AEM Tackles Custom Fabrications

When a major player in the airship world outsourced the building of their blimps, AEM designed a FAA approved combined rack / console that holds $300,000 of electronic equipment and was delivered at half the cost of a German-made off-the-shelf product.

We’ve all looked up in the sky to notice blimps or balloons being used for marketing and advertising purposes. But how often have we stopped to consider what goes into getting one of these massive airships off the ground?

For years, a major player in the airship world has been designing and manufacturing its own blimps inhouse. While often used for marketing the company and entertaining VIPs, the most frequent use of the dirigibles is to film from above - sporting events, concerts, and the like.

When the company recently outsourced the building of the blimps to a German company, one of the components needed was a rack to house all the video recording equipment - an accessible storage unit that would allow for quick and easy loading and unloading, and that would also be FAA-approved. The German manufacturer had a rack that was not rugged enough for the expected wear-and-tear, so the customer looked elsewhere.

The customer came to American Engineering & Metalworking to see if we could build what they wanted. Once we were vetted, we met the client on site, studied the component parts that would be stored, went to the drawing board, and designed a custom solution. Our unique design yields a combined rack / console that not only holds $300,000 of electronic equipment but also turns into a workspace from which the film crew can operate. To accomplish loading and unloading in an hour, our design calls for a removable seat, which allows the rack to slide on and off of the seat tracks. Best of all, this custom solution was half the cost of the off-the-shelf product from the German manufacturer.

AEM submitted both rough and finished designs that eventually garnered FAA approval, manufactured the racks ourselves, and delivered them in time for flight testing and commissioning. The custom fabrication is now in use on three different blimps, and the customer is extremely pleased and grateful for the work we’ve done.

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