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Zeppelin 24 Hour Flight - March 2010

On 23rd March 2010, ZEPPELIN NT07, D-LZZF, departed on an endurance trial, with a crew of 3 pilots aboard. The Zeppelin NT took off at 10:20 local time intending to fly two routes. On the first route, their flight took them over Kempten, Munich, Nuremberg, Frankfurt (Main), Mainz and Friedrichshafen. The second route took the Zeppelin NT to Laupheim, Augsburg, Landsberg, Kempten and back to Friedrichshafen.

In 24 hours and 40 minutes the ship covered a total un-refuelled distance of 1450 KM (783 NM) and returned to land on 24th March at 11:00 local time. The Zeppelin was fitted with a long distance kit, comprising additional fuel tanks in the gondola and a mechanism with which to transfer fuel to the main tanks when necessary. Tests of the refuelling procedures were completed successfully during the flight. Additionally the Zeppelin crew was also interested to prove whether a long distance flight can be operated with 3 pilots turning their shift every two hours the night. The pilots were in contact to the home base in Friedrichshafen at all times. All in all, the 24 hour flight was a test for several systems on board, long distance flight planning as well as for communication and operational procedures. The crew of three flew a total of 783 NM (1450 km) at an average ground speed of 31.3 Knots (58 km/h), using an average of 30 kg/hour of fuel. Defined aim of the test flight was also to go as far as possible by using as little fuel as necessary.

The Zeppelin departed with 1140 kgs of fuel and landed with a remaining fuel of 450 kgs on board. (This would have permitted an additional 10 hours of flight under the test conditions, AND remaining fuel of 150 kgs.) The Zeppelin started with 600 kgs. of heaviness and landed approximately 250 lighter than air, using the Zeppelin´s vectored capabilities to depart and land the Airship without any additional ground crew assistance beyond the normal ground crew procedures. Using its' vectoring engines, the Zeppelin landed, and held position on the ground by its own means, before ballasting up. This test has established a solid baseline for Zeppelin NT, demonstrating a useful range and endurance. Extended range enables the operator of the Zeppelin NT, the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei, to act more flexible in the market of special missions. Long endurance flights are required by customers as research institutes, surveillance and monitoring companies, police and homeland security agencies. Furthermore the extended range kit may have a positive impact on transfer costs and consequently on the sale of airships. Previous distance tests of small LTAV include a distance of 626.1 KM by an AU30 on 14 September 2008 in Russia, which broke the previous 374.71 KM set in 1990 by a GA-42 in the USA. (Source: FAI). Previous endurance records for small LTAV include 24 hours, 39 minutes and 55 seconds set by an A150 on 15 Sep 2004 (Source FAI), but the Skyship 600 flight in Sep 1990 in excess of 50 hours un-refuelled is not recorded by the FAI. The non-rigid Airship record for un-refuelled distance and endurance remains the flight of the US Navy ZPG 2 'Snowbird' in March 1957, which covered 15,205 KM in 264 hours.

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