built.
Bell 214B-1 - This version of the Bell Model 214B is limited to a maximum 12,500 lb (5,670 kg) gross weight with an internal load due to different certification standards. The external load is the same as the 214B. The only difference between the 214B and 214B-1 is the dataplate, and flight manual.