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The History of the Zeppelin

Part Four: 1997 and Beyond

History: 1910-1917 1917-1929 1929-1940 1997-  
Airships: 1910-1914 1914-1918 1918-1940 1997-  

In the 1990s, the successor of the original Zeppelin company in Friedrichshafen, Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH, reengaged in airship construction. The first experimental craft (later christened Friedrichshafen) of the new Zeppelin NT-07 Class flew in September of 1997.

Zeppelin NT-07

Larger than blimps, the NT-07s are still the smallest airships Zeppelin has ever produced. They are not actually zeppelins in the classical sense, but rather are semi-rigid high-tech hybrid airships.

The shape of the outer envelope is maintained by both air pressure and an internal frame. This allows the ship to cruise at faster speeds than a standard blimp and also permits mounting points for the engines directly on the upper structure, closer to the ship's best thrust line.

Another innovation for Zeppelin are the vectorable props, including a dual-propellor engine mounted directly on the extreme aft of the ship allowing for precise attitude adjustment.

Main Engine of the NT-07 Class

The triple stabilizer (Y-fin) arrangement allows for better ground clearance than Zeppelin's traditional cruciform fins. This configuration also lessens the likelihood of crushing a fin in a handling mishap. The port and starboard props are tractor-type (pulling, not pushing), the same as Zeppelin's previous airship, LZ-130 Graf Zeppelin II.

Apart from the greater payload, their main advantages compared to blimps are higher speed and excellent maneuverability.

In January of 2001, Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei (DZR) was reestablished as a subsidiary company of ZLG. On 15 August 2001, they began successfully offering joyrides with Zeppelin NT-07 airships. Additionally, DZR has marketed the hull surface as advertising space.

Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin

In June 2004, a Zeppelin NT-07 was sold for the first time to a Japanese company, Nippon Airship Corporation, who will be using it for tourism and advertising mainly around Tokyo.

Type M Class, 1909 Length = 158m

NT-07 Class, 1997 Length = 75m

The Future

Zeppelin has commercial orders for a further seven NT-07s at a cost of approximately eight million euro each.

In addition, Zeppelin recently announced plans for a 19-seat NT-14 Class.

The NT-14 will measure 85 meters (280 ft.) in length, 16 meters (52 ft.) in diameter, and have a volume of 14,000 cubic metres (495,000 cu. feet). Development is to begin swiftly; Zeppelin expects to fly the prototype during the second half of 2007 and begin commercial operations in the fall of 2008.

A new Zeppelin company, Zeppelin Europe Tours (ZET) is seeking financing for development and production of a much larger (45-passenger) class of rigid airship.

History: 1910-1917 1917-1929 1929-1940 1997-  
Airships: 1910-1914 1914-1918 1918-1940 1997-  

Copyright ©2007 Puget Sound Airship Society

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