AKRON, Ohio (AP) — The next generation of the well-known Goodyear blimp is getting ready to take flight as the company moves toward replacing its old fleet of airships with a new trio.
The helium-filled airship, assembled at an Akron-area hangar and unveiled there Friday, is bigger, quicker and more maneuverable than earlier models, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said.
The 246-foot airship fits 12 passengers and has a semi-rigid internal skeleton, a feature that wasn't present in earlier models and raises questions about whether it is truly a blimp, though the company still refers to it as such. The structure is covered by a silver, balloon-like body emblazoned with Goodyear's yellow logo on a blue background.
It can travel at up to 73 mph and has custom computer-controlled avionics, an upgrade from the manual flight system used by the blimp pilots since the 1920s, the company said. It plans to build two more.
A spokesman wouldn't specify the cost of the new airship, which is expected to provide a longer flight range and better aerial broadcast capabilities for event coverage.
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