The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.'s initiative to replace it current fleet of blimps with three new airships will bring together three famous brands with deep roots in the history of aviation.
The company plans to replace the blimps with Zeppelin Airship Construction Co. airships that will be powered by engines produced in Williamsport by Lycoming Engines.
The airships will be outfitted with the company's IO-360-C1G6 engines, according to Scott A. Miller, Lycoming Engines communication director.
The "I" stands for "injection" and the "O" stands for "horizontally opposed" - a type of cylinder layout, Miller said.
"We make six families of engines but we have 500 different models designed for certain applications within that scope of six families," Miller said. "This specific application or model is designed for the zeppelin."
"The (IO-360) are probably our best selling engines," Miller said. "They obviously have that Lycoming reliability that we're known for in general aviation."
The engines are about 200 horsepower each, Miller said.
Two of the engines are installed on the front sides of the airship, the other on the back of it, he said.
The front engines can tilt up to 120 degrees, while the back engine can tilt up to 90 degrees, he said.
"They enable vertical take-off and landing, hovering and rotating on the spot," he said. "(The zeppelin) is extremely large but also very maneuverable."
Miller said there is a distinct difference between a blimp and a zeppelin. A zeppelin has a rigid frame, unlike a blimp, which is more like a hot air balloon.
Although many people associate the zeppelin with one of aviation history's most famous and visually spectacular air tragedies, the Hindenburg disaster, the technology used in building the airship makes it much safer today, Miller said.
The proposed Goodyear airships will effectively double the world's zeppelin fleet, Miller said. The Zeppelin company already has three airships using the locally-produced engines, he said.
"We've provided the engines for zeppelin for quite some time," Miller said. "Right now there is an airship called 'Eureka' flown in San Francisco that has Lycoming engines."
Miller said the Zeppelin company will build new airships at Goodyear's Akron, Ohio, plant. The airships - and the pride of Lycoming Engines - are expected to take flight in 2014.
"We have a lot of engines around the world on a lot of really cool aircraft," Miller said. "The zeppelin is going to get everyone's attention. To look up in the sky and say, 'There is our engine' as a zeppelin travels overhead is going to be very cool."