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Helmets - Should you? and Which?

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Helmets - Should you? and Which?

Old 3rd Mar 2005, 12:54
  #281 (permalink)  
 
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In 1963 the navy gave me a helmet; it was an offence to be on deck during flying stations without hearing protection so I was safe from hearing damage wasn't I? But that certain friendly interservice rivalry usually ensured that a 105mm howitzer would let fly beside you as you attemted to land anywhere interesting. Handed back the helmet in 1968 with slight damage to the eardrums.

BAH issued the early Clarke (protection factor nil); followed some time on 61's and Chinooks here and there. By now high tone hearing has virtually gone and the audiometrist is smirking knowingly at me as I attempt to second guess his idiot test. BA Medical Centre tested us and found slight deterioration but of no concern. Chinook pilots were unable to properly hear their clearances for return into ABZ after 5+ hours and on landing would collapse into a speechless huddle in the corner of the crewroom for an hour or so; the ringing in the ears would only finally go away that night.

From that point onwards in my life I have suffered from "loss of noise discrimination" as it was politely described; exactly as others have stated on this thread. In the pub you have no idea what the man in front of you is talking about (unless he's buying); for me I'm sad that my music collection sounds like my dog.

My final years on the lovely 76 probably sealed my eardrums for good... there was a thread on this last year (S76 Noise I think) which many of the pruners on this present thread contributed to. I can only say that I consider hearing damage to be only one of the factors needing to be addressed for you present day helicopter pilots; what about back problems, noise and vibration related stress problems etc?

Profile of the old helicopter pilot?... blind, deaf, toothless, irreverent and permanently in search of a free meal or beer. There's no help for us.

I hope you younger ones aren't like that.
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Old 3rd Mar 2005, 12:55
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Noise gets you by both the ear canal and by bone conduction as I understand it....that is why the use of ear plugs, good earphones, and a helmet is the best technique. It is not just the turbine noise, but the transmission noise as well that gets you. Ever been inside a Chinook cockpit with no hearing protection and try to carry on a conversation?
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Old 3rd Mar 2005, 13:04
  #283 (permalink)  
 
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I recently brought my Alpha 100 out of retirement, and golly what a difference from the Gentex.

I wear plugs and my helmet constantly, and as Steve76 said, you really DO notice the difference between Visor up and down.

I have a slight dip due to firing rifles in the military without plugs or muffs, but I try the darndest I can to avoid it going any further!

I see some of our guys unplug the APU from the 206B and L without muffs, and wonder if they really know...
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Old 3rd Mar 2005, 19:50
  #284 (permalink)  
 
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I use the HGU56 with CEP (ear-plugs with audio) - US Army type. They work great and the CEP is inexpensive. I tried ANR before, never could get it to work well with any sort of window open or doors off config. - also, the battery changing was bothersome.

The helmet looks large - wide, but is one of the lowest profile helmets (height) and lightest on the market. The visor problem with dirt is a bit of a pain - I make sure the slides are clean and lubricate them with non-dust attracting spray - not sure the name brand, will look it up. Since using that,I've had no more trouble. With CEP, breaking the earcup seal with sunglasses etc is not that much of a deal.
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Old 17th Mar 2005, 12:33
  #285 (permalink)  
 
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Question headset or helmet

Like you guys I'm concerned about the hearing loss thing so I'm going to buy a new headset/helmet. What's the best combination for long-term hearing protection? Helmet/headset/ANR/earplugs/gel seals??
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Old 18th Mar 2005, 09:23
  #286 (permalink)  
 
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Interesting this thread coming up....I'm doing some research on helmets for an article. Seems it's the low frequency noise that eventually leads to the loss of hearing in the high frequency band.

Gentex advises the dBA protection for each of its helmets. Helmet Integrated Systems advise a general dBA reduction and will advise the protection for each frequency if you ask. Gallet just didn't reply to my email. ANR is good but it seems CEP is just as good if not better and much cheaper. I had trouble getting my CEP to be comfortable but with some changing of the ear plug sizes, I now find them quite good.

The HGU56 meets the latest US Army spec.

My advice is to get the latest data from each of the manufacturers and compare them ... weight, dBA protection and impact reistance. Suggest CEP or ANR as well.
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Old 18th Mar 2005, 09:47
  #287 (permalink)  

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After Ogsplash's post, I started Googling a little and came up with a "Gentex HGU-56/P Aircrew Integrated Helmet" for sale on ebay ...

http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI....518177945&rd=1

What prices would you expect to see in your area for these helmets second hand?
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Old 18th Mar 2005, 11:47
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Helmets huh?

I don't know anything about helmets. Can someone tell me what's the best helmet for comfort and endurance? Does anyone know where to get CEP in Australia? Thanks.
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Old 18th Mar 2005, 13:08
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I used to use the Alpha with earplugs jammed in. Good noise reduction, but the helmet gets very hot and sweaty, and earplugs tend to make my ear canal ache after a while.

Now I use the Bose X. In fact, I just did almost 8 hours in a Puma without a a niggle or pain anywhere. They are very light and very comfortable, and the sound quality is superb. Makes a big difference when trying to decifer HF transmissions.

The only drawback is the very flimsy battery pack. For applications where you need to wear a headset outside the aircraft (i.e offshore) it can be a pain in the @rse finding the right spot to put the battery pack without it getting knocked off.
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Old 18th Mar 2005, 13:35
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I use a Brass Ear Trumpet....works a charm!
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Old 19th Mar 2005, 18:29
  #291 (permalink)  
 
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Helmets and Hearing Loss

I use a custom Kevlar helmet from FlightSuits Ltd and wear foam earplugs underneath. I've been doing ag work in both phyxed wing and rotorcraft since about 1967.My high freq hearing shows a measurable loss in spite of my best efforts. While doing competitive pistol shooting I wear ear plugs under my shooting muffs.
If you don't think the plugs matter under the helmet, try a flight wearing just one ear plug under the helmet and prove it to yourself.
I'm just passed 22,000 hours, and my old shooting records indicate I shot more than a million rounds of just the .45acp in practice and competition. Now at 68 yrs old and ready to quit the cockpit.
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Old 26th Mar 2005, 01:00
  #292 (permalink)  
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Unhappy

I have to bring this topic up again:

I used_a Gallet lh250 with original earcups during my training (r22). Since I knew I was going to sit in a 214B1 for 8 hours a day I got the oregonaero softseal/hushkit combo as a replacement for the hard earcups and seals which are not great.
After 2 weeks (90 hours of flying) I'm extremely disappointed. After a few hours the transmission noise drives me nuts.
I'm not sure what to blame: the helmet, the oregeonaero kit or the combination?
I couldn't try the original earcups yet. But that will be my first attempt, even though I'm sure they wont be very comfortable.
Which way is best to get rid of loud, fairly high pitched transmission noise?
-Foamplugs
-Original earcups
-CEP

Any comments?

BTW: Oregonaero Softseal Earcushions get REALLY hard when they get cold. Almost to the point that I had a hard time to get my helmet over my head!!
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Old 26th Mar 2005, 04:27
  #293 (permalink)  
 
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I bought an Oregon Aero kit a few years back for my headset. It lasted less than a week. The noise suppression was less than the standard earseals, and those seals were so thick that they moved around on my head and on the headset. I haven't paid them any more money, and won't in the future. The best earseals I've found are gel-filled, either the standard DC or from third-party vendors. They're comfortable, and provid a good seal, thus good noise suppression. I used liquid-filled seals some years back, but you have to be careful with them, because they can leak, and then you have liquid silicone all down your shirt, and a very flat, very hard earseal. I've seen gel earseals completely torn, with a big hole, and the gel still in place.
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Old 26th Mar 2005, 05:08
  #294 (permalink)  
 
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From my research so far, it seems the 56P with CEP is the front runner for dBA protection down low (apparently it is the low frequencies that damage your high frequency hearing) and impact resistance.
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Old 26th Mar 2005, 10:21
  #295 (permalink)  
 
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We have DC H10-56HXL for the BK and 206's, and use Bose X's in the 109E. The Bose are excellent in the quieter cabin (standard fit, wired in and not changeable), but poor interface with the Agusta audio system, resulting in low volume. They are also designed to be worn only "one way" (left & right earpieces), which doesn't always match the pilot's preference (instructors always seem to want the mike boom on the wrong side, which puts the headband and earpieces misaligned to normal ears).

The 56HXL are very quiet and comfortable, although a bit bulky. Typical David Clark, very well built and robust, good battery life, but mine has an annoying "beat" in the right ear until airborne in the BK. The ear seal is sensitive to noise coming in via the disruption caused by wearing glasses, but this can be minimised by fitting David Clark's foam pads to the arms on the glasses. I suspect that the BK117 beat is from rotor downwash flexing the pilot's window: I can stop it by hand pressure on the perspex, but it would be better if it didn't happen in the first place!

We have had ENC kits on order for our Alpha helmets for 4 months, when (if?) they arrive, I'll let you know
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Old 26th Mar 2005, 20:29
  #296 (permalink)  
 
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I tried out some Bose X ANRs but found the “open port” design unsuitable/weird in an “open” cockpit (door off) and they seemed to amplify the noise when switched of ie negative passive noise reduction.
I've been using the Bose X for about three years, in pistons and turbines (and even in planks, lord help me), doors off for 70% of the piston time, never had a problem with the NR. So far I'm very happy and (as far as I know) my hearing remains unchanged.

However, woe be unto you if you let your batteries go dead! I forestall that by using lithium batteries and carrying a spare set in my kneeboard - the lithium batteries last about 5 times as long as alkalines, and cost about 6 times as much. It's worth the little extra cost to not have to change batteries every week.
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Old 27th Mar 2005, 06:22
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Mr Selfish

Not used lightspeed, friend did and they fell apart on him so never bothered to try them. But here is my take on a couple of types I have used.

Firstly i have to point out that people have different size and shape heads and so you must obviously try each headset yourself in order to find the most comfortable. What is great for one may be ghastly for another

Do try the headsets with and without glases on as some have bad seals when glasses/sunglasses are worn and can go a long way to reducing any ANR gains. Do try the headsets for a realistic period of time. It is no good sticking it on your head for 5 mins in the store then wondering why after 2 hours in the air it is really starting to crush your head.

I have flown a Gazelle helicopter for 3 years with Bose-X installed and found them good though with a few problems. The headbands are not the most comfortable for me and the female passangers hate the way they keep pulling their hair out when removing the headsets(that folding hinge in the middle of the band).

The volume controls could do with working on. These were panel powered but when I have used the battery powered version found the construction of the battery box and controls again could have been improved.

I have also spent a fair amount of time flying a Jet Ranger fitted with the Telex 50 D's. Firstly they are very large & purple! (though they now do come in black and grey)

After using them for a week I had completely forgotten the size of them,still smaller than a helmet, and found them to be very comfortable both with and without glasses. They have larger ear pads and I don't notice the noise level increase when glasses are worn as I do when using the Bose-X, probably due to the larger padding.

I was also told by other pilots that my transmissions were much clearer from the Telex 50's mic. The battery box though is quite large (better build) and I am fortunate in the Jet Ranger to have a spot between the seats to clip it out of the way. Should the battery run down, (though they do have a powers saver facility should you forget and leave them on), they still work very well unlike the bose X that are not really useable when the battery runs flat.

At the end of the day you pay your money and take your choice and it is a personal one that will vary from pilot to pilot. Given the choice I would prefer the Telex 50's overall but either will be better than a standard set of ear warmers.

Buy a pair of each from one of the suppliers. Check the returns policy first !!!! try them both for a week to ten days and then send back the one you don't want. The 50's only come in straight cord but we had them changed to coiled, plenty of places wil do this for you.

Good luck and hope whatever you get works out for you.

P.S. check all your warning horns stall etc. and audible alerts if you use them on the GPS are still heard with the headset on and working as some of these sounds have been known to be masked by ANR. One sadly contributing to a fatal fixed wing accident.
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Old 27th Mar 2005, 21:50
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Banjo, do you have any details on that fatal accident please?

Thanks.
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Old 28th Mar 2005, 11:14
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It was a while ago and the memory is not what it used to be. It was I believe a mooney and was a UK accident. There was a problem with the trim running away and sticking and a contributary factor was that the new ANR headsets helped to mask the stall warning.

Maybe someone on here remembers exactly when it was? I will have a look around in the meantime, but as said the memory is not what it was.

Banjo
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Old 28th Mar 2005, 18:08
  #300 (permalink)  
 
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Banjo:

Only fatal Mooney accident I can find with trim issues is here

However, ANR and rotary inexperience in this incident are linked.
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