[Communication and noise. Speech intelligibility of airplane pilots with and without active noise compensation]

HNO. 1994 Aug;42(8):499-504.
[Article in German]


Noise exposure measurements were performed with pilots of the German Federal Navy during flight situations. The ambient noise levels during regular flight were maintained at levels above a 90 dB A-weighted level. This noise intensity requires wearing ear protection to avoid sound-induced hearing loss. To be able to understand radio communication (ATC) in spite of a noisy environment, headphone volume must be raised above the noise of the engines. The use of ear plugs in addition to the headsets and flight helmets is only of limited value because personal ear protection affects the intelligibility of ATC. Whereas speech intelligibility of pilots with normal hearing is affected to only a smaller degree, pilots with pre-existing high-frequency hearing losses show substantial impairments of speech intelligibility that vary in proportion to the hearing deficit present. Communication abilities can be reduced drastically, which in turn can affect air traffic security. The development of active noise compensation devices (ANC) that make use of the "anti-noise" principle may be a solution to this dilemma. To evaluate the effectiveness of an ANC-system and its influence on speech intelligibility, speech audiometry was performed with a German standardized test during simulated flight conditions with helicopter pilots. Results demonstrate the helpful effect on speech understanding especially for pilots with noise-induced hearing losses. This may help to avoid pre-retirement professional disability.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aircraft*
  • Audiometry, Speech
  • Ear Protective Devices*
  • Equipment Design
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel*
  • Noise, Occupational / adverse effects
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Speech Perception*