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HAL rushes team to Ecuador to probe crash

October 30, 2009 21:36 IST

A day after Ecuador threatened to return the Indian-made Dhruv fleet, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited on Friday rushed a three-member team including its chief test pilot to Quito to investigate the air crash involving one of the seven helicopters.

Ecuador had also indicated that it would declare its USD 50 million (about Rs 2,346 million) contract for seven Dhruvs with HAL void, depending on the outcome of the probe into Tuesday's crash.

A team of HAL officials, who are at present based in Quito, have already joined the investigation into the crash that left two Ecuadorean Air Force pilots seriously injured. Following the crash, Ecuador chose to ground the remaining Dhruv fleet.

Incidentally, one of the seven helicopters is used by Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa. Ecuadorean Air Force commander Rodrigo Bohorquez had said after the crash that "if it is a major problem that can't be easily remedied, we would have to return" the Dhruv helicopters to India.

Ecuador's was the first export order won by HAL Dhruv last year and the helicopters were delivered in February this year, and if it chooses to return the fleet, it would be a major embarrassment for HAL, which hopes to sell more Dhruvs to South American countries in the near future.

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