The average airside operations team works hard all the time. They have an enormous amount of responsibility and tasks that need to be completed before a flight is ready for takeoff, making communication key in this department.

Communication headsets are a vital part of an operation. They allow crews to communicate quickly, efficiently, and clearly while they work the runway. Airside operations involve the coordination and communication of many different people and departments.

If you’re considering using communication headsets for your airside team, this article is for you. We’re going to take a look at the ways headsets help airside operations. Then we’ll dive into how to pick the best communication headset for your needs and what features you should be looking for when shopping around.

How Headsets Help Improve Airside Operations

Protect Your Hearing

We all know a commercial aircraft is loud. A study measured the outside noise on an Airbus A321 aircraft and reported a decibel rating of around 140 dB during takeoff (source). It’s important to wear proper hearing protection devices when working around aircraft. Being around an aircraft every day can significantly affect your hearing over time if not protected.

We recommend wearing noise-canceling earplugs and headsets with a good enough noise reduction rating (NRR) to protect from hearing loss or tinnitus. The higher the noise reduction rating the better it is at reducing noise levels. You should look for devices with an NRR of at least 22 dB.

Clear Communication Amongst Team Members

Communication is key when working in teams. Airside crews need to keep connected to guarantee smooth operations for a safe takeoff. Questions can be answered quickly, status updates can be made, and personal or aircraft damage can be minimized, all by a push of a button.

Headsets can also help minimize any miscommunication, especially being in a loud environment. Headsets reduce the noise around you so you can hear and be heard clearly.

Quickly Respond to Emergencies

If an emergency arises, you can use your headset to give your team a heads up and resolve any issues fast. This helps prevent any unnecessary injury by letting your entire team know in real time.

Did you know that there are roughly 27,000 ramp accidents and incidents or one per 1000 departures, costing airlines worldwide around $10 billion a year? (source). Lets work to reduce and avoid as many accidents as we can.

Keep Everyone on Schedule

Flights are coming and going at all hours of the day. Airlines need to stay on schedule to keep flights and passengers on time to their destinations. In the event takeoff is delayed, communication headsets can be used across teams to get back on track.

No Need for Face to Face Conversations

Communication headsets allow aviation technicians a medium to communicate with the other team members that are located elsewhere at the airport.

Because airports are so busy — there isn’t time to coordinate face-to-face conversations; communication devices allow you to speak across teams quickly, ensuring critical information gets to the right team without delay.


What to Look for in an Airline Operations Headset

With so many options available for communication headsets, it can be confusing trying to find what you should be looking for. We've provided some recommendation of things you'll want to have in your headset.


Long bulky wires often get in the way of your work. Look for a headset with a built-in two-way radio or Bluetooth, to keep wire free.



More than likely, you’ll be wearing your headset for long hours of the day. You’ll want a  headset you’ll actually enjoy wearing. See what the headband and ear cushions are made of? Is it a soft, breathable material that won’t cause fatigue at the end of the day?



How many people are on your team? Is your headset able to connect everyone? Is there a limit to how many people can be on a channel? If the headset doesn’t accommodate everyone on your team, find one that will.


Half or Full Duplex

Duplex in headsets refers to the way radio audio is being transmitted when speaking. Full duplex means everyone can speak freely and you don’t have to wait for the other person to finish before you can begin talking, just like normal face-to-face conversation.

Half duplex is the opposite. This means you have to wait for the person on the other end to finish before you can talk.


Noise Cancelation

As mentioned before, airlines are one of the loudest workplaces. Your headset should have a noise-canceling microphone that cancels the sound around you, so you’re always heard.

Bonus points if the microphone is VOX, which means voice-operated transmission. This means it begins transmitting conversation whenever you start talking and stops when you finish talking. This is a great feature that lets you talk and work at the same time.


Battery Life

Airline operations employees typically work 8 hours a day. See how long the headset can run before needing to be recharged. Look for a headset with a guaranteed run time of at least 8 hours.


High Visibility (Hi-Viz)

Dense fog and darkness can obstruct views of airline workers. Many workers are required to wear hi viz vests so they can be seen day and night. Aside from the uniform, headsets can also be in hi-viz colors such as bright yellow, green, or orange. This lets you be seen by others no matter the environment.

Solutions from 3M

3M Litecom Pro III

3M Peltor Litecom Pro III in Green

The 3M Litecom Pro III headset comes with a built-in two-way radio for wireless communication with over 70 channels. Everyone on the same channel can hear radio transmissions so there’s no need to purchase two-way radios. Don’t worry, if you do have an existing two-way radio, they can still be integrated.

The battery life is around 11 hours so you can guarantee it will stay powered throughout your workday. It also comes with a noise-canceling VOX microphone for hands-free communicantion without the need to push to talk.

The headset has a soft padded headband for a comfortable fit. If you wear this all day long, you won’t feel much fatigue from it. Lastly, this headset also comes with Bluetooth functionality to connect to two mobile devices.

This headset is priced at around $1200 per unit.

3M Protac XPI

The Protac XPI, designed with airside operations in mind, is a hands-free, hearing protection, Bluetooth headset. This headset has environmental listening which lets you hear what’s going on around you while still protecting your hearing from loud noise.

It also has a noise-canceling VOX microphone, so you stay heard in noisy environments and stay hands-free.

This headset is priced at around $600 per unit.


3M Peltor CH-3

3M Peltor CH-3 Headset in Green

The CH-3 is yet another headset 3M suggests for airline operations. Paired with an FLX2 cable you can directly connect your headset to a radio or with an FL5006-02 adapter cable connect directly to the plane.

The headset is water and dust resistant with an IP rating of 68 so it’s protected if used in the rain. It also has a noise canceling microphone for clear speech around loud planes. The CH-3 is available in a bright yellow color to help with visibility in dark or foggy environments. Lastly, like the other headsets mentioned, it has a flexible headband for all-day comfort.

Unfortunately, this headset does not come with a built-in two-way radio or have Bluetooth. It’s meant to connect to an external two-way radio and provide hearing protection.

This headset is priced around $200.00, the cheapest of the 3 mentioned here.


Airline communication headsets are a cost-effective way to keep staff focused on their jobs while at the same time protecting them from hazardous noise. They allow clear communication across the workplace so workers can make the most of their time, stay aware of what is happening around them, and best of all-do so safely.

For over 20 years, First Source Wireless has been an authorized dealer of the largest names in the critical communications industry. Have a question about how headsets can help your airline operations team? Get in touch with us by phone 800-806-1076, via email or via live chat.

TAYLOR THOMAS is a Marketing Manager at First Source Wireless. With her experience in critical communications, she helped public safety professionals enhance their communication through the help of two-way radios and headsets.

AirplanesAirport radio communicationsAirport tarmacAirside operationsCommunication headsetFlightcomm headsetsFull duplexIndustrial bluetooth headsetsTeam communication headsetsTwo way radio headsetWireless communication headset

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