An airship (飛行船 Hikōsen?) is a lighter-than-air craft that uses buoyant gasses to float in the air. Due to their passive flotation abilities, an airship can possess a greater range and fuel efficiency than airplanes, such as a flying boat.
Airships vary in their design, but most appear to possess a rigid frame due to the ribbing that can be seen through the envelope, and the envelope themselves do not deflate once the airship has landed. Marley, perhaps the most ubiquitous user of airships, have craft whose propellers are mounted next to a large compartment nearly 2/3rds as long as the airship's frame. The bridge, machine guns, and carrying areas are all in one compartment under the ship.
Prior to the year 850, airships were only in possession of nations outside of Paradis Island, due to its century-long isolation from the rest of the world. However, by 854 the Survey Corps was able to obtain their own airship, which they use to extract troops from the raid on Liberio.
In the year 817, Marley was operating at least one airship. This airship was followed by Grisha and Faye Yeager out of the internment zone to its hangar, where they would get punished by Marleyan officers of the PSA for trespassing. After his physical punishment, Grisha was allowed to continue watching the craft with the officer.
Sometime later on Paradis Island, Armin Arlert's parents attempted to escape the Walls using a hot air balloon (which due to being unpowered is technically not an airship). Unfortunately, the Military Police caught wind of their attempt, and they were promptly killed, leaving Armin an orphan.
In the closing stages of the Marley Mid-East War, the Marleyans employ an airship to survey the battlefield and prepare an attack on the enemy position, floating high above Fort Slava. Along with the captive Eldians, who are to be transformed into Titan fodder, Reiner Braun and Zeke Yeager are preparing to jump and assault the fort. After the armored train has been disabled, the Eldians are parachuted down from the airship's hold. While in mid-air they are transformed by Zeke into Titans, and employed as both a kinetic bombardment and living weapon as some survive the landing and start wreaking havoc on the fort's defenders. Reiner follows them down to take out the remaining anti-Titan artillery, and is soon followed by Zeke. The airborne operation succeeds in taking the fort and annihilating the Mid-East Allied Navy, but Reiner is left grievously wounded.
Shortly afterwards, Eren Yeager initiates an attack on the Marleyan city of Liberio. The Survey Corps plants lights on rooftops to mark a path, which turns out to be the path that their airship -piloted by Onyankopon- takes during the troop extraction. Using their Vertical Maneuvering equipment, the forces of Paradis extract themselves from the battlefield. Noticing this, Porco Galliard attempts to destroy the craft using his Titan, but is immobilized by Mikasa Ackerman and Eren's Attack Titan. After claiming the War Hammer Titan, Mikasa takes Eren up into the airship. By killing a Survey Corps soldier, Gabi Braun and Falco Grice also manage to board the airship, where Gabi shoots into the crowd of celebrating soldiers and inadvertedly kills Sasha Blouse. They are then subdued, before being taken towards the cockpit and to Zeke, where he reveals that this was all part of his plan. The airship encounters no further resistance, and arrives safely at Paradis Island.
As a retaliation for the Raid on Liberio, the Marleyan military sends a flight of airships to attack Shiganshina and take the Founding Titan. After dropping their complement of troops and equipment, including an anti-Titan artillery provision for the Cart Titan, the airships loiter above, and they rain down fire upon the Yeagerist forces using their machine guns. However, they are helpless as soon as Zeke arrives; his barrage of stones brings down the five loitering airships and one of them crashes onto the gate to Wall Maria, blocking it.
As the Rumbling nears Fort Salta, the airships stationed there take off, sent to bombard the Founding Titan and its Wall Titans using explosive barrels. However, the fort's commander panics when he notices a flash of light from the Founder and orders the ships to drop their payload immediately. Due to the high altitude of the drop the bombing does minimal damage to the Rumbling. In response to this, Eren Yeager manifests Zeke Yeager's Beast Titan from the back of his own Titan, and the Beast generates fragments to lob at the airships. Fort Salta's fleet falls, leaving it defenseless. The wreckages are subsequently trampled by the Rumbling .
- Due to their designs incorporating a rigid, supportive frame, most of the airships seen would be classified as zeppelins.