A true aviation icon is about to be reborn Down Under.
Australian outfit Amphibian Aerospace Industries (AAI) has decided to bring Grumman’s famous Albatross seaplane back to life for modern-day fliers.
First unveiled in 1947, the flying boat was used for search and rescue by the United States Air Force, the US Navy and the US Coast Guard before the model was eventually retired in 1995. Until now, that is. AAI is planning to launch a new and improved Albatross as soon as next year.
The company, which is based in Australia’s Northern Territory, received the foundation aircraft on Monday that it will turn into a fully fledged prototype. The plane in question is one of the G-111 models that Grumman launched in the ’80s. A cut above the standard military version, the G-111s had a number of fancy modifications (refined wings, additional doors and so on).
AAI’s riff, which is known as the G-111T, will be extensively modified for the 21st century. Most notably, it will feature high-tech digital avionics and turboprop engines from Pratt & Whitney. The team says it will have a wide range of applications, from passenger transport to search and rescue. The G-111T will be built from the ground up in AAI’s research and development center at Darwin Airport.
“The reality of manufacturing amphibious aircraft here in Darwin has really set in today, with the arrival of this historic G-111,” NT chief minister Natasha Fyles said in a statement. “This exciting venture will create hundreds of local jobs and upskilling opportunities for Territorians, while also injecting millions into our economy.”
The best part? AAI chairman Khoa Hoang says the team is already working on developing new variants, such as a zero-emissions Albatross and a longer, 44-seat model. The company also has another original aircraft en route to Darwin.
As for the newcomer’s debut, AAI claims the first fully restored Albatross will be flying before the end of 2023.