In 1976, Bell/Textron brought the 214B, nicknamed ‘Big Lifter’, to market. The 214B featured an advanced rotor hub with elastomeric bearings and an automatic flight control system with stability augmentation – groundbreaking technology at the time. At the end of the ‘Big Lifter’s’ production run in 1981, the 214ST entered the market. This aircraft, nicknamed ‘Super Transporter’, was the largest helicopter Bell had produced yet. The 214ST came with major design improvements: twin engines, and boasted a stretched fuselage with seating for 16- 18 passengers, and production of the 214ST continued through 1993.
OEMs traditionally strain to balance support of aging low-density fleets with key priorities of innovation and new platform development. Bell struggled to offer adequate aftermarket support after three decades of service tenure and sought a creative solution.
Looking after a legacy platform
Bell remained committed to providing an aftermarket solution for their product line and explored sustainment solutions.
Erickson was uniquely qualified to offer a solution with 50 years of past performance in legacy support. Prior Type Certificate acquisitions with Sikorsky and Pratt and Whitney affirmed confidence with Bell that Erickson was the right partner. Bell/Textron executed a license agreement in 2015 that placed aftermarket support for the 214 platform with Erickson. Five years later, in August 2020, Erickson acquired the 214ST and 214 B/B1 Type Certificates. This is a remarkable opportunity for Erickson to revitalize a legacy platform with an exceptional mission portfolio. Erickson’s tenure as an operator affects our approach to legacy sustainment with a keen emphasis on reduced DMC’s. This approach is intentionally unconventional. By offering group discounts and pooling participation, all 214 operators can benefit from direct economies of scale. Erickson looks forward to improving speed to market and innovating a proven platform to secure viability long into the future.
Three decades on
The 214B/ST continue to operate today, well beyond their original intended service life. The remaining fleet experiences the challenge of sourcing cost-effective support for aging technology. At least 28 years have passed since manufacturing these aircraft, and original suppliers go out of business and parts become obsolete. Owning the Type Certificate provides an opportunity for Erickson to update the antiquated design and modernize the platform. Erickson’s OEM and operational history compliments the 214 Type Certificate, and our research and development division is engaged in several key initiatives that will ensure the 214B & ST are a preferred solution for their critical missions.