Harken’s Black Magic® Air Blocks® Take High-flying Acrobat to New Heights

Adilson Santos - www.adilsonsantos.co.uk - 0.2 photo credit Mark Morreau cropped tall
For growing audiences around the world, Adilson Santos is fast becoming a household name for the stunning performances he delivers as an acrobat. Adilson is notable for becoming the first and only artist coached by the renowned Russian acrobat, Alexander Dobrynin. Travelling at speeds of up to five meters per second, Adilson executes breath-taking routines that are thehallmark of Dobrynin’s ‘Bungee Straps’ discipline.

In performing such acrobatic feats, safety is the foremost concern and the responsibility of the behind-the-scenes production technical team. Working to European Work at Height directives, every item of equipment used on the stage has to be approved by the entire technical team; including the head riggers and aerial performers. Equipment is carefully inspected before and after every use to ensure the safety of performers as they execute heart-stopping acrobatic feats.

For the rare aerial discipline of Bungee Straps, the main challenge was to find a high-strength pulley with a proven track record and two specific characteristics: it had to be free-rolling under high variable dynamic loads during a performance (up to 4kN) and fit for use in human suspension at these loads to ensure compliance with regulations. The required specification exceeded all available PPE certified pulley capabilities, leaving few options to Adilson. Self-engineering a certified high-performance pulley was ruled out due to the high cost and lengthy time associated with such a process. Instead, the solution came in the form of Harken Industrial and their 100-mm Black Magic® Air Blocks®.

Designed originally with a high strength-to-weight ratio for high-end racing yachts, this versatile pulley surpassed Adilson’s expectations. It not only met all of his performance needs, it also opened up the possibility of using either synthetic or wire ropes. Certification of the pulley is to the Machinery Directive for goods/equipment with a break load of 60kN (6 tonnes) and Maximum Rated Load of 15kN (1.5 tonnes). Whilst this high-performance pulley is NOT certified to PPE standards, it has been proven at higher operating loads and by applying a factor of safety of 10 from the break load, as documented in UK LOLER Regulations 1998 for human lifting using goods lifting equipment, the resulting rated load of 6kN (600kg) proved more than sufficient for human suspension in this use and was signed off by the client.

“With Harken’s excellent technical team within easy reach and their global chain capability, I know I can easily replace a piece of equipment anywhere in the world, should the need arise. It means I am free to focus on pushing the boundaries of my work, setting the bar a little higher each and every time.” said Adilson. “To do that, I need to trust my equipment and know that it has been made from the very best
materials. For that reason, I choose Harken.”

Adilson Santos - www.adilsonsantos.co.uk - 0.4 photo credit Mark Morreau from right v small
See Adilson Santos performing at height at www.youtube.com/watch?v=V14WGb1Kh0Q
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Harken Black Magic(r) Air Pulleys