Re: Q: Airliners crew headsets

From: (Robert Dorsett)
Organization: Netcom Online Communications Services (408-241-9760 login: guest)
Date:         02 Jun 94 00:09:38 
References:   1
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In article <airliners.1994.1288@ohare.Chicago.COM> (Francis JAMBON) writes:
>I would like to know if crew are usually using headsets, and what sort of
>headsets they use (passive noise-cancelling or walkman type) ?

Crews (or at least pilot-talking) usually use headsets, even though most 
airliners provide speakers for use in the cockpit.  On a 747, for instance,
you have three comm VHF, two comm HF, the cabin PA, two VORs, and two ADFs 
to choose from. :-)  People can be checking different things at different

I've never seen airline pilots use noise-attenuating or walkman-type headsets;
these tend to be favored by private pilots and corporate pilots.  The
major issues are:

1.  Comfort.  Noise-attenuating headsets tend to get hot, and they tend to
squeeze.  Not fun if in the air for ten hours.  In a noisy environment, 
though, this can easily alleviate the stress cause by noise, so they're
popular with prop pilots.

2.  Weight.  Ditto: no fun for that long.  

3.  Size.  Not gonna use it if it takes a separate briefcase to lug it
around in.  

I'd have to say the all-time most popular headset has to be the cheapest
one in the Telex line, a little molded plastic deal, with two swivel speakers
that insert directly into the ear canal.  There is no boom (handheld mikes
are fine), and it's trivial to swap the "active" ear or position the
speakers to a comfortable position.

Lately, headsets which vaguely resemble hearing aids have been gaining
popularity: these fit into the ear, with a wrap-around support around the
ear.  These have the disadvantage of being one-year-only.

Walkman-type headsets get very itchy if worn very long.  The foam also
doesn't react well to sweat over the long-term.

>And last question : what sort of plugs you need to use headsets in Airbus
>cockpits ?

If you have to ask the question, I'd suggest not trying it: I'm sure you 
wouldn't want to risk plugging a non-certified device into an airliner's
communications system.  Especially on an Airbus: maybe they didn't code for 
that contingency! :-) :-)

Robert Dorsett