A group comprising four steelmakers and 13 shipbuilding companies began a series of test takeoffs and landings Wednesday at a floating airport they built in Tokyo Bay.

The companies, including Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd., commenced testing off Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, to confirm whether the 1,000-meter-long "megafloat" facility can safely function as a sea-based airport, they said.

The Technological Research Association of Mega-Float, which is advised by the Transport Ministry, began developing the facility in 1995. The floating platform was designed to serve as an airport and a disaster-prevention center but will be used for other purposes as well.

The float, completed last summer, was made by combining giant steel platforms into a structure measuring a maximum of 120 meters wide and 3 meters thick.

Promoters of the structure said it is easy to adjust the length and that it poses no harm to the environment.

The series of test takeoffs and landings will continue until October.