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Brian Jenner

Hearing Loss In Helicopter Pilots.

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Maybe I have lead a sheltered life, but if somebody had told me that there was something to be done about my wife's complaining, I would have done it years ago. So, at the risk of telling everyone what they already know, I offer the following testimonial.

 

For years I endured my wife harassing me - as I discreetly pushed the "volume up" from the steering wheel, she would immediately reach out and turn down the car radio! I set the TV volume, at a quite reasonable level, she would complain that it's too loud (she complained because, unlike the car, I control the TV remote and she would have to cross the room, to override my decision); and in various other circumstances she would tell everyone, within hearing and beyond, that I was most certainly deaf!

 

In my defense, I pointed out to that, as a pilot, I had my hearing checked regularly by a Transport Canada medical examiner. Nonetheless, I finally agreed to have my hearing tested by an licensed audiologist. The audiogram proved my wife was wrong! For the most part.

 

While the audiogram confirmed I could hear OK, well within the medical standard for pilots, it also explained why I had so much trouble understanding some of what I heard. I have mild, high frequency, hearing loss, which impairs my understanding of certain syllables. So, I miss a word here and there and while I'm searching for the word I missed, I loose a few more. Hence I often ask people to repeat themselves, especially in a crowd. Not a problem with ATC instructions, they are rather predictable and generally not in competition with other voices.

 

After the testing, the audiologist asked a few questions, particularly about my work history: 12 years and 5000 hrs as a helicopter pilot, followed by 25 years of debating with Transport Canada. She then informed me that helicopters are recognised by the Workers Compensation Board, as a source of work related hearing loss - apparently the damage is done in the first few years.

 

Long story short, even if your hearing loss is mild, todays high tech hearing aids can eliminate a lot of complaining by your wife and WCB will pay the +\- $6000 bill, over and over, ad vitam iternam.

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I still have people look at me questionably while I roll my thin yellow rubber thingy and put it in my ears...

 

You wear those even with a helmet? oh yes, my hearing is important to me, and I know many people who can't listen to their favorite band anymore due to broken hearing...

 

Use protection every time, all the time...

 

Cheers

H.

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Isn't that what a volume control is for,eh what?I had to take a training pilot for a flight and have him send a letter in to TC.I also have stuck more foam in my helmet to save what I have left.I have always worn a helmet but as mentioned anyone around a turbine engine will have hearing damage.I love the bose noise cancelling sytems.We have it in our newer 407 and are getting it for our older 407.They are awesome!

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I had an audiogram last winter to meet requirements to go to the diamond mines. I was sure I would have considerable hearing loss, having been around helicopters now for 11 years or so, and six years in the Canadian Forces Armoured Corps in my younger days. To my surprise, my hearing is still considered above average for all frequency ranges. The audiologist said the fact that I've always flown with ANR has probably helped a lot.

 

As for the fact that my wife blames my flying for me not hearing very well when she talks to me, we'll just leave it at that... ;)

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I'm not sure if my tinnitus is related to 6000 hours of flying but I suspect it is.

It was only after many years of flying that I saw somebody insert plugs in their ears

before putting on a headset or helmet.

Something to think about if you don't want to "hear" ringing in your ears for the rest of your life..

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I'm not sure if my tinnitus is related to 6000 hours of flying but I suspect it is.

It was only after many years of flying that I saw somebody insert plugs in their ears

before putting on a headset or helmet.

Something to think about if you don't want to "hear" ringing in your ears for the rest of your life..

I have had mild tinitus too, for at least the last 25 years. And it is quite likely related to my flying career. Most modern hearing aids can help. However, at +\- $6000 a pair, the point I want to get across to pilots is - you don't have to suffer insilence. The WCB will quite likely provide you with Hearing aids, even if your hearing impairment is mild.

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