The Bell 407 is derived from the 206L3 Longranger and is a civil, light-weight, single-turbine helicopter. The 407 is intended to be the successor to the very popular 206 Longranger, and serves a similar utility market with segments in other areas such as corporate transport, air ambulance services, and offshore.
In January 1995, Bell announced the 407 program at the Heli-Expo. Certification took place in February 1996.
The 407 uses a four-bladed rotor head with composite blades, which were taken from the military 406 (OH-58D) design and has no life limits. Except for being a little wider, the fuselage is rather similar to the 206L. However, the tail boom is constructed entirely from carbon fibre composites.
Bell has sold more than a thousand 407s worldwide. Accordingly, including from a commercial perspective, it is a true replacement for the much appreciated 206L.
In 2006, Bell introduced the 417, which was a slightly improved 407. However, it did not sell, because of the lack of the differentiators that really mattered (in the main, only a few minor performance improvements were realised). Indeed, just one year later, Bell withdrew the model from the market.
Bell also developed a twin-engine variant, called the 427. This model was introduced in 2000, and its development took place in close cooperation with Samsung Aerospace Industries. Although more successful than the 417, Bell decided to cancel the program in 2008 in favour of the 429 as its new flagship model for the civil twin-engine market.