Touareg pulls off heavy-duty tow-job
November 23, 2006
London England - Engineers, Volkswagen personnel and bemused passers-by watched open-mouthed as a VW Touareg V10 TDI towed a 155-ton Boeing 747 down the auxiliary runway at Dunsfold airport, 60km south-west of London – not once but seven times.
The vehicle was a standard production Touareg fitted with a special towing adaptor to connect it with the aircraft towing link and loaded with 4345kg of metal ballast to bring its total weight to 7030kg including the driver, an engineer from the technical department at VW's headquarters in Germany.
The car's engine, self-levelling air suspension, wheels, tyres and structure were all standard, but the outer body panels were changed so this example was visually the same as the next-generation Touareg, due to be launched in 2007
The Touareg began dragging the 109m airframe along the runway, maintaining an even 8km/h
One precaution that turned out to be unnecessary was the fitting of the 4.56 axle ratio from the Touareg V8 in place of the 3.27 gearing of the V10 – scond gear was used for the tow, rather than first!
A theoretical towing capability in excess of 200 tons was calculated by multiplying the V10 TDI's 750NM of torque through the standard transmission's lowest ratio, without taking into account the torque multiplication benefits of the torque converter – but assuming a dry surface and loading the Touareg's body and suspension well in excess of its rated limits.
The aircraft was an ex-British Airways Boeing 747-200, complete 500 seats, 11 toilets and complete landing gear, without engines or brakes but with 28 tons of water ballast in the fuel and nose tanks
'If anyone can lend us a heavier aeroplane, please let us know'
Conditions for the two were far from perfect with a strong headwind and heavy rain, prompting concerns over traction on the wet surface.
The Touareg's engine was warmed up, the tyres were checked, the adapted towing bracket was hooked up to the nose wheel collar of the Boeing and the chocks were removed.
Driver Uwe Krieghoff selected "drive" and the low ratio, second gear setting on the Touareg's six-speed gearbox, pressing the accelerator about halfway down to overcome the additional resistance due to flat spots on the 18 tyres formed under the aircraft's 155 tons, easing off as it gained momentum.
The Touareg began dragging the 109m airframe along the runway, maintaining an even 8km/h; after about 150m Krieghoff eased off the throttle and gently braked to slow both vehicle and aircraft to a stop.
He said afterwards: "I was a bit disappointed we couldn't find something heavier to tow – it was too easy! If anyone can lend us a heavier aeroplane, please let us know."
# The Touareg was checked after the repeated runs and no ill effects from the demands made on the engine and transmission could be found. The engine temperature remained normal, as did the transmission - and the tyres survived without a hint of the forces passed through them.