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Top 10 Best Aviation Headsets for Pilots in 2023

Are you a pilot looking for the best aviation headset? Whether you are new to flying or a pro, having the right equipment is essential in order to stay safe and perform at your best in the air. An aviation headset will not only protect your ears from noise pollution but also provide clear communication when talking to ATC and other aircraft. Here, we will review 10 of the top-rated headsets so that you can choose one according to your needs and budget.

Being in the cockpit of an aircraft, especially general aviation aircraft, it goes without saying that you will be surrounded by noise. It is therefore that the headphones with active noise reduction technology make such a difference in your comfort and the flight experience.

Personally, I wear Bose noise-cancelling headphones even when I’m just a passenger flying on a commercial airliner. When you have used one of these headsets once, you will never want to back to regular headsets anymore. They make the flight experience so much more pleasant, I can’t imagine flying without them.

Best Aviation Headsets

We review 8 of the best TSO-approved headsets for pilots that you can order of off Amazon right now. Whatever budget you’re on, whether it’s under $200, under $500 or perhaps you have a roomier budget, all these headphones are the best in their respective price range.

Without a doubt though, if only the best is good enough for you, go for either a Bose headset, or a David Clark headset. These brands have proven that they are the best in the industry for pilots.

Bose A30 with Bluetooth and ANR (wired/wireless)

Bose A30 Aviation Headset with Bluetooth, Lightweight Comfortable Design, Adjustable ANR and Noise Cancelling [LEMO (6 pin)] – Black
173 Reviews
Bose A30 Aviation Headset with Bluetooth, Lightweight Comfortable Design, Adjustable ANR and Noise Cancelling [LEMO (6 pin)] – Black
  • UNPARALLELED COMFORT: The Bose A30 is a...
  • ACTIVE EQUALIZATION: Incoming signals...

While the Bose A20 already was one of the best aviation headsets for many years, Bose recently put the bar even higher with the new and improved A30.

The Bose A30 Aviation headset is perfect for noisy cockpits, where comfort is essential and communication is vital. It’s Bose’s best full-featured around-ear active noise-cancelling headset to date, 20% less clamping force than the A20, and a redistributed weight that offers superior on-head stability.

The Bose A30 Aviation Headset comes with Bluetooth, a new acoustic design, and fully digital active noise reduction (ANR), to improve its comfort and functionality, enabling pilots to have three modes of user-selectable noise cancellation.

Furthermore, the A30 has a tap control for talk-through communication and optional Bluetooth interface, making it versatile for pilots across all aircraft. Its toolless, side swappable boom mic and down cable, plus improved carry case with internal zippered storage and padded sides make it a great value for any pilot.

It is available with and without Bluetooth, as well as a choice of 4 different connectors, such as the Airbus 5-pin XLR and others.

weight: 14.2 oz / 402 grams

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Bose A20 Headset with Bluetooth (wired/wireless)

Bose A20 Aviation Headset with Bluetooth Dual Plug Cable, Black
2,332 Reviews
Bose A20 Aviation Headset with Bluetooth Dual Plug Cable, Black
  • 30% greater active noise reduction than...
  • 30% less clamping force than...
  • Clear audio with active equalization....

Another great option to consider is this noise cancelling aviation headset with bluetooth from Bose. This headset boasts being able to offer users 30% greater noise-reduction capabilities than average aviation head sets. It makes it so that things are much quieter, making it easier to focus. You’re also going to enjoy that this headset has 30% less clamping force than a typical pilot headset.

The combination of good features and comfort make this headset a very good choice. You’ll be able to enjoy clear audio with active equalization. The headset also has a Bluetooth audio and communications interface. You’ll even be able to use the customizable audio prioritization control to mute an audio signal when receiving a communication. 

Bose offers a 1-year general warranty (EU 2 years) and 5 year warranty on any non-powered speaker incorporated into the product. Bose is the only manufacturer which offers a choice of different plugs to suit any aircraft.

Yes, the Bose A20 headset is TSO-certified and meets all FAA requirements for safety equipment. It has been approved by the FAA for use in both commercial and general aviation aircraft.

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Yes, the Bose A20 headset is designed to be worn comfortably with eyeglasses or sunglasses. The ear cups are adjustable and feature soft interior padding for added comfort when wearing glasses. Additionally, the microphone boom of the headset can be adjusted for optimal sound clarity.

No, the Bose A20 headset is primarily designed for communication and does not contain audio features such as bass boost or surround sound that are common in consumer headphones. It also does not have a music setting, making it better suited for pilots’ communication needs.

The Bose A20 headset typically has a battery life of up to 45 hours, depending on how it is used and the type of device it is connected to. It also features an auto-shutoff feature which will shut off the headset after 4 hours of inactivity.

Yes, the Bose A20 headset is designed to protect pilots from loud noises, such as engine noise and wind turbulence. The headset features an advanced active noise reduction system which works to reduce outside distractions so that pilots can focus on their flight. Additionally, the headset is rated to provide up to an impressive 20 dB of noise reduction.

The Bose A20 headset comes with a two-year limited warranty, which covers any defects in materials or workmanship within that period. The warranty does not cover normal wear and tear, or damage caused by misuse. Furthermore, it is important to note that the warranty only applies to the original purchaser of the product.

weight: 14.5 oz / 410 grams

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David Clark DC ONE-X ENC Headset

David Clark DC ONE-X ENC Headset
291 Reviews
David Clark DC ONE-X ENC Headset
  • David Clark Headset Bag, (2) AA...
  • Weight (without cord assembly) 12.3 oz
  • TSO-C139a Approved

David Clark has earned a reputation as the premier brand of aviation headsets for a reason. This offering here is going to provide pilots with the most comfort possible during a flight. It doesn’t sacrifice comfort, but it still makes it possible to use state-of-the-art features. This headset features both Hybrid Electronic Noise Cancelling Technology and Bluetooth. It needs 2 AA batteries which are included in the box.

Being able to connect all of your smart devices to this headset is an important feature. You’ll also love just how good it feels with its plush leatherette ear seals and a vented heat pad. This is a headset that provides users with great technology while ensuring that they can feel relaxed the entire time that they’re wearing it. This product has rave reviews everywhere and is basically the standard for pilots. It comes highly recommended for its practicality and great features. 

weight: 12.3 oz / 349 grams

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Lightspeed Zulu 3 ANR (Best for General Aviation)

The Lightspeed Zulu 3 ANR headset has become very popular among general aviation pilots. This offering from Lightspeed includes an active noise cancelling technology, which is great for blocking out those low frequency engine noises that can be so distracting. It’s also bluetooth enabled and uses rechargeable batteries.

You’ll also find that the comfort level of this headset is quite high. It has ultra-soft leather ear cushions and a lightweight headband, so you won’t feel uncomfortable after hours in the sky. There’s also an integrated sidetone feature, which lets you hear your own voice inside the headset. This is one of the most popular headsets for general aviation, and it comes with a seven-year warranty.

Weight: 10.6 oz / 300 grams

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The Lightspeed Zulu 3 headsets are proudly made in the USA. The headsets are designed and engineered in San Francisco, California and then hand-assembled at a facility in Everett, Washington. This is where quality control is also performed to ensure that each headset meets their high standards of quality and performance. Additionally, the plastic components for these headsets are made in the USA as well.

The Lightspeed Zulu 3 headset is powered by two AA batteries and can last up to 40 hours on a single charge. Additionally, the headset has an auto shutoff feature that will turn off the headset if no activity is detected for five minutes in order to preserve battery life. The Zulu also offers various optional charging options like power supplies and USB cables. The headset also comes with an LED battery life indicator that will alert you when the batteries need to be replaced.

Lightspeed Sierra ANR (Best for Comfort)

Sierra ANR Aviation Headset with Bluetooth
440 Reviews
Sierra ANR Aviation Headset with Bluetooth
  • Auto Shut-Off
  • Battery status indicator
  • (2) AA Batteries - 40 hours of operation

The Lightspeed Sierra ANR headset is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a comfortable and lightweight headset. This headset features Hybrid Electronic Noise Cancelling Technology that allows you to enjoy crystal clear conversations in even the noisiest of environments. It also has a low-profile design, so it won’t feel bulky or intrusive while you’re flying.

The Sierra ANR also boasts comfortable memory foam ear cups and a lightweight headband, making it great for long flights. It’s Bluetooth enabled and comes with rechargeable batteries that last up to 30 hours. This is an excellent headset for those who want comfort as well as great audio quality.

Weight: 8.8 oz / 250 grams

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Let’s talk differences between Zulu 3 and Sierra headsets. To start, the construction sets them apart. The Zulu 3 has limited plastic, while Sierra uses a fiber-reinforced polymer. This makes the Sierra more affordable, but its ANR isn’t as good as the Zulu 3. Additionally, the Zulu 3 comes with a seven-year warranty and several plug configurations, while the Sierra only has a five-year warranty and is dual GA only. The Zulu 3 also stands out with its Kevlar reinforced cable while the Sierra’s cable is the more common PVC cover.

Bose ProFlight Series 2 Aviation Headset (Best In-Ear)

Bose Proflight Series 2 Aviation Headset with Bluetooth Connectivity, Dual Plug Cable, Black
370 Reviews
Bose Proflight Series 2 Aviation Headset with Bluetooth Connectivity, Dual Plug Cable, Black
  • Proflight Series 2 includes a thinner,...
  • Product Note : If the size of the earbud...
  • Engineered for pilots of moderately...

The ProFlight Series 2 aviation headset is the quietest, most comfortable, and smallest active noise-cancelling headset in the industry, perfect for commercial and airline pilots flying pressurized turbine-powered aircraft.

Updates to the ProFlight Series 2 include a thinner, more flexible cable, Winglets to assist with mic alignment and adjustment, and an improved carrying case for easier transportation and storage.

With a uniquely comfortable and stable design weighing only 4.5 ounces (128 grams) on-head, ProFlight Series 2 provides advancements to its technology and features based on feedback from the aviation community.

This in-ear pilot headset also has three selectable modes of active noise cancellation and equalization and now features updated tap control for communication. Get ready to experience exceptional satisfaction by choosing to upgrade to ProFlight Series 2, the most innovative headset from Bose yet.

weight: 4.5 oz / 128 grams

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FARO AIR In-Ear Aviation Headset Premium Pilot Headset

FARO AIR in-Ear Aviation Headset Premium Pilot Headset - Compare with ClarityAloft, Black
55 Reviews
FARO AIR in-Ear Aviation Headset Premium Pilot Headset - Compare with ClarityAloft, Black
  • Lightweight, only 1 oz.Note : If the...
  • ANR-like performance with up to 50 dB of...
  • Auxiliary / Music Input

You are going to find that this headset from FARO is similarly comfortable when compared to the Bose offering above. This is another lightweight in-ear headset, and this one only weighs one-ounce. You’re going to be able to enjoy up to 50 dB of noise reduction when you’re using this headset. It also has great auxiliary input options and audio input options. 

The ear tips of the faro have been designed to be replaceable for your convenience as well. You’ll be able to swap them out if necessary, and they’re made using slow-recovery foam. The faro headset gives you crystal clear audio, and it’s adjustable for every size. Adjusting the volume using the included volume controls is also very intuitive, so you’ll have an easy time making use of this to its full potential. 

weight: 1 oz / 28 grams

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David Clark H10-13.4 Aviation Headset (Best under $500)

David Clark H10-13.4 Aviation Headset
803 Reviews
David Clark H10-13.4 Aviation Headset
  • Super Soft, Double Foam Head Pad
  • New Comfort gel, undercut ear seals
  • Universal Flex Boom for perfect...

If you’re hoping to find a headset that is high-quality without having to spend a lot of money, then the David Clark H10 headset is one of your best options. This is another David Clark headset, and you know that it’s going to be a premium experience. This headset has a super soft double foam head pad. It also makes use of a new comfort gel for the ear seals, and it feels really nice to wear this. 

The David Clark H10 is going to give you access to a great universal flex boom mic that allows you to place it in a perfect position. You’ll be able to use the exclusive M7-A advanced noise-canceling microphone. It even has a low-profile volume controls knob that has detent settings. This offers you a great mix of value, comfort, features, and reliability, making it worth your consideration. 

The most common David Clark headset is the H10-13.4, which is a passive noise reduction headset with dual volume control and adjustable mic gain. This model also includes a built-in Bluetooth module for wireless communication and audio playback, making it ideal for aviation professionals. It is lightweight and durable, making it comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

The David Clark H10-13.4 is the most popular headset with Bluetooth capability. Other models like the H10-20X and H12-20X also feature integrated Bluetooth modules, but they are not as widely used as the H10-13.4 model.
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KORE AVIATION KA-1 Pilot Headset with MP3 Support (Best under $200)

KORE AVIATION KA-1 General Aviation Headset for Pilots | Mono and Stereo Compatibility, Passive Noise Reduction, Noise Canceling Microphone, Gel Ear Seals, Adjustable Headband, Headset Bag
1,396 Reviews

There are going to be some student pilots who will want to be able to find the most cost-effective headset possible. This is an option that is worth your time, and it manages to keep the price under $200.00. You’ll be getting a comfortable headset that makes use of a premium gel ear seal design. It’s also capable of very good noise-reduction, having an NRR of 24dB for your hearing protection. 

You’ll be able to use the dual volume controls on each ear cup and it has a 3.55mm plug. Both mono and stereo are supported, and there is a built-in Y-block switch on the cable. It even comes with a convenient free carrying case.  You’ll be getting a good headset with solid features if you choose to buy this one. 

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Rugged Air RA200 General Aviation Pilot Headset with Noise Reduction, MP3 Audio Input

Rugged Air RA200 General Aviation Headset for Student Pilots – Features Passive Noise Reduction Adjustable Headband Full Flex Mic Boom and Headset Bag
  • Includes $18 Rugged Headset Bag at no...
  • Overall weight of Headset Only 16.24 oz.
  • Custom fit headband to adjust tension on...

Finally, you can also consider this cost-effective headset from Rugged Air. It offers you 24dB noise reduction to protect your hearing. There is also an EM56 noise-reflective cup microphone with a new flex boom. This is a very user-friendly aviation headset, and it feels simple to get things into your preferred position. 

You’ll also find that this headset is quite comfortable. It has foam ear seals that feel very natural while you’re wearing the headset. The 50mm performance audio speakers have great sound quality, and you’ll also be able to use the 3.55mm jack for music devices. This headset has been designed very well while still being able to keep the cost very low. 

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Types of Aviation Headsets

When you’re taking the time to choose an aviation headset for yourself, there are going to be many different options. Before you make a final decision, you’re going to want to know the differences between the different types of earphones on the market. There are many differences to consider such as the different types of noise-reduction technologies being used and the overall design of the headset itself, as well as convenience features such as audio input and easy volume control. Take a look at some of the different types of headphones on the market below. 

pilot headsets for kids
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Bose Aviation Headsets

Bose is one of the premier brands when it comes to headsets, noise-canceling headphones, and earbuds. It should come as no surprise that they produce some of the best headsets on the market as well. You’ll find Bose products listed above, and you can definitely count on this brand to offer some of the best earphones with stellar sound quality. This brand remains at the top of the aviation anr headset game, and they always seem to keep pushing noise-reduction and noise-canceling technology forward. 

Editorial Team by Alf Altendorf

David Clark Headsets 

If you want to buy a ANR headset from a trusted brand, then you should certainly consider buying one that is made by David Clark. David Clark is one of the best and oldest headset brands on the market, and they have earned a sterling reputation over time. They make high-quality products, and you can trust a headset that bears the David Clark name to be a great option. 

george h.w. bush wearing aviation headset
Editorial Team President George H.W. Bush wearing a David Clark headset

Noise Cancellation

As mentioned above, different headsets will make use of different types of noise-reduction technology. Noise cancellation is very important for pilots due to the need to protect their hearing. It’s also imperative that they’re able to hear instructions from the control tower. For this reason, buying a headset with high-quality noise-canceling capabilities will always be of the utmost importance. 

There are differences between the different types of noise-reduction or noise-cancellation processes being used in these headsets. The biggest difference that you’ll come across is which category of noise-reduction is being used in these headsets. There are three basic types that you need to be aware of, and they are PNR, ANR, and DNR. Examine the differences in how these work below to get an understanding of how the process works. 

PNR (Passive Noise Reduction)

The PNR headsets that you will find on the market are generally going to be the most cost-effective. These headsets make use of a type of foam in the ear cup that is capable of suppressing noise. It’s able to passively reduce noise levels by sealing away sounds that are coming from outside of your headset. In order for this to work right, it’s important for the headset to fit tightly enough. 

ANR (Active Noise Reduction)

Active noise reduction headsets work a bit differently because they actively reduce and cancel noises using electronics in the headset itself. Most of the ANR headsets that you’ll find on the market are battery-powered. They also make use of a filter to separate wanted signals from unwanted ones. The ANR headset is only going to block out frequencies that fall below 300Hz. 

As you might expect, an active noise reduction headset is going to be significantly more expensive than PNR ones. There is a lot more going on with the ANR headsets in terms of technology. Most ANR headsets are capable of achieving noise reduction levels that are between 10dB and 20dB. This is very significant, and it can make it so that things are so much quieter. 

DNR (Dynamic Noise Reduction)

DNR headsets are actually similar to normal ANR headsets. You see, these DNR headsets are basically more expensive versions of active noise reduction headsets that have an extra level of noise-canceling. The DNR headsets use digital electronics techniques to get rid of noises from your headphones. You’ll also find that DNR headsets are lighter than the average ANR headset, which can be an important consideration for many pilots and student pilots. 

When it comes to pure noise-canceling performance, DNR headsets can slightly outperform the ANR headsets. These headsets can reduce noise levels between 15dB and 25dB. They’re also capable of detecting and canceling noise signals up to 3,500Hz. These headsets can be pricey, but they can also be well worth the investment depending on your expectations or needs. 

best aviation headsets for kids
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Buying Considerations and Tips

Now that you know the basics of what you need to be looking for when shopping for an aviation headset, it’s time to start looking at other things to consider when buying. When you want to have the best experience possible, it makes sense to look at things from every angle. Consider these factors when you’re purchasing an headset to ensure that you have a good experience. 

About the Microphone

The microphone is another aspect of these headsets that you need to keep in mind. You see, having a good microphone is essential due to the fact that you need to be able to communicate with others clearly. If you have a headset with a microphone that doesn’t have any noise-suppression capabilities, then you’re not going to be able to enjoy clear calls or communications. Most microphones will come with a sort of windshield or foam padding, but this isn’t going to be enough to suppress noises by itself. 

If you want to have the best possible sound quality, then it’s a good idea to buy a microphone that has solid noise-suppressing capabilities. It should include some type of noise-reducing foam, and it would also be good for it to have a jacket over the foam. This can make the noise suppression of the foam more effective, and you’ll be able to communicate with greater clarity. Don’t forget that a high-quality microphone is every bit as important as good noise-reduction technology. 

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You Have to Pay for Quality

You might be tempted to try to save money by purchasing a headset that is inexpensive. There are some good budget options on the market. You can find some headsets that are under $200 listed above, and you’ll also find a good option that falls under the $500 range. Even so, you have to remember that you need to pay more to get a truly quality experience. 

If you aren’t willing to put down some money on a high-quality headset, then you can’t expect to have a premium product. The less a headset costs, the further it will be from something that is truly top-tier. If you want the best aviation headset possible, then you’ll need to be prepared to spend a bit of money. Don’t be afraid to invest in a good headset, as it can truly enhance your flying experience and make your life as a pilot easier. 

Test Headsets Out

It’s actually a good idea to consider testing headsets out before truly committing to a purchase. You can speak to most of your local pilot shops about what their return policies look like. This should present you with an opportunity to try something out to see if it’s a good fit for you. If you don’t like it, then you should be able to return the headset and find something else. 

Part of shopping for a comfortable headset is about finding the right model that will suit your needs. Don’t hesitate to try out several headsets. You might feel like you’re being picky, but you really do want to find something that is ideal for you. Don’t just buy the first headset that sounds good when you have the option to test things out to see which ones you like best. 

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Aftermarket Ear Seals

You might wind up finding a really good headset that simply doesn’t feel comfortable enough for you. This might seem like a wasted opportunity, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s actually possible to buy aftermarket ear seals to make things more comfortable. This is a smart way to increase your comfort levels while still being able to make use of the good features of a headset that might not have felt as natural as you’d originally hoped. 

Buy Used Aviation Headsets to Save Cash

If you’re working on a limited budget, then you might need to get creative. You don’t have to stick to the low-quality models that are available for lower prices. It’s actually possible to buy high-end headsets that are used. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a new headset, then this can potentially help you to save hundreds of dollars. 

Of course, not everyone is going to be comfortable buying a used product like this. It’s just something that you can consider if you want a good headset but need to keep your costs low. Most pilots do take great care of their headsets, so a used one might not be a bad fit for your needs. Consider your options and your budget before proceeding. 

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Get the Right Type of Microphone

The importance of the microphone was mentioned earlier on in this article. You’re also going to want to make sure that you buy an aviation headset that has the right type of microphone. You see, there are three different styles that you will encounter, and some of them work better with certain radios. Whether your microphone is dynamic, amplified dynamic, or electret will play a role. 

It’s a good idea to determine which type of microphone works best for your radio before making your purchase. You want your communications and calls to be as clear as possible. For this reason, you should do your research ahead of time so that you can make a smart choice. This can make quite a difference, so don’t neglect to consider which type of microphone is included with the headset that you’re looking at. 

Your Comfort Is Crucial

Your comfort while flying is absolutely crucial when it comes to buying a headset. You can purchase a high-quality headset that has the most amazing features and then find out that it isn’t comfortable at all. Think about how often you’re going to be wearing this headset. You’ll be using this all the time, and you don’t want to have to suffer through wearing a headset that is tough on your ears or neck. 

There are many things to consider when thinking about the comfort of a headset. You need to consider how the ear cups feel, and you also need to think about the weight of the headset. If the headset is too bulky for you, then it could wind up causing your neck to cramp up. You don’t need distractions like this while flying, so choosing a comfortable headset is highly recommended. 

Make sure that you can comfortably wear your sunglasses with your headset as well.

bose in ear aviation headset
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In-Ear or On-Ear Headsets

Some people are going to find in-ear headsets to be more comfortable and less bulky than on-ear options. It’s important to note that the on-ear headsets are the most prevalent in the industry. These offer more options and brands to choose from. Even so, there are many high-quality in-ear aviation headsets on the market as well. 

One positive about buying earbuds is that these are usually very lightweight. If you worry about a headset being too bulky, then an in-ear headset might be right for you. This is a choice that really comes down to personal preference. You might want to try both out to see how you feel before making your final purchasing decision. 

FAQ about Aviation Headsets

Aviation headsets are typically more expensive than consumer headphones due to the additional features they offer. Aviation headsets must meet strict FAA requirements for safety and communication clarity, which means that their construction is much more complex than consumer products. Additionally, aviation headsets often come with noise-cancelling technology and other features like Bluetooth connectivity, adding to their cost.

Airlines may provide a headset for pilots free of charge from their company, however, they do not usually pay the upfront costs. Pilots should check with their airline to find out if this is the case and what kind of headset they offer. Alternatively, pilots can purchase their own headset that meets all FAA requirements.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires pilots to use TSO-certified headsets for all flights, regardless of aircraft type. The Technical Standard Order (TSO) is a certification standard that sets the minimum requirements for aviation safety equipment, including communication headsets. By using TSO-certified headsets, pilots are able to ensure their safety and provide communication clarity in the cockpit.

It is not recommended for airline pilots to listen to music while flying as it can be a distraction. The FAA has clear regulations on allowable distractions in the cockpit, and listening to music could be considered a violation of these rules. Additionally, headsets used by airline pilots are designed primarily for communication and may not have the features necessary for listening to music.

Pilots use a public address (PA) system to talk to passengers while in flight. When the pilot is ready to make an announcement, they will push a button on their headset or control panel which signals the PA system to turn on. The pilot’s voice is then transmitted throughout the cabin and can be heard by all passengers.

Military pilots typically use aviation headsets designed for the specific aircraft they fly. These headsets are designed with features such as built-in noise cancellation, comfortable fit, and adjustable volume control. Additionally, many military aircraft have their own unique headsets that are specifically designed for their onboard systems.
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