Hijacked plane returns home

26 April 2018

A Scheurle Ultralight Combi has helped carry a plane that is part of German history.

The autumn of 1977 was a difficult one in Germany.

The group known as the Red Army Faction was at the height of its activities. On 13 October, Lufthansa flight 181 was hijacked in an attempt to force the release of imprisoned members of their group.

The ordeal of the hijack victims lasted five days; the kidnappers forced the plane to fly first to Rome, then via Cyprus to Aden, to Dubai, and finally to Mogadishu in Somalia. There, on 18 October, a few minutes after midnight, the plane was stormed by units from the specialist German force GSG 9. All the hijackers except one were killed; all of the 85 hostages and five remaining crew survived. The captain had been shot by the hijackers in Aden.

A final chapter has now been written in the story. The plane involved, a Boeing 737 named Landshut, ended up derelict and rotting in Brazil. As perhaps the most famous Lufthansa aircraft in existence, the Dornier Museum of Friedrichshafen wanted it brought back to Germany to be put on display.

To achieve the move, the fuselage, with the wings removed, was loaded onto a giant Antonov 124 transport plane—described by the museum as the largest transport aircraft in the world—and flown to Friedrichshafen airport, near Lake Constance. The wings and engines followed on a smaller Ilyushin 76.

From the airport, Spedition Kubler was brought in to move the fuselage to the museum, which lies on the airport perimeter. Experienced in the ground movement of aircraft, Kubler used a Scheuerle UltralightCombi boiler deck for the job. Two telescopic boom cranes from Schmidbauer did the loading.

“With the new Scheurle boiler deck we were able to drive to Friedrichshafen without requiring an empty-run approval” explained Heinz Rossler, managing director at Spedition Kubler. “Once there we extended the vehicle to the required length through the addition of beams.” The fuselage of a Boeing 737 is 29m long.

The Scheurle UltralightCombi is available as a combination vehicle with a 12t axle load, 2.55m width, 650mm axle compensation and 60° steering angle. The flat bed deck is 250mm high, so high loads can be moved without difficulty.

The Boeing Landshut reached the museum safely and is currently being restored to go on show in October 2019.

The Landshut is prepared for lifting onto the trailer, with the nose door of the Anotonov shown in the background