Lightspeed Unveils ‘Safety Wearables’ Headset Series

 - September 7, 2022, 10:54 AM
Lightspeed's new Delta Zulu changes the parameters of aviation headset design with new safety and audio features. (Photo: Lightspeed)

Headset manufacturer Lightspeed today announced its newest headset, the Delta Zulu, which is the first of the Oregon company’s new line of “safety wearables.” Not just an active noise-canceling (ANR) headset, Delta Zulu adds new safety sensor capability and audio equalization to improve cockpit audio for pilots with hearing loss. Delta Zulu is priced at $1,099 and will begin shipping later this month.

The first sensor incorporated in the headset is Lightspeed’s Kanari “smart alert technology” for measurement of carbon monoxide (CO) levels. The headset’s audible alerts warn when it detects CO above caution and critical levels (10 to 50 and 50 to 100 ppm, respectively), but pilots can also view CO levels and history on the Lightspeed app.

With the HearingEQity audio equalization system, pilots can use the Delta Zulu headset and app on the ground to run through an automated 12-frequency hearing test. Once completed, the audio equalization system sets the hearing level in each ear cup “to create your individual hearing profile to compensate for any hearing variations between ears,” according to Lightspeed. Each headset can be set to multiple audio equalization profiles for more than one user.

“You take a hearing test with the headset,” said Lightspeed founder Allan Schrader. “You’re led through a sequence from 125 to 12,000 Hz in one ear then it switches to the other. As the processor encounters areas where you might have a deficiency, it begins to profile that and boosts the frequency where you have a deficiency. It’s crisping up your ability to hear. This will make quite a difference in your experience.”

Pilots can also use the Lightspeed app to record radio conversations, listen to radio call playbacks, save flight audio recordings for debriefing, and draw diagrams. Bluetooth wireless is included for cellphone communications, stereo music streaming, and audible alerts from aviation apps.

The new headset is available with plugs in dual general aviation, Lemo panel power, and U-174 configurations. It also comes with a universal accessory connector plug with connections for USB-A and -C, 3.5mm, and Apple Lightning (some are optional).

The included lithium-ion battery lasts about 30 hours on a charge but can be charged while using the headset. While spare batteries are available, the Delta Zulu headset can also run on AA batteries for 15 to 20 hours. Later this year, Lightspeed plans to offer a separate charger for offline battery charging.

Although the Delta Zulu headset retains the comfort features of the Zulu 3 headset, the ANR is improved with the addition of secondary “feedforward” noise cancellation, which adds more breadth to noise cancellation, according to Schrader. “Feedforward assists in canceling sounds much further out than analog ANR.”

Lightspeed isn’t yet offering helmet applications for the Delta Zulu series, and the new headset will not be submitted for FAA technical standard order approval. Lightspeed plans to add other new sensor features to the Delta Zulu safety wearables platform.