AKRON, Ohio – Goodyear and blimps. Two things that go together like America and apple pie.
And that long-standing tradition continues thanks to a new agreement with German zeppelin manufacturer ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik – to supply The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company with airships well into the next decade.
"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," said Richard J. Kramer, Goodyear chairman, chief executive officer 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."
During its long operational history, 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 program," 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 with 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 begin operating in 2014.
"We are extremely pleased to renew the Zeppelin connection with the famous Goodyear blimp program," 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."
The new Goodyear-Zeppelin airships will be slightly larger than the airships in Goodyear's current fleet, fly faster, carry more passengers and include state-of-the art avionics and flight control systems.
ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik said the airships and technical support cost about $21 million (U.S.) each.
For more than 85 years, the Goodyear blimps have appeared at the most watched news, entertainment and sporting events around the world. The blimps also heavily support local and national charities, and community emergency response programs.