Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), is readying to hand over its first competitively won contract of the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), the Dhruv. HAL won an order for 7 helicopters from Ecuador beating out global heavyweights like Eurocopter, on performance and and a price of just $7 million per helicopter.
Five shiny new Dhruvs (The Pole Star in Sanskrit) with the insignia of the Ecuadorian Air Force, stand ready at HAL in Bangalore, ahead of schedule.
With Colombia and Chile evaluating the Dhruv, and carefully watching HAL’s performance of the Ecuador contract, HAL, is leaving no stone unturned to ensure both a speedy delivery and on-going maintainability so that Ecuador has no problems with its Dhruv fleet.
Instead of disassembling the helicopters, HAL is learning from the Indian Air Force Sarang display team, and sending the aircraft via an Antonov AN124. Also, a specially selected team of ten HAL engineers is being posted in Ecuador for the two-year period when the Dhruvs will be under warranty. During these two years, the HAL engineers will train the Ecuadorian Air Force to maintain its Dhruvs.
The Ecuador Air Force chief will receive five Dhruvs at a high-profile media event at Aero India 2009. The remaining two will be handed over within six months.
The Dhruv assembly line in Bangalore is already busy, fulfilling orders from the Indian armed forces for 159 helicopters.