Flight Evaluation of the Communications Earplug in the OH-58D Helicopter. Part 1. Research Report
ARMY AEROMEDICAL RESEARCH LAB FORT RUCKER AL
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Aviators assigned to OH-58D helicopter operational units participated in an expanded field assessment of the communications earplug CEP. Characteristics of the CEP have been determined through laboratory and field testing over the past several years. Results of the laboratory studies showed that aviators were protected and provided with speech communications capability. The CEP is a low-cost and simple approach that is readily available for immediate fielding. During FY 98, Project Manager-Aircrew Integrated Systems PM-ACIS purchased enough CEPs to outfit all aviators currently assigned to OH-58D operational units. The objective of the purchase was to form a large sample of users for evaluating the effectiveness of the current CEP configuration in solving the problems associated with hearing protection and communication in the OH-58D helicopter. The acceptability of the CEP was assessed by comparison with the helmet systems currently used in the OH-58D helicopter. Comments and responses provided by the volunteers show that the CEP, with some modifications, is a substantial improvement over current systems. With improved cockpit communications, flying becomes less fatiguing and stressful. The CEP performs well during daily missions and is considered a viable solution to the problem of inadequate speech clarity and understanding in the Kiowa Warrior helicopter. Over 90 percent of the participants rated the CEP as having greater overall operational value than the aviator helmet as it is currently used. Aviators view the CEP as a viable solution to the communications problem and feel it should be fielded to all aviation units. Part 1 of this study presents the principal findings in summary form. Part II contains the data-set necessary to allow close inspection of individual subject responses.
- Protective Equipment
- Voice Communications