Tire and rubber product manufacturer Goodyear has announced that it plans to retire its iconic Goodyear blimps over the coming years.
In their place the company plans to build bigger and more advanced airships which can no longer be considered a traditional blimp.
Rather, Goodyear plans to build an airship with a more rigid structure similar to classic ‘zeppelin’ designs.
In the current blimp craft, the structural integrity of the airship was provided by gas pressure, however the new design will feature an internal structure, meaning it won’t lose its shape when deflated.
As well, the new craft will be significantly larger than its predecessors, measuring in at 246 feet (75m), 50 feet (15.2m) longer than the current models.
”It’s a brand new design. It is a much larger airship. It’s a semi-rigid dirigible,” Goodyear’s Priscilla Tasker told Associated Press.
Goodyear also plans to update the cockpit systems of its aging blimps.
“The most impressive features are the glass cockpit that is all fly-by-wire, the most state-of-the-art avionics in airships today,” Tasker said.
Despite these design changes, the new aircraft are very aesthetically similar to the current Goodyear blimps, and continue to prominently feature the company’s distinctive blue and yellow branding.
The first craft implementing this new design, Wingfoot One, was built Goodyear in conjunction with Germany’s ZLT Zeppelin, and began test flights in 2014.
“This airship will offer enhanced aerial television coverage capabilities, increased flight range to cover more events and an unparalleled passenger experience,” said Paul Fitzhenry, senior vice president, global communications in a press release.
Currently Goodyear operates 2 older blimps in addition to the Wingfoot One, both of which will eventually be replaced by an as-yet unspecified number of these updated craft.
Goodyear has been operating its fleet of blimps for almost a century. Its first blimp, the Pilgrim, was launched in 1925 and has been followed by a number of new craft with updated designs.
The company’s blimps have become famous due to their presence hovering over many major sporting events around the world, where they are often used to film events from above.