Pilot Products

September 1, 1997

Pilot Avionics DNC Headset

Add one more reasonably priced active noise-canceling headset to this growing market segment. Pilot Avionics' new PA 17-76 Direct Noise Canceling headset, with a $599 suggested retail price (you'll likely be able to buy it for less than $400), does an admirable job of taming harmful noise and frequency levels and is also ergonomically friendly. AOPA Pilot staffers flew with this new headset for some 10 hours and found it both comfortable and quiet.

The only shortcomings we noticed involved the length of the headset cord and what appeared to be an audio gain setting that seemed on the high side. To put it bluntly — our cord was too short, and it would have been pulled taut had it not been for the fact that the cord has a coiled segment. Even so, the stretching of the cord was quite apparent and sometimes bothersome. Pilot Avionics plans to lengthen the cord on its next production run. The company made the cord easily removable from the headset so that it may be used as hearing protection in other high-decibel applications.

As for the quality of radio and intercom reception, the PA 17-76 was exemplary to a fault. With the headset's individual volume controls turned down all the way — and the intercom and radio voume levels down, too — we still were often blasted out of our seats by what seemed like especially loud transmissions. Pilot Avionics' literature suggests that the unit's Enhanced Voice Intelligibility circuitry may be to blame. This enhances all audio from outside transmissions or entertainment systems and minimizes garbled radio reception, the company says.

The unit is powered by a 9-volt, rechargeable nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery that is contained within one ear cup. The battery can be charged as many as 1,000 times and will provide enough life to drive the noise-canceling circuits for a total of 5,000 hours of use, the manufacturer says. Unlike conventional nickel cadmium batteries, NiMH batteries don't suffer from memory effects. These batteries can be charged at any time; they don't need to be fully discharged before topping off a charge, à la nicads.

Pilot Avionics says that it takes eight hours to charge the battery and that a charge will last for 10 to 14 hours of continuous use. An AC wall-socket charger is included.

A red push button on one of the ear cups is used to turn the noise canceling on and off. Our unit left no way to tell whether it was on or off unless the headset was in place over your ears. To address this problem, Pilot Avionics has already arranged to install a small red light emitting diode on future headsets to indicate that the ANR is turned on. A small control unit near the base of the headset cord contains volume controls for each ear and a small switch for selecting either stereo or monaural sound.

In all, the 17-76 seems as though it ought to give the higher-priced noise-canceling headsets a run for their money. With good attenuation; nice, soft ear cups; and an Oregon Aero sheepskin head pad for the chrome-domes among us, it's certainly worth checking out. For more information, contact Pilot Avionics, 10015 Muirlands Boulevard, Unit G, Irvine, California 92618; telephone 714/597-1012; fax 714/597-1049; Web site ( www.pilot-avionics.com) — Thomas A. Horne

Aearo Peltor 7005 Headset

By combining many of the better qualities of Aearo Peltor's model 7004 and 7006 headsets, the company is now offering its top-of-the-line 7005 passive-attenuation headset with selectable mono or stereo operation.

The 7005's flexible mic boom, lifted from the 7004, houses an electret microphone. The fully articulating boom is worlds above older Peltor models and is also superior to that offered on the 7006. Place the boom in the optimum position and it stays put. For in-flight dining, simply ratchet the mic up, down, or away a few clicks. When finished, click it back and the mic is exactly where you originally placed it. The only nit to pick here regards the ratcheting noise which was loud enough to break the squelch on the intercom.

Individual volume controls mounted on each ear cup, borrowed from the model 7006, are awkward for the first-time user because they turn in opposite directions. However, according to Peltor, the feature has been very popular with pilots who have imbalanced hearing.

Long-term comfort of the 7005 is admirable, thanks mostly to its light (13.2-ounce) weight and good noise attenuation. On a six-hour nonstop flight, the 7005 yielded no headache or other side effects that may come from a vise-like fit or poor noise attenuation. Peltor claims a 26-decibel noise reduction.

Peltor's latest offering retains the lightweight, compact folding design and overall good performance of the company's previous offerings. However, the new mic and individual volume controls take the 7005 to the next level of convenience. Although the 7005 lists for $335, it can be purchased through dealers for approximately $220. For more information, contact Peltor, 90 Mechanic Street Southbridge, Massachusetts 01550; telephone 800/327-6833. — Peter A. Bedell

Briefly Noted

Tired of the many slips of paper containing weather, clearances, and calculations floating around the cockpit during an IFR flight? Loren Soergel has introduced the Reusable Supreme Flight Planner, a laminated 8.5 X 11-inch card that gives the pilot the ability to keep nearly all relevant flight information in one place. Using an erasable marker, you can jot down items and then remove them by simply wiping the card with a moistened finger or cloth. Significant items from the preflight weather briefing, including winds aloft, can be neatly laid out in an easy-to-read format. A flight planning form is also included. On the reverse side are spaces in which to calculate weight and balance, fuel burn, checkpoints, to/from radials, and many other items that you are sure to encounter on an actual flight. The Reusable Supreme Flight Planner is available for $16.56 including shipping and handling. For more information, contact L&J Innovations, 1008 East Wilson, South Haven, Michigan 49090; telephone 616/637-5391. — PAB

Are your acrylic windows crazed or scratched? Clearfix Corporation offers an Acrylic Restoration Kit and says that it can restore such windows to nearly new condition through a simpler and less-expensive process than present on-aircraft repair methods or window replacement.

Clearfix's three-step kit comes with all of the material needed for a restoration except for a power drill or buffer. Two different buffer pads and polish solutions are provided, for heavy and light polishing duties. Clearfix says that its process and solutions do not harm window seals, aluminum, or paint and do not react with deicing fluids or aircraft cleaning solutions.

Clearfix offers two sizes of its Acrylic Restoration Kit. To repair 3 to 4 square feet of acrylic, the kit lists for $45. For 10 to 13 square feet, retail price is $129. For more information, contact Clearfix at Post Office Box 806, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110; telephone 800/922-3472 or 801/355-1110. — PAB

One of the more daunting tasks in flying is maintaining efficient and effective communications. As you get more experience, the task becomes second nature. But, if you're like many pilots, this hurdle can be hard to leap. A publication titled VFR Radio Procedures in the USA will help both fledgling pilots and the well-seasoned veterans who've avoided entering busy terminal areas for some time. The guide covers VFR communication procedures for arrival, departure, and en route phases of flight in Class B through G airspace, as well as terminal radar service areas. The book also discusses procedures for communicating with flight service stations and air route traffic control centers. Actual dialogues are plainly written and help the reader to practice efficient radio calls. There are also many tips on entering traffic patterns at uncontrolled fields,as well as memory joggers for the VFR pilot. Canadian pilots can obtain a sister publication titled VFR Radio Procedures in Canada. Either book is available for $7.95 plus $2 for shipping. For more information, contact RMC Inc. at 905/796-3066. — PAB

National AirParts of DeLand, Florida, now offers an alternator conversion STC for Cessna 310 and 320 model twins. NAP's conversion, which utilizes two 70-amp N300 alternators, weighs 30 pounds less than the bulky generators originally used in the twin Cessnas. For simplified installation, the kit makes use of the original generator mounting bracket. Installation of the kit typically requires six to eight hours of labor, according to NAP. The alternators are warrantied for two years or 600 hours. List price is $2,785 for the conversion kit; AOPA members receive a 10-percent discount. For information, call 800/713-1111 or 904/734-3365. #151; PAB

Boundary Layer Research of Everett, Washington, has obtained a supplemental type certificate allowing for the installation of vortex generators on piston-powered de Havilland Beaver aircraft. The $2,450 kit consists of four miniature delta wings that attach to the leading edge of the wing. They produce large vortices that delay the outward propagation of the stall, increasing the angle of attack at which the airplane can fly and thereby lowering the stall speed. BLR says the VG kit is intended mostly to tame the undesirable stall characteristics that Beavers have. In addition to the delta-wing VGs, small tabs are arranged in pairs to excite the airflow over the ailerons at high angles of attack in order to increase aileron effectiveness. For more information, contact BLR at 800/257-4847 or 206/353-6591 or visit the company's Web site ( www.blrvgs.com). — PAB

Icarus Instruments, located in Baltimore, has introduced a new version of its AltAlert 3070, the AltAlert 3070G, an altitude alerter that also acts as a GPS annunciator to give aural and visual annunciations of GPS status. The 2.25-inch round gauge lists for $995. The GPS option adds $295. For more information, call Icarus at 410/799-9497. — PAB

Vintage Northwest of Portland, Oregon, has introduced its Golden Flight Edition of aviation-themed stationery depicting 1950s-era aviation charts on the front of high-quality notecards. Each set of five or 10 cards depicts a chart from one of 26 major metropolitan areas in the United States. The cards retail for $6.95 for a five-card set or $12.95 for a 10-card set. To order, call 800/291-4712 or 503/668-6412. — PAB

Sporty's Pilot Shop is now offering a voltmeter that plugs into an aircraft's cigarette lighter to give a digital readout of system voltage to the nearest tenth of a volt. The voltmeter is compatible with both 12- and 28-volt electrical systems and lists for $14.95. To order, telephone Sporty's at 800/SPORTYS or 513/735-9000. — PAB

Unless otherwise stated, products listed herein have not been evaluated by AOPA Pilot editors. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors. However, members unable to get satisfaction regarding products listed should advise AOPA. To submit products for evaluation, contact: New Products Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701; telephone 301/695-2350.