Technological innovations of recent years have freed consumers from the restrictions of wired devices. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and mobile phones have essentially forced corded electronics into museums and history books. Following suit, aviation headset manufacturers have introduced a variety of choices for cordless aviator earphones.
Pilot aviation headset options have always offered aviators a fairly wide selection of features and prices. Within the past decade or so, headset companies have introduced models that incorporate the latest in cell phone and audio entertainment. More recently, earphone selections became equipped with Bluetooth offerings of these same audio and mobile phone features, freeing pilots from connecting to these devices via cords. Now, pilot headphones themselves are available without the restrictions of wired connections. Though wireless models have been around for several years now, new models and advanced features continue to hit the market.
How do they work?
Wireless headsets utilize the 2.4 GHz radio frequency band, which is commonly used for a variety of wireless data technologies around the world. The headsets work with a base unit, which plugs into the aircraft’s radio/comm. system through conventional headset jacks to send and receive transmissions over the 2.4 GHz RF (radio frequency). Audio transmissions jump between the headset and base unit, much like a cordless phone works with its docking station, to provide pilots with untethered cockpit communications.
Advantages of Going Wireless
Besides the obvious freedom of being unleashed from the aircraft’s communications system, wireless headsets provide many other benefits for users. At the top of the list is the lack of cords to work around. In the small cockpits of general aviation airplanes, headset cords are known to get caught in seat rails, tripped on by occupants entering and exiting the aircraft, and forgotten by wearers who attempt to move beyond the cord’s length. Wireless headphones negate the possibilities of cord damage and whiplash their wired brethren can incur.
Cordless headsets also provide a degree of utility not offered by tethered models. On noisy airport ramps, pilots now have the option of wearing their headsets during external preflight inspections and fueling operations. Audio and mobile phone Bluetooth features also permit pilots to make phone calls during these activities, enabling them to file a flight plan, reserve a car, or order fuel. This hands-free ability to multitask saves pilots time while also protecting their hearing. In addition, pilots can continue to converse with occupants of the aircraft as long as they remain within the headset’s usable range.
The selection of the 2.4GHz frequency is also a wise choice. Several nations around the world have reserved this frequency for wireless technologies, so these headsets are usable in numerous locales. As they employ the simplicity of cordless phone-like operation, use is easy and intuitive.
Drawbacks of Wireless Earphones
Cordless headphone technology is not without a few drawbacks. The lack of cords means the wireless system must employ a battery to function. Like all battery-powered devices, the cordless system must be periodically recharged to continue to operate. In addition, the global popularity of the 2.4 GHz frequency means the bandwidth can occasionally become saturated, resulting in possible interference. The requirement for a base unit also means the system is not completely free of wires, since the base device must be plugged into the aircraft’s radio/comm. system. However, these few drawbacks are usually minor issues and easily tolerable for the system’s positive attributes.
For greater cockpit freedom and utility, consider the benefits of a wireless pilot aviation headset. The ongoing development of wireless technology means aviation earphone manufacturers will continue to create and introduce new cordless options. For your next pair of headphones, consider the freedom of cutting the cord.