In the sky (again)

I don’t think I have ever mixed such a crazy gig…

Yes, really really crazy. But, a bit of fun and another personal achievement – the second time I’ve spec’ed, installed and engineered a ‘gig in the sky’. Again for BA, but this time en route to New Orleans.

This time I used the excellent Sennheiser LSP500Pro speaker systems, and a super-compact Soundcraft Ui12 mixer. As you can imagine there was a fair amount of paperwork involved in installing a PA system on one of BA’s new 787 Dreamliners, not least when it comes to Lithium Ion batteries contained in the speakers (and let’s not even talk about the first time this came up… wikipedia ).

If you are up on your Li-ion battery fire knowledge (which I now feel somewhat of an expert on), you’ll know that you can’t really ‘extinguish’ (in the normal sense anyway) the fire created by a ‘thermal runaway’ event, instead the procedure is to try and remove the exothermic reaction until the heat reduction exceeds the heat produced.

In simple terms, put the battery in water and keep pouring in cold water until the reaction stops.

In discussions with BA’s technical & aircraft safety teams, we supplied large steal catering trays big enough to place the whole speaker into in case of a battery fire. Kept in the same location as the speaker with several 2 litre bottles of the finest BA mineral water, it would have given us the crucial minutes to prevent a possible disaster. It’s kind of strange standing on a ‘plane briefing the crew on safety procedures for once! The most important aspect of all of this (and the myriad of other methods & procedures I had to write) is communicating this both pre-event and whilst in the air – I really did feel like part of the crew.

As you can see from the video there really wasn’t any space left once people got up to enjoy the performance which added to the challenge of getting enough volume, not to mention being at 40,000 feet and the noise associated with that! We also had a lot of fun following cables about as there is no CAA approval for the use of radio microphones onboard an aircraft – and that takes some time to complete –  although, if I get the chance to do another I may well try out some radio mic’s in the 2.4GHz band as these would qualify as WiFi devices which are now approved on some of the new ‘planes.

All the artists accepted the limitations graciously, and I have to say, performed exceptionally in what can only be described as a challenging environment.

Happily I did manage to get 24hrs in New Orleans to experience Mardi Gras before departing on to South Carolina for my next event for Penguins Events, finally returning home ten days later. If I can moan at all, it can only be because I’ll lose my Silver BA card as charter flights don’t accrue Tier Points! C’est la vie!

Back to terra firma…



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