Aviation headphones are essential items for facilitating clear communications in general aviation (GA) aircraft. For maximum benefit, pilots should be sure to use a high quality model that will perform well in the rigors of the cockpit. An advantageous way to secure a capable earset is to share the cost with fellow aviators.
Sharing pilot headsets makes sense for a number of reasons. By dividing the expense, each user saves money and increases the utilization of any model(s) purchased. Splitting headset costs also allows users to purchase a higher quality model than any one of them might be able to afford alone. Earphone sharing is a plausible option if you’re part of a flying club or involved in a plane partnership. It might also make sense if you have family members, friends, or roommates who are GA fliers. For those beginning flight training, it might be wise to split a headset with a fellow student pilot as a way to control costs. Regardless of your exact situation, set up a few ground rules regarding headset sharing as a means to keep the arrangement peaceful and realistic.
Keep it Clean: When sharing a headset, be sure to keep it clean for your fellow users. This means wiping away any sweat, oils, hair, or other unpleasantries after each flight. In most cases, a damp cloth will do the trick. For female fliers, make sure you don’t leave any lipstick on the mic or makeup on the ear seals. Spend just a few minutes cleaning off the headset and your fellow pilots will appreciate the effort.
For ANR Models: For active noise reduction (ANR) headsets, the surest way to cause problems is to leave dead or dying batteries in the electronic noise cancelling (ENC) unit. If you notice any batteries are on their way out, go ahead and replace them for the next user. While you’re at it, make sure you contribute your fair share to the purchase of spare batteries. The last thing you want to do is incite an argument by forcing someone else to supply all the batteries. If necessary, devise a chart to track who should purchase the next round of spares. For wireless headsets, be sure to recharge the battery components when they’re low on power. Be thoughtful of your fellow users and they’ll more than likely return the favor.
Fly Multiple Planes? If you and your pilot pals operate more than one aircraft, devise a scheduling system for the use of each earset. Decide on a mutually accessible place to store your headphones and give as much notice as possible to avoid scheduling conflicts. In the event that a scheduling conflict arises, decide on a priority system (checkride, IFR, cross-country, etc.) when setting up your sharing arrangements. Above all, have respect for other users and be as considerate as possible when scheduling headset use.
If Stored in an Airplane/Hangar: Decide exactly how/where you’ll plan to store the earphones. If they’ll be left in a plane, will you leave them plugged in or wrap up the cords? While this might seem like a trivial issue, some pilots go nuts if a headset isn’t left in a particular way. In addition, will you leave them up front, in the baggage compartment, stored in a headset bag, or in some other location/manner? Discuss the details with everyone in the group to avoid hunting for headphones when it’s your turn to fly.
If you Need to End the Arrangement: For a variety of reasons, your headset-sharing arrangement will probably not last forever. People move away, cease flying, buy their own aircraft, and get tired of sharing with others. Regardless of the exact scenario, decide how your group will divide any headsets you own in common. Depending on the number of pilots/earsets in your group, you may be able to evenly divide the headsets among group members. If this doesn’t work, determine the reasonable value of your headphones and allow one member to buy the shares of the other pilots. Otherwise, you might want to sell your headset(s) and evenly split the sale price. Whatever you decide, try to keep the arrangement fair and amicable for everyone involved.
Sharing pilot headsets is a cost-effective method for multiple fliers to enjoy the benefits and protection of high-caliber aviation earphones. If you think you might benefit from a headphone-sharing arrangement, seek out other pilots you know and discuss your idea with them. Though not a feasible setup in all instances, headset sharing just might be the perfect way to enjoy affordable access to a great pair of pilot headphones.