Part of the captain’s job is to recognize and reduce risks in the cockpit. Lightspeed Aviation, maker of some of the most popular headsets on the market, is helping pilots recognize and reduce risk with the introduction of the Delta Zulu headset. This Active Noise Reduction (ANR) Bluetooth headset gives the rider the ability to customize their hearing acuity using an app, and it also has a built-in carbon monoxide detector that provides an aural warning if there is CO present in the cockpit.
The Oswego, Oregon-based company describes the Delta Zulu helmet as a “safety wearable.”
An app makes it possible
Lightspeed Aviation has been producing ANR headsets since 1996. With each headset, the technology evolves. In the case of the Delta Zulu, the aircraft features Kanari smart alert technology which measures carbon monoxide levels in the cabin and issues an audible warning to ensure the safety of the pilot and passengers. The free Lightspeed app allows the pilot to also visually check CO sensor data during flight and review it later if desired.
The app also allows the headset user to adjust the device to meet the user’s hearing needs. Unfortunately, hearing loss is a common experience as pilots age and it is very rarely uniform in both ears.
To tune the headphones, the app uses a built-in audio equalization system called HearingEQity. The user engages in an automated 12-frequency hearing test (similar to that performed by an audiologist, where you are asked if you hear a tone) through the Lightspeed app. HearingEQity sets the level in each ear of the headset to match the individual hearing profile, compensating for any variation.
The Lightspeed app also has features that are likely to be useful in the training environment, such as the ability for the pilot to record radio conversations, playback transmissions, draw diagrams, and archive flight recordings. for the post-flight briefing. These records can be viewed on your phone or mobile device.
Lightspeed adds that “Delta Zulu features Bluetooth wireless technology with A2DP technology enabling cellphone communications and stereo music streaming as well as aviation app alerts”, so you can be entertained while maintaining a situational awareness on these long flights. Delta Zulu is also equipped with ComPriority, which automatically lowers the volume of any auxiliary device when there is a radio or intercom transmission.
For the pilot who uses numerous electronic devices during flight, Delta Zulu features an Ultra Accessory Connection (UAC) jack, allowing the user to connect to other devices directly from the headset for charging, data communications and auxiliary audio.
As high-tech and advanced as Delta Zulu is, the headset doesn’t need to be paired with a smart device to work, says Eric Landry, director of marketing at Lightspeed Aviation.
“But the app unlocks features and customization that help you expand your freedom of flight,” Landry says. “The headset will detect carbon monoxide without using the app. If the rider does not have an iOS device, using a friend’s iOS device for a one-time HearingEQity test will save the rider’s personalized hearing profile in its own Delta Zulu, and the Lightspeed app is no longer needed.
Carbon monoxide warning
Carbon monoxide, a byproduct of internal combustion, silently kills pilots. It can seep into the cockpit through cracks in firewalls, engine manifolds, or faulty door seals. Because it is odorless and tasteless, a pilot may not realize the danger until it is too late. Delta Zulu provides the pilot with an automatic aural warning, letting them know that CO is detected and how much it is relative to parts per million. As carbon monoxide increases, warnings become more frequent. Just an FYI reading of 10 to 50 parts per million will result in a warning caution level.
We test Fly Delta Zulu
I took Delta Zulu to the air last week to review it. The first thing I noticed was the comfort factor. Over the years, I’ve tried several full-coverage helmets. Like many pilots, I started my career with the David Clark helmet, suitable for student pilots, and eventually moved on to ANR designs.
The first test for the Delta Zulu: “Would the stainless steel headband interface well with my baseball cap which still has the button on top?” The answer was yes, he did. It was also one of the lightest aviation headsets I have ever worn. According to Lightspeed, Delta Zulu weighs 14.9 ounces and the headband was designed to follow the curve of the human head for “a more comfortable distribution of weight and lateral pressure.”
The next step was to adjust the ear seals. They are smaller than the David Clark or Bose headphones I have worn and tapered to fit the face of the wearer. I tried the headset with sunglasses on and sunglasses off – as that can make a difference in the fit of the headset – and in both cases the ear cups covered my entire ear and stayed in place even when I chewed gum. They were also comfortable enough that I didn’t really feel them for the 2.3 hours I was in the air.
Delta Zulu comes in silver with copper badges on the earcups – and that’s your only color option. Headset color probably won’t be an issue for most pilots – it certainly isn’t for me – because aviation headsets are all about hearing protection and situational awareness.
Talk to me, Delta Zulu
Activation and volume control on Delta Zulu are user-friendly. I appreciated the announcement at start-up, telling us that there was no CO leak in the cockpit. Headphone volume is adjusted with slide switches.
The microphone was easy to adjust and according to my co-pilot, as well as ATC, my transmissions were easy to understand. I didn’t have to make too many adjustments to get the microphone “just in the right place”, as can happen with other headsets.
I was impressed with the clarity of sound coming from the headphones. The transmissions were very clear.
The device also gives you an auditory update on the battery level. The headphones can be powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries or AA batteries in an easy-to-replace battery pack.
If you’ve ever accidentally left a battery-powered device and found the batteries dead when you returned, you’ll appreciate this: Delta Zulu features Lightspeed’s exclusive auto-off feature that saves battery life by automatically turning off the power to the headphones when the device is not in use. use.
Play well with others
Sometimes headsets don’t work well with other brands – for example, a few years ago I had the experience of trying a new-to-market headset from another company that didn’t work well with David Clarks, which at the time was the helmet of choice at the flight school where I worked. When I was wearing the new headset and the client was wearing domain controllers, there was an annoying, annoying high-pitched whine in the background. I was concerned that there was interference between the Delta Zulu and my co-pilot’s helmet, but there was no such thing.
Delta Zulu comes with a seven-year warranty, which is longer than other headsets on the market, and Lightspeed notes, “The unit is constructed almost entirely from stainless steel and magnesium with durable cables built around a Kevlar core.”
The only challenge I had with the Delta Zulu is that I would like to have a clip on battery box/headset interface. The unit came with a piece of velcro for a lanyard clip, but I’m not a pilot who likes to have anything loose in the cockpit. I like that relatively heavy items, such as my flashlights, survival tool, and helmet battery compartment, are secure. For the flight, I rigged a strap using a piece of parachute cord that I wear for such an occasion.
Accessories and price tag
Delta Zulu comes with accessories including a hard shell carrying case, which will be greatly appreciated if your headset has been damaged due to poor soft case protection and hostile gravity. Also included: a single-port wall charger, a lithium-ion battery cartridge, an AA battery cartridge, a UAC to USB-A cable, a Velcro lanyard shirt clip, and a set of custom icon chips so that you can distinguish several helmets.
Delta Zulu carries a $1,099 price tag and comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
“If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase for any reason, return the product for a full and prompt refund,” says Lightspeed. Delta Zulu is available in different outlet configurations: Dual GA, LEMO panel powered and U-174.