Zeppelin NT

The Zeppelin NT is a 75.1 m (246 ft) long semi-rigid airship inflated with helium. NT stands for Neue Technologie, or “New Technology” in English.

The ship made its first flight on September 18, 1997, and when configured for sightseeing and tourism it can accommodate up to 12-14 passengers and two pilots.

Zeppelin NT (photo: ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH)

Zeppelin NT (photo: ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH)

Passenger cabin of Zeppelin NT (photo: ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH)

Passenger cabin of Zeppelin NT (photo: ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH)

Structure and Framework

The semi-rigid Zeppelin NT is built around a framework of high-strength, lightweight carbon-fiber and aluminum.

Zeppelin NT Structure

Zeppelin NT Structure (image: ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH)

The framework consists of 12 vertical triangular carbon-fiber crossbeams, connected to three longitudinal girders of welded aluminum, with aramid cables bracing the structure and giving it additional rigidity.

All the ship’s major components – cabin, engines, and tail assembly — are mounted on the rigid structure to provide safe and stable flight performance, and also a quiet and comfortable ride for the passengers.

The author holding lightweight carbon-fiber section with two fingers.

The author holding lightweight carbon-fiber section with two fingers.

The Zeppelin NT is longer than a Boeing 747 airliner but its primary structure weighs only about 1,000 kg (2,200 lbs).

Zeppelin NT Size Comparison

Zeppelin NT Size Comparison

Lifting Gas and Envelope

Zeppelin NT’s basic variant (N07-100) has an envelope volume of 8,450 cubic meters (298,409 cubic feet) according to its European Aviation Safety Agency Type Certificate. The envelope itself is a high-strength multilayer laminate.

Similar to a blimp, the Zeppelin NT uses ballonets of air to maintain a constant interior pressure and a taut envelope at all flight altitudes.

Engines and Propellers

The Zeppelin NT is driven by three gasoline-powered, 4-cylinder, 197 hp Textron-Lycoming IO-360-C1G6 piston engines. The Lycoming IO-360 has proven its reliability in decades of use in small aircraft.

The ship’s three engines power four propellers; three vectored thrust (swiveling) Hoffmann 2.7 m three-bladed propellers, and one lateral thrust Hoffmann 2.2 m three-bladed propeller.

Swiveling side propellers of Zeppelin NT.  (photo: ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH)

Side propellers of Zeppelin NT. (photo: ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH)

Aft propellers of Zeppelin NT.  (photo: ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH)

Aft propellers of Zeppelin NT. (photo: ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH)

The aft engine drives a pushing propeller that can be turned 90° downward if needed, and a steering propeller that can directed from side-to-side to function like the bow thruster of a ship. The two side propellers generally provide forward thrust but can swivel through 120 degrees.

The ship’s vectored thrust propellers allow the Zeppelin NT to perform vertical take-offs, stable hovering, and even backward flight.

The ship has a maximum speed of about 125 km/h or 78 mph (VNE is 130 km/h) but usually cruises at about half that speed when used for sightseeing and tourism.

The author, Dan Grossman, on the flight deck of Zeppelin NT

The author, Dan Grossman, on the flight deck of Zeppelin NT

Specifications

Maiden flight: September 18, 1997
Engines: Lycoming IO-360 with 147 kW/197 hp each
Length: 75 m (246 ft)
Max. width: 19.5 m (64 ft)
Height: 19.4 m (64 ft)
Envelope volume:
N07-100
N07-101
8,450 m³ (298,409 cu ft)
8,425 m³ (297,526 cu ft)
Payload: 2,350 kg (5,181 lbs)
Max. speed: 125 km/h (78 mph)
Max. flight altitude: 3,048 m (10,000 ft)
Max. endurance: Approx. 24 hours
Range: 900 km (486 NM)

Source: European Aviation Safety Agency Type Certificate EASA.AS.001 and ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik

The New Goodyear Airship

In 2011 Goodyear announced that it would be replacing its fleet of advertising blimps with Zeppelin NT airships and the first new Goodyear zeppelin flew in 2014.

The Goodyear ship is a slightly modified variant known as LZ  N07-101.

The new Goodyear airship. (photo: Goodyear)

The new Goodyear airship. (photo: Goodyear)

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

omar February 8, 2014 at 6:14 am

كل مفى المنطاد قابل تغيروتحويل وتطوير واستعمل فى غير اسياحة مثلا فى نقل غير البشر ادا كانت تهموكم الفكر استفسار عنها

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Antony December 30, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I went on an NT flight in Friedrichshafen in 2006. Sitting on the bench seat at the back of the gondola and being able to see the shadow of the Zeppelin on the ground below and being able to open the window was unreal. When we reached the end of the Bodensee (Lake Constance), the NT turned like a top, due the pilot told me, because of the propeller at the end of the ship, which makes for fantastic manoeuvrability. It was an amazing experience. A boyhood dream come true.

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rickfaust April 5, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Think you should add to the list all the new airships, the now and the future of airships, like the onemaned ones up to the NT Zeppelins, maybe the nuts with the lawn chair and a bunch of balloons…. Rick

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Dan April 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm

I’ve been meaning to do that for a while! I just need more free time. :-)

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Prashas March 21, 2013 at 2:48 pm

can any please, clearly give me an idea where can be the Gondola is placed, I mean at what position from the CG location & also How the surface area of fins calculated along with Rudder and elevator too.

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rick faust December 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Just read that the Airship is closing down, what will happen to the airship ???

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Davidius August 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Hey there Dan, this is a really great website. The Zeppelin NT actually has 2 engines that can vector 120 degrees up (the side engines) and the aft engine vectors down 90 degrees. Great website, been coming to this site for a long time to check out airship history!

- Dave

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RS April 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Would it be possible to build an airship(lighter than air) that could transport 100 people at a time go up to 200 mph and go up to 20,000 ft in altitude by changing the airships’ shape, using light weight materials (carbon, aluminum,titanium), providing wings, small jet engines, and computerized guidance systems?

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BRad M June 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm

It takes 300,000 cubic feet of helium to carry 10 people. To carry 100, you would need a ship so massive it would be an engineering feat to keep it together in one piece. Seriously doubt it could go 200mph. 20,000 feet might be possible but you would need pressurized cabin (i.e. even more weight).

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Mike K September 11, 2012 at 7:04 am

RS, carrying 100 people would be no problem, as there were airships built in the 1930′s that could carry that load halfway around the world. You wouldn’t have to change the shape to go fast, (1930′s airships could go faster than 80 mph) but you would need more power and a stronger structure than was available in the 1930′s. With the new materials, twice the strength for half the weight is possible. In addition, engines are more fuel efficient and lighter. So while I’m not sure you could get to 200, you could go faster than 80 mph. 20,000 feet is tough. you would have to (probably) trade range for altitude capability. Really, no one knows until someone does it. Good Luck.

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Stu August 31, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Actually it was done many years ago by the USS Akron (ZRS-4) which carried over 200 persons aloft setting a (then) world’s record not soon to be matched. The Akron however did not go 200 mph, just about 75. High altitudes in airships are tricky. As you rise, the air pressure decreases and the gas cells expand outwards. To compensate, you only fill your gas cells half way anticipating a high flight and more altitude. Problem was then that you cut your effective lift in half as well. That’s why the Hindenburg rarely flew over 5000 feet and generally as a rule, kept below 1000 feet when cruising.

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200kt October 6, 2014 at 2:34 am

That’s an excellent question, and an a since de-classified US document from the 1960s hints that this is possible.

I think hybrid, heavier-than air airships hold greater promise, and are much more feasible.

As an example, take the Zeppelin NT. Take a look at the picture of the Zeppelin NT on the ground on this site. It is at an airport with lots of space around it. A hybrid airship could use a runway of a small airport, and take off at a steep 45 degree angle, it does not have to be VTOL – STOL will do. Actually STOL aircraft maybe easier to land, and handle cross winds.

If you look at the fuselage of a 747 or a larger cargo aircraft, you will see that the volume of the fuselage would be able to contain sufficient helium to generate the required lift. And these fuselages travel at 400kt through the air.

If you can allow for around 40 kt take-off speed, and a strong enough structure to carry jet engines, this might just work. This is the personal (paper) project I am working on at the moment, but I am beginning to think it could be done.

I would advise you to do a feasibility study for yourself and see.

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that guy April 23, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Hey I just suddenly got re-interested in airships about two hours ago (after several years of not-so-intensive admiration for airships) and I have this question I havent been able to answer by myself or using the internet. I am familiar with the fact, that modern airships use helium or hot air just to make them super-light while engines do the rest of the job. So here comes the question: Are there any modern airships, that would use engine(s) powered by solar panels attached to the semi-rigid construction. And would it even be possible to generate enough electricity on an airship comparable in size and wight to the Zeppelin NT?

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Hendrick Stoops December 4, 2011 at 1:28 pm

It’s a neat concept, but you’d need all rigid framework to hold them up, the only other problem is possibly weight (I don’t know how much they weigh so it might not be a problem) but that could be very ecenomic with something in the style of the old WW1 height climbers, which could fly above large cloud cover. Not really ascociated, but a picture of the R101 looks like it has solar panels on top! (of course just the style of outer covering but still, maybe a premonition:))…

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Bastien Lefrançois March 12, 2012 at 5:40 am

Hello people,
I just discovered your blog and especially this thread and message. Actually this idea is not new : papers can be found on this subject back in the 80′s. Very few RC-solar powered blimps (1 or 2 as far as I know) have been flying since the early 90′s, and the first manned, solar-powered blimp has flown next to Paris, France in 2009 and 2010, operated by students team Projet Sol’R.
Since then we are making a few improvements in the structures of the airship, but hopefully our blimp will fly again this year !
I’m sorry to contradict you Hendrick, but we are all inflatable, no rigid structure at all : the inner pressure is sufficient to hold the panels on the envelope. Moreover we have flexible cells -however that can be discussed, mainly for reasons of efficiency.
That comes with many interesting challenges our project is here to take up !
I’d be very glad to tell more on this system, I cannot doubt many of you would be interested and could have interesting ideas to bring !

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mark March 16, 2012 at 10:18 pm

they now have a water based paint that can do just that collect solar in all shades of light you can paint a roof with it attach wires and voila energy.
professor at university of melbourne

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BRad M June 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm

It would be necessary to have extremely light weight solar panels to drive the motors. It would be also make the airship prohibitively expensive.

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Murph March 11, 2011 at 11:39 am

Is the graphic something that was used for promotional purposes only, or is this zeppelin owned by Disney?

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Dan (Airships.net) March 12, 2011 at 9:32 am

The images and logos carried by Eureka are paid advertising; the ship is owned by Airship Ventures.

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daniel baldwin January 23, 2011 at 11:53 pm

How is the NT14 coming along?? (19 passenger) Is this project still a go??

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Harold E Stewart April 11, 2010 at 8:29 am

I have long been interested in Lighter than air vehicles. Though this is actually a heavier than air craft it is winderful to see them back in the air and carrying passengers. Well Done!!

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Kevin Olson July 31, 2010 at 12:50 pm

I don’t understand your comment about this being a heavier-than-air craft. It’s not. It’s a semi-rigid airship filled with helium, which provides the lift.

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Carl December 19, 2010 at 11:14 am

The Helium provides “only” 95% of the Lift. About 5% have to be given by arodynamical force. This fact makes sure, that the Zeppelin returns back.

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DK January 29, 2013 at 8:39 am

The Zeppelin NT is clearly a LTA aircraft. It is true that at take-off it has a positive weight (of usually some few hundread kilogramms). But with a fuel capacity of about 1100 liters (2500 with range extender) it becomes lighter during flight as fuel is consumed. In addition the temperature of the environment and lifting gas can change during flight (think of adiabatic effects during altitude changes!) making the ship heavier or lighter.
So, the 95/5 % lift-ratio is just a typical take-off condition and shifts during flight.

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Luis M. Moreno March 4, 2010 at 7:09 am

A very, very interesting Blog.

Greetings

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GAGIK January 22, 2010 at 10:20 am

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

ich bin aus der Republik Armenien. Ich habe an der Agraruniversität der Republik Armenien studiert und vom 2. April bis 31. Dezember 2008 habe ich Zeppelin Service Engineer qualification programme erfolgreich abgeschlossen. Ich beherrsche die Deutsche Sprache und träume von einer kurzfristigen Arbeit in Deutschland, was für meine Fortbildung sehr nützlich wäre. Wenn es möglich ist, könnten Sie mir bitte schreiben, ob ich bei Ihnen arbeiten darf.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Gagik Nahapetyan (27 Jahre alt)

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