With Ecuador unilaterally terminating its contractual agreement with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for Dhruv helicopters, ministry of external affairs has now stepped in to resolve the matter amicably.
Speaking to FE, a source on conditions of anonymity said: “HAL is getting ready to send a high-level team to Ecuador to resolve the issue and address the concerns of the Latin American customer after many meetings through diplomatic channels.”
While there have been hectic discussions through the diplomatic channels from the time the government of that country decided to cancel the contract with HAL, the possibility of reviving the chopper deal with that country now seems remote.
Responding to questions from FE related to these issues, the official spokesperson of HAL Gopal Sutar said: “We have no comments to offer on these questions as of now.”
Only a fortnight back, Ecuador had terminated the deal with HAL that supplied seven indigenously built Advanced Light Helicopters Dhruv that got grounded after reported mechanical failures.
Ecuador’s defence minister Fernando Cordero had announced termination of the contract with HAL notwithstanding his Indian counterpart’s claim that Dhruv helicopters were “safe”.
Even as HAL is yet to take Ecuador into confidence and resolve the contractual issues, Indian side received yet another blow as the Latin American company recovered about $51 million through insurance coverage offered by Indian insurance companies. Ecuador government intimated its decision to terminate the contract on October 11, leaving the HAL little room for any amends.
What has particularly made HAL position vulnerable is that it has surpassed the 5% fine provision provided in the contract. According to reports, last two accidents, which occurred on January 13 and 27 this year in the coastal province of Guayas and Napo (Ecuadorian Amazon), respectively, have been attributed to technical failures and not pilots’ errors.