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20/Twenty: Bell 222, The First U.S. Commercial Twin

Credit: Nigel Prevett/Aviation Week

Certified by the FAA in December 1979 and introduced to the market in 1980, the Bell 222 is distinguished as the first U.S.-built light twinturbine
commercial helicopter. Rotary-wing operators or enthusiasts eyeing a pre-owned 222 will find a limited market of less than 60
remaining aircraft.

Characterized by a two-blade, semi-rigid main rotor reminiscent of Bell’s Cobra attack helicopter, a retractable, tricycle undercarriage and
stylish, sharklike contours, the 222 seats one or two pilots and up to six passengers in executive configuration and eight passengers in the
utility role. Stable in flight, it became the first helicopter certified for single-pilot IFR operations without an autopilot or stability augmentation.
Its first customer was offshore oil operator Petroleum Helicopters Inc.

There were 188 Bell 222-series helicopters manufactured from 1980 to 1991, of which 59 remain in service and 129 have been retired, says Jason
Kmiecik, president of helicopter appraisal firm HeliValue$.

“Since most of the Bell 222 aircraft have been retired, there are limited numbers still operating today,” says Kmiecik. “The 222 was once the goto
machine for EMS operations as well as VIP transport. Today, the market for this aircraft is very small. Of the 59 still in operation, only 19 of
them are in the U.S. and the majority of the remaining 40 are operating out of South Africa.”

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