Can the duplex capabilities be configured to your specific needs? The system should allow you to establish a hierarchy of who can talk to whom — especially who is allowed to talk to the flight deck or broadcast over the radio.
Is the system comfortable to wear and easy to use? Before purchasing, try on a headset. It should fit snugly, but comfortably over the ears. The controls should be easy to access and operate.
What is the Ingress Protection Rating? The Ingress Protection Rating measures protection against the intrusion of solids and liquids into an electrical unit. A headset should have a minimum rating of IP 65 when worn.
What is the range of the system? The greater the range, the more effective the system will be since obstacles and vehicles may reduce range. Look for a minimum 1,500-foot line-of-sight transmission capability, bearing in mind that system performance may deteriorate at the outer limits of the range.
What is the Noise Reduction Rating? Noise Reduction Rating or NRR is the decibel measurement indicating how well a hearing protector reduces noise. Look for an NRR of at least 24.
What is the temperature range? A system should operate within a temperature range of minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
What about warranty and service? Not all wireless headset systems are equally reliable and durable over the long run. Make sure the system is designed for your operating environment. Ask about warranty, repair and replacement policies, and try out the manufacturer’s technical support. A limited warranty of one or two years is standard; some manufacturers offer plans of up to five years.
Full-duplex wireless headsets leave the wearer’s hands free, provide freedom of movement and eliminate the wires that previously tethered ground personnel to an aircraft or belt pack.
Wireless communication systems are affordable. A single ramp accident can cost many times more than full deployment of wireless headset systems. Such systems could easily pay for themselves in less than a few weeks; the safety benefits are incalculable. As these systems become more widely deployed, they will likely reduce injuries and save lives every year.
About the Author: Michael Walsh is the director of business development for Flightcom Corporation and oversees wireless ground support communication systems worldwide. He works closely with major airlines, ground handlers and airports to provide customized solutions.