When it comes to aviation gear, there is no more personal choice than a headset. What fits perfectly for one pilot may feel like a vise to another. Bose has been a comfort and technology leader since it first developed active noise-attenuating headsets 30 years ago. Its latest offering builds on that legendary technology and leverages the one thing about headsets that all can agree upon: Lighter is better.
The Bose ProFlight Series 2 is the follow-on product to the ProFlight model introduced in early 2018. Especially designed for those flying in turbine cockpits, ProFlight is a major departure from the more traditional over-the-ear headsets normally associated with Bose and most other manufacturers. Weighing only 4.5 ounces (about 0.4 ounces less than the original ProFlight), it is featherweight and rests comfortably on top of the head, supported in part by two boomerang-shaped swiveling pads that sit behind and just above your ears. Eartips go inside your ear canals, providing a certain amount of passive noise attenuation. However, Bose active noise-attenuating technology then steps in to further quiet the din of the wind and engine noise.
The unit is TSO certified, so it is permitted for use in airliner cockpits, which is a major market for this lightweight headset. However, because airline pilots are often not allowed to use Bluetooth devices in the cockpit, there is a model without that feature, which costs $996, $50 less than the Bluetooth model at $1,046. You can choose from traditional dual-plug GA connectors, a six-pin LEMO connector, or a five-pin XLR connector.
Among the changes for the Series 2 model is the slightly lighter weight, mostly because of a thinner wire running from the headset to the control box. Users of the original model had complained that the larger, stiffer cord caused the headset to move around too much as the pilot moved. The lighter cord reduces that likelihood, although it still happens to a certain extent. It can be helped by the strategic placement of the dual clips on the cord to ensure a certain amount of slack from the top clip to the headset, allowing you to move your head freely.
The unusual form factor takes some getting used to. First off, putting on the headset takes some time. This isn’t something you just slide over your head and go. Getting the eartips inserted into your ears takes a minute—and getting them placed correctly is critical to having the best experience. The fit is so critical that Bose supplies three sizes of eartips so you can have the best fit possible.
Once positioned correctly, the noise attenuation does an admirable job of defeating the noise in a jet cockpit. We tried it on several flights in a Citation M2 and found it to be comfortable. There is no volume control for the radio or intercom input. That must be controlled through the panel. The volume control for the Bluetooth input is on the side of the control box. We found it necessary to turn the radio and intercom volumes up to higher settings than we use when wearing a more traditional headset.
The electret microphone is easily positioned and can be moved from the left to the right side easily. And, as you might expect from Bose, the audio sounds great.
The cleverest feature is the tap control for talk-through communication. This was a new feature on the original ProFlight and has been improved on the Series 2. Tap control allows you to turn off noise attenuation on either ear individually by double-tapping an eartip—or really anywhere on or near your ear. It is the pressure change that causes the system to shut off the attenuation in that ear. The feature makes it easy for the left-seater to turn off the attenuation in the right ear, for example, to speak to a passenger or other crew member who steps into the cockpit. Double-tap again to turn the attenuation back on.
We also tried the system in a Beechcraft Bonanza and went into it skeptical that such a lightweight headset with the eartips would knock out the rumble of a big-bore Continental only a few feet away. We were wrong. In fact, the headset is surprisingly effective in the noisy piston-powered cockpit. It is definitely louder than an over-the-ear noise-attenuating headset, but for those desiring a lightweight headset and the freedom to easily put on and take off sunglasses—plus missing out on “headset hair”—the ProFlight is one to consider.
Bose includes a five-year warranty on the ProFlight Series 2. You can find them at Bose dealers, including many brick-and-mortar pilot shops and most online pilot stores. Some offer 30-day trial periods, so you can see how you like it.