Bell delivers first Bell 505 helicopter to Ethiopia


Bell Textron has made the first delivery of its Bell 505 helicopter to a corporate customer based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The delivery to WA Oil Factory and Distribution – to facilitate travel between the company’s regional businesses – brings the number of Bell 505s operating in six African countries and the Middle East to nearly 30.

CEO of the new corporate owner Worku Aytenew said: “We are proud to accept the delivery of the first Bell 505 in Ethiopia. Given the rugged terrain and limited road infrastructure in parts of the country, the Bell 505 will save us hours and sometimes days of travel time.”

The Bell 505 was delivered to Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, which has an elevation of 7,625 feet above mean sea level. WA Oil pilot Gilbert Gitonga commented: “We’ve been operating the aircraft at 8,100 feet with no problem at all. The 505 has plenty of power and is operating extremely well.”

Bell’s regional sales manager, Africa and the Middle East, Lynette Loosen said the helicopter is well suited to operation in the country. “The Bell 505 is an exceptional aircraft for corporate transportation, exceeding customers’ expectations with a large, customizable cabin and fully integrated high-tech features,” said Loosen.

With a speed of 125 knots (232 kms per hour) and a useful load of 1,500 pounds (680kg), the Bell 505 is designed to be safe and easy to fly.

The aircraft was initially delivered to one of Bell’s independent representatives for Africa, Africair’s Bell Customer Service Facility (CSF) in Nairobi, Kenya. There it was re-assembled and hangered until its ferry flight to Addis Ababa.

Africair CEO Jim Evans said: “With this latest delivery, the Bell fleet in Africa continues to grow, building on its reputation for safety, reliability and cost-effectiveness. In particular, over recent years the Bell 505 has grown in popularity, with operators on the continent appreciating the flexibility and versatility of this light helicopter. We are looking forward to building this new relationship with WA Oil.”

Established in 2016 by Aytenew, WA Oil Factory and Distribution’s businesses include mining, real estate and transportation, as well as the W.A. Oil Factory project. This oilseed crushing and crude oil refining factory, located at Debremarkos in Amhara Regional State, East Gojjam Zone, imports and distributes $200m (Ethiopian birr 5bn) worth of palm oil.