x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Building platform at the pinnacle of the Burj Khalifa was a tall order

The Burj Khalifa’s pinnacle has a circumference of just 1.2m and the base-jumping platform needed to support the weight of eight men during a day of base jumping, 828m off the ground - making the task extremely challenging for the team.

On top of Burj Khalifa: Support staff Chris Hughes, Megarme, top centre; platform designer Andy Veal, WSP, centre; Daniel Eede, Megarme operations manager, left; Jayson, Megarme level 3 supervisor, with blue scarf; and Billy, Megarme level 2 supervisor, wearing orange webbing. Photo courtesy Skydive Dubai; Daniel Eede, Megarme
On top of Burj Khalifa: Support staff Chris Hughes, Megarme, top centre; platform designer Andy Veal, WSP, centre; Daniel Eede, Megarme operations manager, left; Jayson, Megarme level 3 supervisor, with blue scarf; and Billy, Megarme level 2 supervisor, wearing orange webbing. Photo courtesy Skydive Dubai; Daniel Eede, Megarme

DUBAI // There is no questioning the bravery of the two base jumpers who leapt from the Burj Khalifa, but spare a thought for the team who had to erect a three-and-half-metre steel platform at the tiny peak of the tallest building in the world.

The Burj Khalifa’s pinnacle has a circumference of just 1.2m and the base-jumping platform needed to support the weight of eight men during a day of base jumping, 828m off the ground.

The task of ensuring this platform was put into place safely, and on time, fell to Megarme, a Dubai rope-access company, and its operations manager, Daniel Eede.

“No one has ever built anything like this, it was completely new to everyone,” said Mr Eede, a UK national.

“All in all we had 60 pieces of steelwork to build the actual platform and it all had to fit together perfectly. Obviously safety was our highest priority.”

The structure was taken piece by piece in lifts to the 159th floor, and then had to be hauled up the remainder of the structure using a cradle and, finally, by rope-hauling systems.

The construction firm Eversendai built the platform itself, and every effort was made to ensure the stunt went off without a hitch.

Prior to installation, a mock-up of the project was made at Eversendai’s building yard in Ajman, and minor adjustments were made to make it as safe as possible.

Despite the unique event, Megarme is familiar with the world’s tallest building, as the company is responsible for the day-to-day window cleaning that takes place, and installing the fireworks on the structure for celebrations.

Mr Eede said the platform took four days to erect and he had been amused to see the online speculation about what was going on.

“We started seeing people posting photos of the ‘mysterious platform’ and asking questions. But among the group we were all sworn to secrecy and we all found it quite funny.”

He said that when the day finally came it was thrilling, and emotional.

“These are two guys who are just living life to the fullest. Everyone says they are crazy but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. They were amazingly professional – and you saw the emotion when they landed safely.

“I have been involved in an incredible amount of rope-access projects – the Wembley Arch and London Eye – but this by far topped my career,” he said.

He said that the pair of daredevils - Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet - went on to perform three more jumps that day.

ksinclair@thenational.ae