Updated: May 4
I was recently offered the opportunity to test the Comunica XNR headset manufactured by Comunica Industries International. Ralph Chesters visited me to personally deliver two test headsets and give me some information about them. He promised that I wouldn't be disappointed with them.
Initial Flight Test
The headset does not have an active noise reduction (ANR) system though Ralph claims that the noise reduction is very impressive and is still better than a Bose A20 in a Rotax equipped aircraft.
I tried the headset in the flying club's Flight Design CTSW which is equipped with a Rotax 912ULS and a Funke ATR833-II radio. It was connected with the standard twin plug GA type connectors, though it is available with a variety of different plugs. Coincidentally, Ralph uses the same type of aircraft with the same engine and radio so I considered this to be a very fair way to assess Ralph's claims.
I was about to perform a flying lesson so I took a backup headset for the student and myself just in case we had any problems in the air. There is always a certain amount of trepidation when using a headset for the first time. I must be able to communicate clearly with Air Traffic Control and the student and I've been let down by poor quality headsets in the past at the worst times.
Once the engine was started, I made a couple of small adjustments to the VOX setting on the radio and made sure that I could communicate with the student clearly. The noise reduction on the ground was very good and I was curious to see how it performed at higher power settings.
During take-off and the climb-out, I found the noise reduction to be exceptionally good. It actually caught me by surprise. In all honesty, it was better than my Lightspeed Sierra ANR headset and probably the quietest headset I've used. I haven't tried a Bose A20 so I can't comment on whether or not it the noise reduction is better.
They worked well in the cruise and my student commented that he found them to be comfortable. The audio quality was good with clear radio transmissions and the microphones worked well.
Ralph told me that the microphone is one of the best available. It is the AKG (Austrian BBC)’s outside broadcast dynamic microphone and it is used by Peltor in their professional headsets. He says that the microphones are extremely resilient, with some having served North Sea gas platform helideck crews for decades and still working fine. Though I did not test it in an open cockpit, Ralph says that they are extremely resistant to wind noise and cancels noise up to 8KHz which is better than the best Electret microphones.
Continued Flight Testing
I used the headset for a number of flights over a period of six days and remained impressed with its performance. It certainly made the cockpit a quieter place which helps with fatigue and leaves a good impression on first time flyers.
After a while, I did find the headset to be a little uncomfortable. The clamping effect is stronger than my Lightspeed Sierra but I don't think I would have noticed it had I not flown with the Lightspeed for a few months. As a flying instructor, I fly almost every day so I notice subtleties in the comfort of the headset that a student or private pilot may not.
I have certainly used headsets which have a much stronger clamping effect than the Comunica XNR and I would not describe it as excessive, but noticeable for a frequent flyer.
I did not have the headset long enough to comment on its reliability. All I can say is that the headset looks simple and robust.
My first impression of the headset was that the noise reduction would be average, but I was wrong. The noise reduction is exceptional and it caught me by surprise. My students enjoyed testing them and if I look for a passive headset in the future, I will probably purchase one of these.
The comfort levels were satisfactory for the average private pilot or student pilot, though pilots who fly everyday may want something high-end after a time.
Excellent passive noise reduction
Variety of options
Made in the UK
Great for students and private pilots
Available from mid-2020
QuizAero Rating 4.5/5
Are you learning to fly? Check out our online ground school and practice exams. Whether you are training for your NPPL, or the EASA PPL, check out what we have to offer and nail the exams first time! Click here.