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CargoLifter Starts Production
Production of "Lighter-than-Air"
transportation aircraft has begun
Capital increase in 2001/
Completion of the first "flying crane" scheduled for end of 2003
Berlin/Brand (ots) - CargoLifter AG has reached another milestone in the realization of its key technology. On September 27, 2001 the finance minister of the State of Brandenburg, Dr. Wolfgang Fürniß officially kicked off production of the logistics company's unique "Lighter-than-Air" aircraft. Engineers working at the CargoLifter hangar in Briesen-Brand with specialist teams from suppliers and development partners will develop and manufacture both the 260-meter-long CargoLifter CL 160 transportation airship and the CL 75 AirCrane transportation balloon(diameter: 61 meters), paving the wave for serial production. "Here in Brand, over the last three years, we've built up a complete manufacturing location including all necessary infrastructure for our "Lighter-than-Air" transportation aircraft as well as put together a team with world class know-how," said Dr. Carl von Gablenz, Chairman of the Board of CargoLifter AG. "Innovation requires courage and broad support - which we've demonstrated to our employees and shareholders over the last few years."
From the beginning, von Gablenz said, CargoLifter, was planned as an open system - in which not only investors and potential users could profit from, but also development and supplier companies. "The production of our "Lighter-than-Air" transportation aircraft offers a chance to not only develop a unique key technology in Germany, but actually make it a reality here as well."
Airship production in six steps
The start of production in Brand means the realization phase has begun. "When it comes to the beginning of production, you shouldn't imagine this means that there will be a finished airship in the hangar in a few weeks," explained von Gablenz. "First of all, external partner companies will manufacture many components of the CL 160, while engineers in Brand prepare production equipment and assembly facilities, as well as carry out the necessary tests for production." In the production of the CL 160, all parties will concentrate on their core strengths. In our case, that means, before all else, the airship envelope. For this key area of "Lighter-than-Air" technology, we've created all necessary conditions such as assembly facilities, helium logistics and gas management as well as refining our internationally one-of-a-kind expertise."
Between now and the start of serial production of the CL 160 transportation airship in the 2004/2005 business year, CargoLifter will complete six phases of production: production planning; materials acquisition; assembly of individual components such as nose caps, keel, gondola, loading frame, envelope and tail units; group- and structural assembly of components including installment of systems; final assembly followed by tests on the ground and in the air. The first prototype of the CL 160 should be complete by the end of 2003. The first test flights are planned for 2004.
Capital increase planned for this year
"Preparations for the next step in raising capital are proceeding at full speed," said Karl Bangert, CargoLifter board member responsible for finance. "We've already received the first pledges from strategic investors that they will take part." He said that both equity capital and outside capital increases will be considered. Through private stakes, subsidies from the State of Brandenburg and the IPO in May 2000, the company raised 270 million euros in equity capital. Additional capital increases this and next year should bring in the 320 million euros needed before the start of serial production. The first CargoLifter product should be a further source of income. The prototype of the CL 75 AirCrane has been assembled in the hangar since January 2001 and should ready to be used for commercial use to transport loads up to 75 metric tons in the 2002/2003 business year - before the CL 160 is brought onto the market.
CargoLifter AG, based in Berlin, is developing a 260-meter-long, 65-meter-wide airship for the transport of oversized and heavy goods weighing up to 160 metric tons: the CargoLifter CL 160. This "flying crane" will be able to carry expensive heavy transports faster, more simply and more cost effectively without ever touching the ground while remaining almost entirely independent from the local infrastructure. In a second product-line, which will be ready before the CL 160, the CargoLifter CL 75 AirCrane transportation balloon with a diameter of 61 meters will be able to carry loads of up to 75 tons. To ensure development is oriented towards the market, CargoLifter is already today cooperating with various industrial companies within the framework of its Lead-User concept. Since May 2000, the company's shares have been listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange(WKN 540 261, symbol: CLA). Since December 2000 it has been in the MDAX index.
CargoLifter currently employs 460 people, of whom 253 work on airship development at the dock in Briesen-Brand, near Berlin in the state of Brandenburg. At the moment, Brand is the company's pivotal location. At the end of 2000 the production hangar for the CL 160 was completed. 107 meters high, 210 meters wide and 360 meters long, it is the world's largest freestanding hangar. CargoLifter has also built the CargoLifter World theme park, which gives the public a opportunity to follow the company's progress. It has been immensely popular since opening in June 2000.
ots Originaltext: CargoLifter AG
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