First unveiled in October 1947, the Grumman HU-16 Albatross was used by the United States Air Force (USAF), the U.S. Navy (USN), and the U.S. Coast (USCG).
Designated as the HU-16 in 1962. The first versions flew with radial engines and later versions were retrofitted with turbo-props. The last military versions were retired in 1995 serving with the Hellenic Navy. Many civilian versions were still serving into the 1990s. Today, the aircraft is still around, albeit in limited numbers. Of the 345 aircraft built, around 30 are still flying today.
A new build Albatross with modern avionics and engines was first proposed in 2021. Amphibian Aerospace Industries, Pty Ltd (AAI) is an Australian company, established as the manufacturing and product development arm of the Australian owned Amphibian Aircraft group of companies. They are based in Australia’s Northern Territory. The new Albatross will be built from the ground up in AAI’s research and development centre at Darwin Airport.
The vision for AAI is to be a world leader in the development and production of amphibian aerospace capabilities, as they believe that demand for this type of aircraft is still high.
Amphibian aircraft fill a special niche in an increasingly populous world. Whether it is connecting communities on islands, rivers or lakes to major transport hubs, delivering people or important supplies to shipping, responding to emergencies at sea, or delivering aid following natural disasters where other infrastructure has been damaged, they provide useful capacity and speed at unmatched affordability.
AAI is the legal holder of U.S. Federal Aviation Administration “Type Certificate” for the HU-16 and G-
111 Albatross amphibious aircraft. As the Type Certificate holder for the Albatross family of aircraft, AAI are committed to providing ongoing product support and development in parallel with development of our twin turboprop variants which will soon be available to the market.
The new aircraft will be known as the G-111T. The prototype aircraft will be extensively modified for the 21st century. Most notably, it will feature high-tech digital avionics and turboprop engines from Pratt & Whitney. The aircraft will also feature modifications like refined wings, additional doors, improved streamlining and increased payload capability. AAI says it will have a wide range of applications, from passenger transport to Search and Rescue (SAR).
“The reality of manufacturing amphibious aircraft here in Darwin has really set in,” said Northern Territory chief minister Natasha Fyles in a statement. “This exciting venture will create hundreds of local jobs and up-skilling opportunities for Territorians, while also injecting millions into our economy.”
For the future, AAI chairman Khoa Hoang says the team is already working on developing new variants, such as a zero-emission Albatross and a bigger 44-seat passenger model.
AAI claims the first fully restored Albatross will be flying before the end of 2023. AAI expects full production to commence in 2025.
Maximum speed: 236 mph (380 km/h)
Cruise speed: 124 mph (200 km/h)
Stall speed: 74 mph (119 km/h)
Range: 2,850 mi (4,590 km, 2,480 n/miles)