UA partners with LTA Research to develop airships in Akron



Luke Held (left), an alumnus of UA, and UA student Andrew Chong quality-check and organize 3D-printed components. Courtesy of LTA Research.

Nearly 100 years after the first rigid airship was built in Akron, LTA Research, an aerospace research and development company, is renewing research and investment into airship aviation technology in Akron. LTA has entered into an agreement with The Development Finance Authority (DFA) of Summit County to sublease space at the Akron Airdock to house manufacturing and flight operations. LTA Research is a company focused on the research and development of 21st century piloted and unpiloted airships. This significant work has the potential to provide multiple benefits, including an innovative approach to delivering humanitarian aid, the reduction of carbon emissions normally associated with aircraft, and growth for local economies. The agreement represents LTA’s long-term commitment to Akron, the birthplace of airship technology.

Four Akron Law students participate in a mock trial competition virtually

UA student Tommy Alvarado installs the final structural component on the team's most recent flight vehicle. Courtesy of LTA Research.

“We could not be more excited about LTA's increasing investment in airship research, development and manufacturing capabilities here in Akron,” says Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “The airship is such a recognizable symbol of our City and to see LTA reinvigorate this technology in the birthplace of airships is truly a full circle moment for our community. Akron is proud of our history as a place of innovation and we look forward to supporting LTA as they continue in that tradition.”


UA students Amy Gravenstein (left) and James Campbell prepare test samples with UA alumna Jillian Hilenski. Courtesy of LTA Research.

For more than two years, LTA has partnered with UA to design, develop, and test small unpiloted airships and have received certification from the Federal Aviation Administration for previous test flights. The innovative team includes graduate and undergraduate students in the College of Engineering and Polymer Science who are proud to be reviving this legacy of aviation and renewing manufacturing innovation in Akron, where it all started. UA engineering students on the team are studying design principles including propulsion, controls, aerodynamics, and advanced manufacturing techniques.

Opportunities for students

“This exciting partnership between LTA and our College of Engineering and Polymer Science underscores The University of Akron’s reputation as a public urban research university,” says UA President Gary L. Miller. “UA students representing such engineering disciplines as aerospace, mechanical and electrical are being afforded skill-enhancing and experiential learning opportunities they could not have received anywhere else. Thanks to their significant contributions, the University is uniquely situated to, once again, be on the forefront of innovation in a city that has long been a leader in airship aviation technology.”


UA student James Campbell (left) prepares test samples with UA alumnae Karl Bates and Jillian Hilenski. Courtesy of LTA Research.

This investment from LTA into the Akron community means potentially hundreds of new jobs for UA engineering students and graduates and will significantly bolster the economy of the region at large with millions of dollars generated by new jobs and related commerce.

The Development Finance Authority (DFA) of Summit County has owned the Airdock and leased it to Lockheed Martin since 2006. On Monday, March 8, the DFA Board will consent to a sublease to enable LTA Research to move into and operate in the Airdock, which is still pending approvals, and will expand the manufacturing and engineering work based in its Mountain View, California, headquarters.


Media contact: Alex Knisely, 330-972-6477 or