Facts about Headsets

Plane & Pilot

Plane Facts: Headsets

Facts and tidbits about aviation headsets By Plane & Pilot Published December 6, 2019

First aviation headset: 1910

Number sold to U.S. military: ~100

Main problem with early models: Heavy, little to no noise reduction

First lightweight, over-the-ear headsets: MS-50, 1961

Developers: Pilots Courtney Graham & Keith Larkin

Company founded by Graham and Larkin: Pacific Plantronics Inc.

Historic first use: NASA’s 1969 Apollo 11 mission

Modern headset types: Passive Noise Reduction (PNR), Active Noise Reduction (ANR)

How PNR works: High-density, sound-absorbing material filters out sound waves

First commercially available PNR headsets: David Clark, 1975

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Nickname given to David Clarks: “The Green Domes”

Average noise reduction: 17-20 dB

Noise level in Cessna 172s: 100 dB

Jet engine: 130-160 dB

Level ear rupture may occur: 140 dB

Noise level exposure limit set by OSHA: 8 hours @ 85 dB

Average time airline pilots exposed to cockpit noise each year: 900-1,000 hours

Private pilots: 80-100 hours

Short-term side effects of continuous noise exposure: Fatigue, vertigo, anxiety

Long term: Hearing loss, tinnitus, hypertension, cardiovascular disease

Active noise reduction (ANR) headsets: Significantly reduce low-frequency noise See our ANR Headsets Here

How ANR works: Sound waves created by headset speaker cancels out external sound waves

Concept of ANR conceived: 1930s

Inventor: Dr. Lawrence Jerome Fogel

First patents: 1958-1961

First commercially available: 1989, Bose Aviation Headset

Research/development cost of prototype: $50 million

Frequencies blocked: <300 Hz

Ambient noise blocked: ~75%

Average noise reduction: 50 dB

First significant in-flight test: Voyager’s nonstop flight around the world, 1986

Time Voyager pilots exposed to cockpit noise: 9 days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds

Alternate ANR type: Dynamic Noise Reduction (DNR) headsets

Advantages: Lighter, increased noise-canceling via digital electronic technology

Average cost range for ANR/DNR headsets: $250-$1,500

PNR headsets: $60-$600

Bestselling headset companies today: David Clark, Bose, Lightspeed, Faro

Oldest: David Clark, founded 1935

Audio options available: Mono (sound from one ear cup), stereo (sound from both)
ATC radio transmissions: Mono

Purpose of stereo sound capability: Playing music

XM Radio/Bluetooth integration with avionics: Early 2000s

First headset to cut chord via Bluetooth: Airgyro Mach 5

Initial wireless range: 30 feet

Current wireless range: 2,700 feet

Ear most sensitive to noise-related damage: Left

Recommended ear for incoming transmissions: Right

See how our headsets can solve many of the problems addressed above like weight, noise reduction, and sound quality: Flight Pro Aviation Headsets

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