Bose, already famous for creating the first commercially available active noise-reduction headset in 1989 and the highly successful A20 ANR unit in 2010, just announced its ProFlight headset, aimed at professional pilots in the airline and corporate jet aircraft sector. The ProFlight is a radical change to ANR headsets since Bose’s newest product does not use conventional ear cups and weighs in at just 4.9 ounces, less than half the weight of the A20. The ProFlight is also configurable with three different ANR settings to match a variety of cockpit noise challenges.
The more cumbersome — to some critics — ear cups on conventional headsets have been replaced on the ProFlight with earbuds similar to those found in Bose consumer products like the SoundSport. The new headset uses a stable headband to bring all the elements together in a system pilots might almost not even notice they’re wearing. We tested the new ProFlight at Bose headquarters in Framingham, Massachusetts, and found that earbuds for aviation have improved significantly, no longer demanding the pilot jam the buds into their ears to make them effective. One reason the new earbuds wore comfortably is Bose’s StayHear silicone tips, which keep the buds in just the right location for maximum effectiveness.
The crown jewel in the ProFlight headset is, of course, that it’s a fully functioning ANR device, despite its tiny size, something the company believes will offer pilots the audio clarity they expect, with user-configurable ANR performance. Pilots will no longer need to remove one ear cup in flight to clarify what the person next to them just said thanks to ProFlight’s headset tap control, which allows pilots to select just the right strength of Bose’s acoustic noise-canceling technology. ProFlight also includes fully functional Bluetooth connectivity.
At $995.95, the ProFlight sells for the same price as the A20. The new ProFlight headset might not be everyone’s cup of tea, however, since it doesn’t offer quite as much noise reduction as the A20. Certainly, jet drivers will love the ProFlight, but whether a Cirrus or Meridian pilot will opt for a much lighter headset if it also means slightly less ANR, only time will tell. Bose began taking orders for the ProFlight at the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo, with first deliveries expected in the last week of May. Flying will soon test the ProFlight in action, so watch for an upcoming report.