Photo by Ryan Haidet, WKYC-TV.
AKRON -- Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has begun construction of the first of a new generation of airships to replace its fleet of world famous blimps.
The new Zeppelin LZ N07-101 airship, manufactured by Germany's ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, will be assembled at Goodyear's Wingfoot Lake Hangar.
Photos: Goodyear begins building massive airship
An agreement with ZLT Zeppelin to supply Goodyear with the new airships was announced in May 2011.
Construction of the new airship will take about 6-7 months, including the structural build and the installation of advanced on-board avionics and flight control systems.
Certification of the new airship and training of flight personnel will follow during the first half of 2014.
The new airship will be larger, faster and more maneuverable than the current generation of blimps and capable of carrying more passengers.
It will be 264 feet long and weigh approximately 20,000 pounds.
Goodyear has built and operated more than 300 lighter-than-air vehicles since 1917, including two large rigid airships -- the U.S.S. Macon and U.S.S. Akron.
Goodyear is one of the world's largest tire companies. It employs about 69,000 people and manufactures its products in 52 facilities in 22 countries around the world.
Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry
"The start of this construction project marks the beginning of a new era for the Goodyear blimp, one of the world's most recognizable brand icons," said Nancy Ray, Goodyear's director of Global Airship Operations.
"With this investment, we are renewing Goodyear's commitment to our airship program and our continued leadership role in providing aerial coverage and support to the most watched news, sports and entertainment events around the world."