Goodyear Unveils Airship

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Goodyear floated out its new zeppelin last Friday (photo gallery) and says the airship will be faster and more efficient to operate. But despite all the modern advances, old habits die hard and for marketing purposes the company will continue to refer (incorrectly) to the aircraft as the Goodyear Blimp. The new aerial billboard has a rigid internal structure where the old blimps were aerodynamically shaped gas balloons. Goodyear also stuck with its time-honored retro look for the paint scheme of the aircraft, which was designed by ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, of Germany. It was built at Goodyear's big hangar near Akron, Ohio. It's Goodyear's first new LTA design in 45 years and there's a long list of improvements.

Glass panel, joystick controls and fly-by-wire pivoting modern engines (Lycoming IO-360s) aside, the airship is Goodyear's first with an onboard bathroom. Airliner style seating and accommodations for television camera crews round out the interior appointments. The zeppelin boasts better performance than the old blimps (40- vs. 30-knot cruise) and that 25 percent leap will enable the icon to visit more events, according to Goodyear. The new airship will be based in Ohio and will share duties with old-style blimps in California and Florida until those too are replaced.