DUBAI // A world record has been set in the UAE - and it is a real heavyweight.
Yesterday, under the watchful gaze of officials from Guinness World Records, an unmodified Nissan Patrol set the record for the "heaviest aircraft pulled by any production vehicle".
The previous record was set in 2006 by Volkswagen, when one of its V10 Touareg vehicles towed a Boeing 747 weighing 155 tonnes at Dunsfold Aerodrome near London.
But that record was smashed at Sharjah International Airport yesterday, when the Nissan 4x4 hauled a 170.9 tonne cargo plane for more than 50 metres along the runway, beating the previous record by 15.9 tonnes.
The weight included the fuel and cargo on board the aircraft, an RUS Aviation Ilyushin IL-76.
"It went very, very smoothly - it was an easy pull for us," said Yolande Pineda, general manager of corporate communications for Nissan Middle East. "We actually could have continued for longer than the 50 metres but there was no more space so we had to stop."
The event was held as part of the Nissan Patrol Challenge. Last December the car company asked members of the public to come up with ideas to test the vehicle.
Out of more than 600 ideas for unusual challenges, the aircraft-pull was voted the winner after getting 47 per cent of the votes online. Other ideas included racing a camel, backwards, in the desert.
"We congratulate Nissan on its achievement and look forward to its future innovative campaigns," said Dr Ghanem Alhajiri, chairman of Sharjah International Airport.
It was a proud moment for Nissan in the Middle East:
"Today Nissan celebrates another landmark day in the Middle East with its second Guinness World Record in eight months," said Samir Cherfan, managing director of Nissan Middle-East.
"When we began this project we encouraged the people of the Middle East to dream up the next challenge for the Nissan Patrol. The overwhelming response has been the inspiration for today's events, and we thank all who participated."
The plane also has a reputation to uphold as it claims to be one of the world's toughest cargo planes, designed to be able to deliver supplies and take-off and land in some of the world's most extreme environments.
"We are pleased and honoured to be part of the Nissan Patrol Challenge in their bid for a Guinness World Record, and delighted that it is being held in the United Arab Emirates," said Saleh Al Aroud, chairman of RUS Aviation.
Nissan said it planned to sell 22,000 Patrols this year.