November 16, 2000    

"Megafloat" Landing, Takeoff Drills Prove Successful

1km-long Megafloat runway built off Port of Yokosuka in Tokyo Bay

Successful aircraft landing and takeoff trials took place July 5 on the new "Megafloat" floating prototype airport off the port of Yokosoka in Tokyo Bay. The Megafloat measures 1km long and 60-120 meters wide. The successful tests marked a significant step forward in the effort to develop floating airports.

The Megafloat project has been undertaken by the Technological Research Association of Megafloat, comprising 17 shipbuilders and steel manufacturers, of which NKK serves as a leading member. The second-largest unit of the floating steel structure was constructed at NKK's Tsu and Tsurumi Works, and towed to Tokyo Bay to be joined through welding with other units on-site.

With the backing of the Ministry of Transport and the Japan Foundation, Phase I of the project was launched in 1995, and focused on the development of fundamental technologies for the construction of floating structures with long-term durability, various design programs, and environmental impact assessment techniques. Phase II of the project began in 1998 with the aim of testing the practical use of the floating airport.

In the summer of 1999, the association constructed the world's largest floating prototype airport, weighing 40,000 tons, proceeding to extensive low-pass tests using the Transport Ministry's YS-11 test aircraft. The tests verified that the instrument landing system installed on the floating runway operated in the same way as land-based airport systems.

In the July 5 drills, two small test aircraft, a German-made Dornier and a British-made Islander, repeatedly landed on and took off from the floating airport. The tests continued through late October and produced comprehensive data on the airport's safety, the capacity of the platform's mooring gear to withstand the shock of takeoffs and landings, and other technological aspects.

Once tests of the floating prototype airport have been completed, the model will be dismantled and removed by the end of March 2001. NKK will lead the dismantling/removal work on the sea. Future plans call for allowing interested municipal authorities to reuse the divided steel structures as emergency operation bases, leisure parks, floating piers and other installations.

Test aircraft Islander lands on Megafloat model runway on July 5s

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