The Goodyear Zeppelin – coming to a sky near you
Goodyear comments that Goodyear and blimps go together like America and apple pie, and this association will most likely continue even though the tyre maker’s next airships will be built using technology sourced from the USA’s old lighter-than-air rival: A new agreement with German zeppelin manufacturer ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik will see Goodyear supplied with airships well into the next decade.
“The Goodyear blimp is one of the most recognisable brand icons in the world. An event isn’t considered truly special unless the Goodyear blimp is there to provide aerial coverage,” said Richard J. Kramer, Goodyear chairman, chief executive officer and president. “I am pleased this investment will insure that future generations will have the opportunity to experience the joy of seeing the Goodyear blimp grace the skies.”
Over the years Goodyear has built and operated more than 300 airships – including two large rigid airships, the U.S.S. Macon and U.S.S. Akron. “Our current airships are approaching the end of their lifecycle, and we saw this as an opportunity to take the next evolutionary step in our airship programme,” said Nancy Jandrokovic, Goodyear’s director of Global Airship Operations. “Throughout the history of blimps, Goodyear has been an innovative leader. With Goodyear and Zeppelin working together again, we believe a new standard is about to set.”
The Zeppelin LZ N07 – 101 model airships will be built by Zeppelin and Goodyear airship teams at Goodyear’s Wingfoot Lake Airship Hangar near Akron, Ohio. Construction on the first airship is scheduled to start in 2013 and it is expected to take to the skies the following year. The new Goodyear-Zeppelin airships will be slightly larger than those in Goodyear’s current fleet and fly faster, carry more passengers. Navigation will be aided by include state-of-the art avionics and flight control systems. According to ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, the cost of the each airship and technical support it requires will be approximately US$21 million.
“We are extremely pleased to renew the Zeppelin connection with the famous Goodyear blimp programme,” said Thomas Brandt, Chief Executive Officer of ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH & Co. KG. “Goodyear and Zeppelin worked together almost 90 years ago to bring rigid airship technology to America and we’re thrilled to be working together again.”
Goodyear currently operates three airships in North America – the Spirit of Goodyear, the Spirit of Innovation and the Spirit of America. The company also has leased blimp operations in Europe and China.