In today’s wireless world, the GA cockpit has been playing catch-up, as Bluetooth and WiFi link panelware and personal devices. Now high-quality headsets have joined the movement with the debut of Lightspeed’s new Tango model. It’s the first ANR (Active Noise Reduction) headset to go wireless—and not a moment too soon. “Customers and pilots have been asking for wireless headsets for years,” says Lightspeed’s Teresa De Mers.
Rather than Bluetooth or WiFi, though, Tango operates wirelessly via Lightspeed Link, a proprietary protocol that ensures consistent voice signal quality and strength, robust enough to support up to six headsets in one cabin. (The Tango is both Bluetooth- and WiFi-enabled, so you can also listen to music from personal devices or make phone calls wirelessly.) The headset is light and comfortable, forms a snug seal around the ears, and the microphone is reversible.
Each headset comes with a Panel Interface, a stylish rectangular unit weighing just seven ounces that plugs into the aircraft’s standard mic jacks. Ergonomic volume controls are on the earpieces of the headset, large enough to manipulate with gloves on.
Unless you’re flying the Voyager, you probably don’t have to worry about battery life: The headset and Panel Interface are each powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can provide 12 hours of continuous operation. An auto shut-off feature powers down the headset and Panel Interface when not in use. Accessories include a battery charger, and the headset and Interface can be charged in flight, on the ground, or batteries can easily be removed for recharging by themselves.
The Tango is also compatible with Lightspeed’s free FlightLink app that turns an iPad or iPhone into a cockpit recorder, for checking ATC instructions or reviewing communications after the flight.
Priced at $800, this is the fourth headset in Lightspeed’s line, and response to the Tango has been “more than we expected,” De Mers said.