Top End lands aircraft manufacturing deal

Albatross seaplanes were manufactured in the US between 1947 and 1961.
Albatross seaplanes were manufactured in the US between 1947 and 1961.

The Northern Territory is set to join the global aircraft manufacturing industry as a military classic is revived for the modern export market.

An updated version of the Albatross G-111 - an amphibious plane that can take off and touch down on land, snow, ice and water - will be built in Darwin.

"This is a big deal for the Territory and for Australia," Chief Minister Michael Gunner said on Wednesday.

"We will be building amphibious aircraft that will be exported to the rest of the world by the end of the decade."

Albatross seaplanes were manufactured in the US between 1947 and 1961.

Originally built for military use, the battle-proven aircraft went on to be used widely around the world for search and rescue, coastal surveillance, law enforcement, medical evacuations, humanitarian aid and cargo transport.

The HU-16 was a twin-radial engined version extensively used by the US military in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

It was designed to land and take off in four foot ocean swells and was often called a "flying boat".

The G-111 was a civilian version of the of the Albatross that can carry up to 28 passengers.

Amphibian Aircraft Holdings will manufacture a modernised version of the plane at Darwin Airport using a Canadian Pratt & Whitney turboprop engine - the G-111T.

The NT government will contribute $10 million to the project.

It's forecast to create about 300 jobs when the company reaches full production, with annual revenue of more than $100 million.

The NT government says the Albatross has a proven track record and there was evidence of strong demand for it to fill an identified gap in the global aviation market.

Amphibian Aircraft Holdings plans to have the modified aircraft CASA-certified within 18 months, with production commencing by 2025.

Chairman Khoa Hoang says the company is Australia's first US FAA transport category aircraft manufacturer.

"Nothing of this scale has come to Australia," he said.

He said the Albatross had a monopoly in its class as the only FAA transport category amphibious aircraft capable of carrying 28 passengers.

"We are confident that this formidable aircraft will be relevant for many decades to come," Mr Hoang said.

About 90 per cent of sales inquiries are currently from overseas.

Australian Associated Press