Monday, April 6, 2009

Questions Answered: Headsets

What type of headset do you use? Since you use batteries, I surmise that you have an active noise reduction headset, but is it an in-ear type of headset, or a larger David Clark-style GA headset?

Also, are the headsets worn during all phases of flight, or are they just required during certain phases?


When I first started flying I bought a David Clark headset (a h10-13.4). It was very high quality, but squeezed the heck out of my head. There is a reason why they are nicknamed David Clamps. I quickly bought a Telex Stratus 30XT headset. It was ANR and I loved it. I wanted to use it at my airline, but it wasn't TSO approved.

When shopping for a headset I would go ahead and buy one TSO approved. I didn't know what the heck TSO was when I started flying. TSO stands for Technical Standard Order. A TSO'd  headset  has met minimum performance standards issued by the FAA for specified materials, parts, processes, and appliances used on civil aircraft. Not all headsets are TSO'd. The FAA requires airline pilots to use TSO'd headsets. Some pilots use non TSO'd headsets thinking they will never get caught. True the risk are low, but are still too high for me.

My current headset is a Telex 500 ANR headset (TSO approved!). The headset retails for $500! I bought it for $100. How ? Well the eBay seller misspelled Telex (he spelled it Tellex) so I was the only bidder. I search for misspellings.

I am pretty happy with the Telex 500 ANR. My two biggest gripes are it uses 9-volt batteries and the ear muffs aren't easily replaced. For $100 I am happy....if I spent the full $500 I would be upset.

My airline (and maybe the FAA) requires that I (along with the Captain) wear a headset while taxiing and under FL180. I normally wear it the entire flight. The CRJ is very quiet once up at cruise altitude. I still wear my headset. Hearing is important. The extreme majority of my Captains don't hear nearly as well as they should. This comes from years of flying loud airplanes with crappy or no headsets. Many of them take off their headsets whenever they aren't required. No thanks. Once hearing is lost, you can't get it back. The ERJ's (135,140 and 145s) are MUCH louder than the CRJ. This is due to Embraer using the exact same cockpit as the Embraer Brasillia (a turboprop). The Brasillia cockpit is quiet for a turboprop. The Brasillia flies at turboprop speeds. The ERJ flies at jet speeds. High speeds in a cockpit designed for low speeds equals a very loud ride. I have only jumpseated in the ERJ once....I was glad I had my headset!

The airline supplies 3 David Clark headsets in each cockpit. One for each pilot and one for a jump seater. I have used them maybe twice, but only after a very intense cleaning with alcohol wipes.

The choice for ANR vs NON-ANR is a personal one. Remember, once you lose a part of your hearing you will never get it back!


  1. If you could afford any kind of headset you wanted...what would you get?

  2. I just thought it was funny to see your my time at ATP video on youtube and realize the first plane you ever flew was N21515.. Well today, April 12, 2009 in daytona beach, FL will be my 2nd trip in N21515.... She really gets around


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