NT News: Amphibian Aerospace Industries’ Albatross G-111 finds berth at Darwin Airport

The Albatross project has a home almost a year after the Paspalis Innovation Investment Fund (PIIF) invested $1m and the Northern Territory Government committed $10m to revive the aircraft.

The Albatross G-111 seaplane has a new hangar to call home and an office for staff located at Darwin Innovation Hub in the heart of Darwin CBD. Investors in the marquee Northern Territory project have secured the old Care Flight hangar at Darwin Airport – adjacent to the terminal – to house the aircraft while it is restored to its former glory. Amphibian Aerospace Industries (AAI) has secured a 10-year lease at the site.

AAI wants to re-launch the Albatross G-111 in Darwin as the Albatross G-111T, with its piston power replaced by a turbo-prop.

The Albatross G-111 was a US Navy-designed aircraft manufactured in the United States between 1949 and 1961.

Sydney businessman Khoa Hoang is pursuing a dream to reinvent the Albatross with modern digital avionics. It will be powered by a Pratt and Whitney engine.

The NT Government last year backed the project with a $10m grant from the Local Jobs Fund and PIIF invested $1m into AAI as the winner for Croc Pitch 2021.

Albatross Darwin

Albatross G-111T in its hangar at Avalon Airport before its departure to Darwin

“This is another step towards getting the Albatross back in the skies and us manufacturing the aircraft in Darwin,” Mr Hoang.

“This will be a significant project for Darwin and the Northern Territory and deliver spin-offs for the entire Northern Territory economy.”

AAI chief executive Dan Webster said the next few months would see the project achieve development milestones.

The first of these will be the delivery of an Albatross aircraft to the new Darwin hangar on the back of semi-trailers. The convoy is due to leave Avalon airport next Monday and be in Darwin by the end of the month.

The company is hoping to ship an Albatross aircraft from the United States to Darwin for restoration.

“We’ll restore a number of Albatross to ensure they’re airworthy and safe and then once they’re back in the air we will do the modifications,” he said.

The anticipated arrival of the Albatross in Darwin later this month represents a symbolic start to the project’s work in the Territory.

“All the engineering and mechanical work will now be done in Darwin,” he said.

“We’re finalising our operations in Victoria and all future work will be done in the Territory.”

A licensed aircraft engineer and an engineering manager have been recruited and will work out of the Darwin hangar.

Albatross Darwin

Albatross project boss Khoa Hoang with Amphibian Aerospace Industries chief executive Dan Webster at their new hangar at Darwin Airport

Transporting the Albatross by road to Darwin will be a spectacle as well as significant logistical feat.

“At this stage we’ve got three road-trains but it might finish up being more,” Mr Webster said.

“We’ve got a few containers of equipment to transport as well as the plane parts. We’ve removed the wings but it’s the volume of the aircraft and its size rather than the weight.”

The new hangar door will require reconfiguring to allow the Albatross top tail to enter and engineers will be working over the next few weeks to make it fit.

“The next milestone for us is getting the aircraft out of Avalon to Darwin, get in the hangar and secure it for Christmas. Restoration should take about 12 months and the modifications will begin after restoration.

“We’re hoping to do the two things in parallel.”

Meanwhile, the company is looking to secure investors.

Earlier this year, Shark Tank celebrity Steve Baxter became the first person to buy an Aussie Albatross and interest has also been expressed by Hollywood A-listers Brad Pitt and George Clooney.

Mr Webster is travelling abroad next week for talks with potential buyers.

Source: Camden Smith (NT News) with some edits

About Paspalis Innovation Investment Fund

Paspalis is one of Australia’s leading private investment firms. Their business aligns its interests with those of their investors and partners for lasting impact in Australia’s North.