VW SUV’s hauling ability is planely obvious


A V10 diesel-powered Volkswagen Touareg sport-utility vehicle successfully tows a Boeing 747 commercial airliner.

Now that’s what you call pulling power! A V10 diesel-powered Volkswagen Touareg sport-utility vehicle successfully towed a Boeing 747 commercial airliner weighing approximately 155 tonnes (310,000 lb) at an airfield south-west of London recently.

And, in doing so, gave us a sneak peek at what the next generation Touareg will look like.

The vehicle was a standard production model Touareg fitted with a special towing adapter to connect it with the 747’s towing link and loaded with 4.3 tonnes (8,600 lb) of metal ballast — to prevent the SUV from pulling a wheelie down the runway — bringing its total weight to just over seven tones (14,000 lb) including the driver.

Apart from using an axle ratio from the V8 gasoline-powered version of the SUV, the only other modification was to change the outer body panels for photographic purposes so that this example looked visually the same as the new-model Touareg, due to be launched next year.

The ex-British Airways jet retained its full complement of 500 seats, 11 toilets and complete landing gear, albeit without an operating braking system. The original engines were removed last year to make way for dummy twin pylon-mounted powerplants when it was used in filming scenes from the new Bond movie Casino Royale. Despite this, the aircraft still weighed 155 tonnes, due in part to the 28 tonnes (56,000 lb) of water held on board in the fuel and nose tanks.

Conditions for the attempt were far from perfect. A strong headwind combined with torrential rain and resulting standing water prompted concerns over traction on the wet surface. As well as overcoming the initial friction of the big jet’s tires on the runway, the Touareg had to generate enough energy to overcome flat spots that had formed on the jumbo’s 18 tires before the aircraft started rolling.

Despite the scale of the effort, the Touareg needed little preparation. The engine was warmed up before a brief visual inspection of the tires prior to the attempt being given the green light. All told, seven complete runs were made.

After the attempt, Uwe Krieghoff, the driver, commented: "I was a bit disappointed we couldn’t find something heavier to tow as it was a bit too easy. If anyone can lend us a heavier aircraft then please let us know."

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