Zeppelin NT

The Zeppelin NT is a 75.1 m (246 ft) 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.

The famed Goodyear Blimps are now being replaced with Zeppelin NT airships.

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.

Airships.net author Dan Grossman 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

Airships.net author Dan Grossman on the flight deck of Zeppelin NT

Zeppelin NT Dimensions and Performance

  • Crew: 1-2 pilots (certified for single pilot operation)
  • Passengers: 15
  • Envelope volume (N07-101):  8,425 m³ (297,526 cu ft)
  • Envelope volume (N07-100):  8,450 m³ (298,409 cu ft)
  • Length: 75 m (246 ft)
  • Maximum Width: 19.5 m (64 ft)
  • Maximum Envelope Width: 46.45 ft.
  • Overall Height: 19.4 m (64 ft)
  • Maximum weight: 19,780 lb
  • Engines:  3 Textron-Lycoming IO-360-C1G6 (197 hp) 4-cylinder gasoline piston engines
  • Propellers:  3 vectored thrust Hoffmann 2.7 m three-bladed; 1 lateral thrust Hoffmann 2.2 m three-bladed
  • Fuel capacity: 306 gal. (5 tanks), right 49 gal. (48 gal. usable), left 44 gal. (43 gal. usable), reserve 49 gal. (48 gal. usable), 2 external auxiliary 82 gal. each (80 gal. usable).
  • Maximum speed: 125 km/h (78 mph)
  • Endurance: 24 hours
  • Static Lift: 2,940 pounds
  • Maximum Dynamic Lift: 1,102 pounds (500 kg)
  • Maximum static heaviness, take-off/landing: 400 kg
  • Maximum static heaviness, inflight: 500 kg
  • Maximum static lightness : -200 kg
  • Payload: 2,350 kg (5,181 lbs)
  • Max. flight altitude: 10,000′ (3,048 m)

       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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