Goodyear has floated more than 300 editions of the unique aircraft over the past 85 years, including two large rigid models – 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 program,” says Nancy Jandrokovic, 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 be set,” she says.
The Zeppelin LZ N07-101 models will be built at Goodyear’s Wingfoot Lake Airship Hangar near Akron, Ohio.
Construction on the first airship is scheduled to start in 2013 and begin flying in 2014.
“We are extremely pleased to renew the Zeppelin connection with the famous Goodyear blimp program,” says Thomas Brandt, CEO of ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH & Co. KG.
“Goodyear and Zeppelin worked together almost 90 years ago to bring rigid airship technology to America,” he points out, “and we’re thrilled to be working together again.”
The rigid crafts will be slightly larger than the blimps in Goodyear’s current fleet, being able to fly faster and carry more passengers while including state-of-the art avionics and flight control systems.
They cost about $21 million each.
“The Goodyear blimp is one of the most recognizable brand icons in the world. An event isn’t considered truly special unless the Goodyear blimp is there to provide aerial coverage,” says Richard J. Kramer, the tire maker’s chairman, CEO and president.
“I am pleased this investment will ensure that future generations will have the opportunity to experience the joy of seeing the Goodyear blimp grace the skies,” he adds.
Goodyear currently operates three airships in North America – the Spirit of Goodyear in Akron; the Spirit of Innovation in Pompano Beach, Fla.; and the Spirit of America in Carson, Calif. The company also has leased blimp operations in Europe and China.
For more information, visit www.goodyear.com.