NT News: Albatross aircraft turning heads in Hollywood

A PLAN to build a seaplane in Darwin has caught the eye of Hollywood A-listers who are lining up to buy one of the retro-revival aircraft when they roll off the production line in 2026.

The Northern Territory government has partnered with Amphibian Aerospace Industries to manufacture an Albatross G-111T seaplane in Darwin – and the venture has caught the eye of Hollywood high-flyers.

It was recently announced Australian entrepreneur and TV personality Steve Baxter had signed a contract to buy the first Albatross to be manufactured at the Darwin production plant.

And the NT News understands a number of other A-listers, including stars Matt Damon, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, are looking at purchasing a G-111T when they begin production.

AAI would not respond to the rumours but the NT News understands Martian star Damon, Oscar winner Pitt and heart-throb Clooney head a long list of potential rich-list customers looking to invest in an Albatross.

Brad Pitt is understood to be buying one of the seaplanes. Picture: Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Brad Pitt is understood to be buying one of the seaplanes. Picture: Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

George Clooney is rumoured to be interested in an Albatross. Picture: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

George Clooney is rumoured to be interested in an Albatross. Picture: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Expected to sell for up to US$20m each for the most basic model, Australian businessman Khoa Hoang is heading the push to revive the Albatross, which were manufactured in the United States between 1947 and 1961.

Originally built for the United States navy, fewer than 500 seaplanes were manufactured by Grumman Aircraft Corporation and they remain in high demand due to their versatility.

At last week’s announcement, Shark Tank star Baxter spoke about the enormous appeal of the seaplane.

“It’s an amazing aircraft the Albatross G-111T and I’m really looking forward to getting in it and flying all around the world and going to get some great fishing spots,” Mr Baxter said.

“I couldn’t think of a better machine to do it in so let’s get into it and let’s get this thing built.

The Albatross G-111T aircraft being built in Darwin by Amphibian Aerospace Industries

The Albatross G-111T aircraft being built in Darwin by Amphibian Aerospace Industries

“What’s cool with a seaplane is you can travel around the world in it. There’s an enormous amount of destinations you can go to and it’s obviously not encumbered by strictly requiring a runway and anything else that goes along with it.

“What it opens up for me is really where do you want to go, strap the plane on and let’s just go somewhere.

“The fact you can go out and back 1000 miles out and 1000 miles back for 20 people and there’s no runway required is actually astounding.”

The Territory government has committed $10m through the Local Jobs fund to the project and Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said the seaplane will deliver a significant economic boost and hundreds of direct and indirect jobs to the Territory.

“This is an exciting story and the Northern Territory government is proud to be supporting AAI to see these planes built here in the Territory. It’s wonderful and it’s also a really important industry that we can grow in the Northern Territory.

“We see the long-term benefit to the Northern Territory and that is highly skilled jobs into the future and there’s estimates it could put $100m a year in the Northern Territory economy by the end of the decade.”

Mr Hoang secured a US Federal Aviation Administration ‘Type Certificate’ for the Albatross and currently two original Albatross engines are being repurposed in the United States for shipment to Darwin later this year.

Source: Camden Smith

Amphibian Aerospace Industries is the victor of Croc Pitch 2021, winning $1 million in venture capital from Paspalis Innovation Investment Fund. Read more about AAI here or learn more about Croc Pitch here.