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Aviation authorities grant approval for shipment of parts for final assembly of three Zeppelin NT in the USA
Tuesday, 17 July 2012

After extensive preparation work and a successful audit carried out by the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (German Civil Aviation Authority) on behalf of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH & Co KG has been granted approval to undertake manufacturing work in accordance with aviation guidelines at Wingfoot Lake in Suffield, Ohio. The audit evaluated material and inventory control processes and quality control.

In 2011, the tyre manufacturer Goodyear ordered three new Zeppelin NT of the type LZ N07-101 for its airship bases in Ohio, Florida and California. As part of this contract it was agreed that the final assembly of the zeppelins would be carried out in the specially adapted Goodyear airship hangar at Wingfoot Lake in Suffield, Ohio. As an approved production organisation for the Zeppelin NT (New Technology), ZLT shall principally be in charge of final assembly. The production site and processes must, however, comply with the specifications for an approved production organisation.

During a 5 day audit in May 2012, Robert Gritzbach, ZLT Chief Technical Officer, and Reinhard Klein, Technical Auditor with the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt, satisfied themselves of the suitability of the production facilities in Suffield. "In particular, we examined and inspected the material and inventory control processes, checked whether Goodyear can guarantee quality assurance for the entire logistic chain and how document management will be organised," Robert Gritzbach said. The impression won by the Zeppelin representative with respect to the setting up of the necessary procedures and processes was one of professionalism. This professionalism has now been confirmed by approval from the aviation authority.

Final assembly of the components prepared in Friedrichshafen shall begin in the first quarter 2013 in the USA. A year later Goodyear shall start operation of the first Zeppelin NT. The contract covering 3 new Zeppelin NT goes well beyond the scope of a normal order. Goodyear and Zeppelin have agreed on close co-operation during the development and production of the airships. The entire procurement and production planning will be controlled from Friedrichshafen, including the processing of individual parts and the pre-assembly of components, with the latter already being in full swing. A major challenge is posed by the transport of parts. In addition to secure packaging, specific transportation conditions have to be assured, for example temperature and humidity parameters must be met and special transport fixtures used.

The team headed by ZLT Chief Technical Officer Robert Gritzbach is also working on numerous additional options which Goodyear has ordered for its zeppelins. "Among other things, we are designing a new cockpit display system, re-inforcements for the inner structure and a special mast system for on-site airship operations," Robert Gritzbach said.

Training for the American airship team began in February 2012. Since then, two to four members of the Goodyear Airship Sector have been undergoing continuous training, attending various programmes organised by ZLT and are integrated into the DZR airship operations in Friedrichshafen. Training for the entire Goodyear team will stretch over the next two years.

Contact details from our directory:
ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH & Co. KG Airframer
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company Tyres
Related aircraft programs:
Zeppelin NT