Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Report: Goodyear replacing fleet of blimps with zeppelins

Filed under: Etc., Technology

Say goodbye to the old fleet of Goodyear blimps and hello to the new fleet, which has started construction - only this time the "blimps" are actually zeppelins, or semi-rigid airships with framework (aluminum and carbon fiber in this case) to support their structure, engines and gas-filled envelop that generates lift. Goodyear, however, will still call them blimps.

Perhaps the allure of better technology has finally overcome the negative connotations associated with zeppelin airships since the fiery crash of the Hindenburg in 1937. In fact, the company behind the development of Goodyear's new airships is ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, the same company that built the Hindenburg. A key difference between then and now is that zeppelins no longer use hydrogen for lift but non-flammable helium instead - the same gas used in Goodyear's current fleet of non-rigid airships.

Why the change from blimp to zeppelin? Well, for a variety of reasons, including golf. (Stay with me here!) Zeppelins are quieter, faster and have better maneuverability than blimps, and ZLT's design uses three engines, which can be vectored to make the airships hover, a valuable technique that the current two-engine blimps can't perform. Film crews at sporting events can appreciate this to help them set up the perfect aerial shot, but so can a professional golfer, who can't have a blimp flying around and casting distracting shadows during play. Because of this, expect to see the new Goodyear "blimps" in more places than the old ones.

Goodyear's fleet of three blimps is based out of Akron, Ohio; Carson, Calif.; and Pompano Beach, Fla.; and the company will gradually update it with the new airships. The first zeppelin is being built in Akron now, and Florida will probably get it later this year, CNET reports, followed by California in 2016 and Ohio in 2018, at which point all three blimps will be grounded. Scroll down below for a press release from Goodyear.

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Goodyear replacing fleet of blimps with zeppelins originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 17 Jul 2013 08:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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