If you plan to log any significant number of hours in the air, a high-quality aviation headset is well worth the investment. But once you’ve picked the best model for your needs and budget, it doesn’t stop there. A well-built pilot headset will last for years or even decades if you care for it well. That’s where accessories come in.
When your headset is due for a refresh, don’t jettison the whole thing. Simply replace the parts that have worn out. It’s better for the environment and your wallet.
Wish you could record your cockpit audio, connect with your ICOM transceiver, or listen to music even though your headphones don’t have Bluetooth capability? All that is possible with headset adapters.
Pilot headset accessories make it easy to replace worn parts and to add extra high-tech functions to your existing headset.
Not sure what’s possible or where to start? Here are our picks for the most useful pilot headset add-ons:
1. Microphone Windscreen
The foam microphone windscreen is one of the first headset parts you will probably need to replace. These small foam sheaths slide over the end of boom mics. They help improve communication clarity by reducing the background noise of wind and other ambient cockpit sounds during transmissions. Since they are mode of foam, windscreens also degrade over time.
Microphone covers are sized based on shape as well as the internal and external diameter. Some are interchangeable, but a model-specific replacement will give the best fit. Some wind screens come with just the foam mic muff, and others include a rubber grommet.
Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to keep a few extra “mic covers” on hand in case your original one slides off and gets lost.
2. Ear Seals
Over time, your headset’s ear seals degrade. Depending on the material, they can get brittle, start flaking, or become deformed. The doesn’t mean your headset is toast though. Replacement ear seals are an easy way to make old headsets feel and perform like new. You may even be able to upgrade to a more comfortable material like breathable protein leather or a temperature sensitive foam and gel combo.
Pro Tip: The next time you put your headset on, remember to check the fit. Are the seals still form-fitting and comfortable or have they lost their shape? Are your leather seals starting to flake and peel? If so, it’s time to order replacements.
3. Headset Headband Cushion
During long flights or back-to-back short hops, your headset might start to pinch and hurt. One of the best ways to make a pilot headset more comfortable is with a new headpad cover or headband cushion. Headpads fit onto your headset to relieve hot spots and pressure points, so you don’t feel like you want to sling your headset across the cockpit by the time you land.
Pro Tip: Covers come in a few different materials including sheepskin, wool, leather, and foam. All provide extra cushion, but some pilots prefer the feel of one material over another. Put some thought into your choice since you’ll be wearing the material for hours at a time.
4. Headset Hygiene Kit
We’ve already covered the replacement windscreen covers, ear seals, and headband cushions, but so far, we talked about each of them separately. If your trusted pilot headset has been with you a long time and is due for a full refresh, a headset hygiene kit is the way to go. Save money and extend the life of your headset. Bose, David Clark, and Lightspeed all make multi-item kits with replacements for the headset parts that wear out first.
5. Headset Plug Adapters
Most general aviation (GA) aircraft use twin plug headset jacks, but if you’re going to be flying other aircraft, you may need helicopter adapters, military adapters, or Airbus adapters.
The best option is to confirm the plug type of the aircraft you most often fly, then buy the matching headset. Add adapters as needed when you branch out into other aircraft. This saves you the cost and logistics of buying and carrying multiple headsets.
6. Headset Plug Extension
Is your headset plug so far across the cockpit that the cord barely reaches and you feel like you can barely turn your head without yanking it out? If this sounds familiar, it’s time for a headset extension. Just like a USB extension for your phone charger, a headset extender lengthens the reach of your cord. The Pilot USA headset extension gives you an extra 5 feet of length.
7. Cell and Music Adapters
Let’s say you don’t have the budget for a high-end pilot headset with Bluetooth connectivity. Or maybe you bought your headset years ago and aren’t ready to upgrade, but you’d still like to try out some of the more modern features. Good news. You can bridge the technology gap with a Pilot USA BluLink II Bluetooth cell phone/music adapter.
Want the ability to record your in-flight communication to review later? Maybe you’re bringing your GoPro along and would like to add the audio overlay to your video? Those are options too.
A digital audio recorder adapter turns your smartphone or tablet into a portable cockpit voice recorder (CVR). All you need to do is plug your headset’s mic jack into one end of the adapter and plug your phone or tablet into the other end. The adapter works with both Android and iOS devices. It’s a great tool for student pilots and CFIs to use for reviewing and debriefing after training flights.
Capture your flight audio and integrate it with your video footage thanks to a digital video recorder adapter, available for both general aviation and helicopter headsets. This adapter pairs with audio/video recorders that use a stereo mic input. It reliably captures your headset audio while eliminating unwanted cabin and engine noise. This is a must-have item for anyone who records flight videos whether to post online or for personal memories.
8. Push to Talk (PTT) Switch
Constantly reaching for a hand mic gets old, especially when you’re flying in crowded, controlled airspace. You need to be free to both focus on flying and respond to ATC. Juggling a mic just doesn’t fit into that equation.
The solution is a Push-to-Talk (PTT) switch headset add-on. The small switch uses Velcro to attach right to the yoke, so you don’t even need to lift your hands to talk. Plus, set up is easy. Just plug your headset’s mic jack into the port on the PTT switch, then plug the switch’s connecter into your aircraft mic jack, and you’re all set. This portable solution travels with you from plane to plane, making it perfect for renters and CFIs.
9. ICOM Transceiver Adapter
Pair your pilot headset with your ICOM A2, A20, or A21 transceiver with a special ICOM transceiver headset adapter. This adapter routes the handheld NAV/COM’s audio directly to your headset. It’s the perfect backup accessory to have on hand in case of panel radio or electrical system failure.
All you need to do is plug your standard headset jacks into one end of the adapter and plug the other end into the ICOM. There is also a port to add an ICOM push-to-talk (PTT) switch so you can keep your hands on the yoke.
10. Headset Bag
Your headset bag not only protects the investment you made in your headset. It also has room to carry important extras like spare mic windscreens, batteries, plug adapters, and more. The David Clark headset bag fits most standard aviation headsets. It’s made of a sturdy ballistic nylon that will stand up to the stress of years of flights.
Your headset is safely nestled in the center zip pocket, but there are two front zipper pockets for extra small gear items like pens, pencils, flashlights, and more. A larger back pocket can hold your logbook or a small tablet.
11. Eyeglass Temple Cushion
If you’ve flown with either sunglasses or prescription lenses, you know painful it can be when your headset pushes the arm of your glasses into the side of your face. David Clark has a solution with the stop gap eyeglass temple cushion.
This tapered cushion slides onto the arm of the glasses and helps reduce temple pressure while improving the ear cup to eyeglass frame seal. If you wear any kind of glasses while flying and you want to make it more comfortable, this is the headset accessory for you.
12. Portable Stereo Intercom
If you’ve ever flown with passengers and found yourself hoarse by the end of the flight from trying to yell over the engine noise, you’ll immediately see the value in an aircraft intercom system. Intercoms give you and your passengers an easy way to talk throughout the flight: a huge plus when sightseeing or traveling with family. Pilot USA offers an easy-to-use 4-Place portable stereo intercom system that is plug and play. It’s a perfect gift item that everyone will appreciate.
More pilot headsets and accessories reads we think you’ll like
- What the PLUG! A Guide to Aviation Headset Plugs
- ANR Aviation Headset Buyers Guide
- Passive Aviation Headset Buyers Guide
- 10 Best Aviation Headsets to Kill the Noise
It’s your turn
We’d like to hear from you. What are your favorite pilot headsets and accessories? How long have your had your headset, and what steps do you take to extend its life?