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Tinnitus and Flying Question


ClemXII
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Hello all, new here, very interested in going career with helicopters but possibly have an issue that could stop it. It refers to Tinnitus, for those that don't know, it's a ringing, buzzing ect.. sound you hear 24/7. Can be due to noise damage(as in my case) medications and accidents ect..

 

 

To my question, I've searched on the forums for earplugs and headsets and I've read a ton of different people recommending different things. My main purpose for this post is to find out if anyone has Tinnitus here, what type of headsets and earplugs they use, if they even use earplugs at all, and roughly what kind of sound decibel levels would I be looking at when I train in a Robinson R22 as well as larger turbine Helicopters later on. :D

 

 

I'm very young, 21, already damaged my ears(though my hearing is still fine) and very cautious on anything that could damage my hearing further by going past the threshold of pain for sound. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Clem-

I have had this since age 14 due to hearing damage. I am now 63 and retired airline pilot and avid helo pilot. If you can hear normal conversation in a quiet environment, then you should have no problem. There are a lot of active noise-cancelling headsets available. I use a standard David Clark headset (no active noise cancelling) with no problem.

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I have some tinnitus, off and on, and it's not really a problem. I would suggest getting a standard headset and adding CEP. That will give you the best noise suppression you can get for a reasonable price. ANR is OK, but if the batteries die, or there is a circuit problem, you're without much protection. You can certainly use earplugs under an ANR headset, but I don't really see the point. With a good passive headset, plus the CEPs inside, you can hear the radios very well, keep the volume relatively low, and have very little noise coming into your ears. You'll save a lot of money as well as your ears.

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I use foamies on the flight line and once in the helicopter I use CEPs underneath my helmet, which keeps the sound to a comfortable level.

 

Most smaller helicopters can get to around 100-110db I believe. The Jet Ranger is 106db IIRC.

Edited by SBuzzkill
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Thank you all for your input and information. This was a pretty critical situation for me, so thanks again.

 

I really don't want to spend a fortune on a headset and say high grade customizable ear plugs, but I also don't want to be sacrificing quality and protection for being cheap. I think a relatively good headset with the CEP ( anyone know general price? ) as suggested would be good.

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A quick question regarding certain headsets and blocking certain damaging frequency's. I looked up the Telex Stratus 50D that RotorRunner mentioned and it said this about the headset:

 

"SmartSense DSP technology targets low frequency and tonal noise that conventional ANR can’t block. These are the frequencies that cause the most hearing damage. SmartSense continuously samples the cockpit, then learns and adjusts the headset to the unique noise signature of your aircraft. No other headset eliminates more damaging noise than the Stratus 50 Digital."

 

Anyone know if this is true? In regards to what product states compared to ANR? The thought that a specific headset like this could target the noise that would be damaging my ears sounds fantastic.

Edited by ClemXII
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Clem, I have had this problem for the last few years. A misspent youth. What do you expect from s*x and rock and roll? ;<) As long as you can hear within the limitations of the medical certificate you will be OK, but you must take steps to protect your present hearing. Yes get a good headset. It will not only protect your hearing, but also make your flying experience more enjoyable. You might want to take a look at the Telex Heli XT headset. Telex claims it was designed for thee helicopter environment. I have one and have been quite pleased with it. You might also look at the CEP upgrades. When on the ramp, etc, use ear plugs. The best way to remember is to get the corded ones and always have them around your neck.

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ANR technology has much more problems with high frequencies than lower frequencies. The high frequencies happen so fast it just can't keep up. ANR works pretty well for lower frequencies, and earplugs/CEP works better for higher frequencies. You can look at the NRR graphs and see the guaranteed attenuation at various frequencies.

 

CEP kits cost ~$100, if you can do the installation yourself, more if you pay someone else to do the work. The cost is really pretty reasonable, cheaper than ANR systems. It's also possible to buy an ANR kit for passive headsets, and installation isn't difficult if you have basic skills.

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Thank you very much for the continued information and suggestions. I'm fairly new to this field of equipment so I'll see where I end up. I do like the idea as Gomer pointed out of a standard headset with CEPs. This seems to be more cost effective.

 

I'll look around, see reviews on some decent passive headsets that don't charge a fortune + CEP and I'll be good to go..hopefully. :P

 

As usual, everyone's help was greatly appreciated.

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Thanks Gomer, I've read good things about David Clark, so it's definitely a possibility for me.

 

I also read people with CEP get rid of the foam tips provided with it and use different types for better protection and durability, like rubber inner-ear plugs. Anyone with CEPs use a different plug or are foam ones fine?

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The CEP's are amazing. I fly a very loud helicopter and was getting a ringing in my ears at the end of the day even with ANR. I bought a basic David Clark headset on Ebay and brought it to CEP (the company) and paid for the equipment and they installed it for free. They protect your hearing and make it really easy to hear the intercom and radio calls. I like them so much when I bought a helmet I brought it to them to install it as well. They only charged me $20 for a second interface and installed it for free. If you buy the equipment and ship them your headset with return shipping I believe they will install it for free. As far as the foam plugs, a pack of 12 or so is about $20 and I have only gone through half a pack in a year. Plus you can wash them in warm soapy water just be sure and dry them before sticking them in your ear.

 

CEP USA

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I think the foam ones are fine. That's all I've ever used. You can go through a couple of boxes of foam plugs for the price of a custom silicone set, and I'm not sure you will get better, or even equivalent, noise reduction. Foam earplugs provide >30dB noise reduction across the spectrum when used correctly.

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  • 4 years later...

I don't use ANR in my helmet, but I do have the oregon aero "hush kit" installed. it's extra foam in the earcups, and I use their earseals, too.

 

When wearing a headset, I use bose. ANR headsets like the BOSE aren't about hearing protection' they're about improved communication.

 

I am sitting in bed presently, TV on in the background, and still a loud ringing in my ears (never goes away). Gunfire, large radial engines and turbojets did most of the damage. Ruptured eardrums a few times over the years. I try to keep background white noise going all the time; it distracts from the ringing.

 

I spent all day today running a rivet gun. For earplugs, I use custom molded earplugs that are a silicon rubber type. They come as a kit; mix the two parts, knead it, press it into the ear and let it set. I keep several on hand, and they help.

 

If you go CEP, you can use the foam plugs that are part of the CEP system, or get custom earmold plugs. Custom is more comfortable in the long run.

 

Take care of your hearing. You don't get it back.

 

Outside Basrah a few years ago, I was preparing to descend for the airport. I had a young staff sergeant with me. I asked if he had any ear or sinus issues. He said that he had only one eardrum; the other ear went to an RPG in Baghdad. I told him we'd let down gently, then, and to alert me to any discomfort. He said "It's okay. If the Army wanted me to have another eardrum, they'd issue one."

 

How wrong he was. When your hearing is gone, it's gone.

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