Bell developed the LongRanger to offer a light helicopter with greater capacity and utility over the JetRanger.
Bell announced it was developing a stretched JetRanger in September 1973, the subsequent Model 206L flew for the first time on September 11 1974, and production began in early 1975. The LongRanger seats a further two passengers compared to the JetRanger, and introduced a more powerful engine and NodaMatic transmission suspension system for greater passenger comfort.
Subsequent versions have been the 206L1 LongRanger II, introduced in 1978, the 206L3 LongRanger III, and the current 206L4 LongRanger IV, introduced in 1992. Each subsequent version features increasingly more powerful engines and other minor improvements. LongRanger production, along with the JetRanger, was transferred to Mirabel in Canada in 1986.
The LongRanger has found favour not only as a corporate transport, but with police and medical services worldwide, its extra cabin size providing a very useful increase in utility. Bell currently offers a twin engined LongRanger, the TwinRanger, while a US company offers the twin engine Gemini ST conversion of the LongRanger. It also forms the basis of the 407.