Is it possible to use normal headphones for passengers in a light aircraft?

I'm just finishing up my private license and am looking forward to taking some friends up in a Cessna 172. I've invested in a nice aviation headset for myself, but, as none of my friends are pilots, they don't have headsets of their own. Even the cheapest aviation headsets (at least that I've found) are around $100; friends going up for an occasional flight don't want to spend that kind of money, and I certainly don't want to shell out for several spare headsets. My question is, are there adapters available so that normal headphones could be plugged into a standard 2 jack connector? I have not been able to find any online. While certainly not too effective at reducing noise, this would at least give my passengers some comfort and would allow me to communicate with them without shouting during these short and infrequent flights. Worst case scenario, I could give them all earplugs, but it would definitely be helpful to have some kind of headset solution so that I'm not shouting through the sound of the prop and the earplugs and they're not shouting through my ANR. • Where are you getting your plane from? If its a rental or club-situation, they very likely have extra headsets for loan or cheap rental. Oct 17 '14 at 13:28 8 Answers There are some solutions to convert a normal set of headphones into an aircraft headset, but in total they are going to cost you more than a base level headset would. One popular (available in TSO and non-TSO options) option is UFlyMike which is an adapter for Bose noise cancelling headphones that adds a microphone and connects to a standard 2 jack airplane audio panel. But back to your issue at hand, this is not cheap. The UFlyMike will set you back around \$200 and the Bose headphones are another \$300, making this adapted headset cost a total of \$500. This is a bargain compared to an actual Bose aviation headset, which runs around \$1000, but is well above an entry level non-ANR headset. Your best bet is to ebay some old clamp style headsets (e.g. DC) to get some cheap headsets and then keep around your current headset when you eventually upgrade (unless those trade-up deals from e.g. Lightspeed are too hard to resist) to build up a stock. Alternatively, if you are renting, you may be able to rent a few headsets with the plane so everyone can be equipped for a trip. I'm not sure converting a regular set of headphones is the best solution. You need to be able to communicate effectively with your passenger and them with you, both for safety and for their comfort. In the short term see if you could loan a set from the flight school you are training with. Long term - there seems to be some good buys on eBay, old David Clarks etc... • This answer just came up in review (almost 5 years after posting) as flagged for length and content. Although useful, it doesn't seem to answer the question and is probably better as a comment. Aug 27 '19 at 15:00 There is a way to use ordinary headsets. It can be done like this: This is a picture of a normal headset jack for audio. Then you would need this (1/8 inch female to 1/4 inch male) adapter: Using this, you can get your passengers hear you and any communications you have with ATC or other airplanes etc. Personally, I do not like this approach. Reasons: • They cannot talk to you or reply you if you ask them anything. • Ordinary computer headsets don't reduce noise levels on an airplane. • You still need to buy an adapter which isn't commonly available at homes (like a headset). My recommendations would be: • If you are renting the airplane, the owner might have inexpensive headsets available for you to borrow. Flight Schools have many headsets as not all students buy their own in the beginning specially. • Flying is an expensive hobby. If you can afford it, you may buy a few extra headsets for$100 each.
• Ask your friends to buy their own if they want to be your frequent passengers. After all, you can taking them for a very enjoying ride without them paying you for it.

It is possible with the Avee microphone add-on. It is a great solution to upgrade your ANR as a aviation headset and the look is just awesome!

AUDIO

• Built in acoustic noise reduction (ANR) in the headphones
• Separate buttons for volume control making adjustments easy and fast
• Passengers can adjust their headset volume independently from the pilots headset volume
• Fully automated audio connection whether stereo or mono signal is available—no need to switch settings
• Microphone output level is automatically adjusted with the option to manually adjust if required

NO CONFIGURATION REQUIRED

• Complete the Avee connections with your headphones and aviation audio panel no additional setup required

FAILSAFE OPERATION

• System will continue to communicate and receive audio if headset battery power is lost

• Status LED located on the headset will flash red to identify if a cable connection loss has occurred
• Audio messages will be communicated if a cable connection is lost
• When headset battery power is low audio messages will be communicated at 10% intervals starting at 30% until all battery power is lost

SYSTEM TEST FUNCTION

• Ability to test all functions of the headset without connections to the aircraft
• Connect your headset to your PC or Mac via USB cable

WARRANTY

• 3 year limited warranty for the Avee Microphone Add-ons
• Welcome to aviation.SE! The link appears to be incorrectly spelt. Do you have any affiliation with the company, by the way? Apr 20 '18 at 19:56
• That product is even more expensive than spare headsets like the OP says Apr 21 '18 at 18:33

I did some brief searching and couldn't find any adapters, although there are plenty for the other direction, i.e. to use an aviation headset with a PC.

But in any case, using a regular headset would probably be a bad idea, even for short, infrequent flights. The issues are sound quality, lack of a microphone, and poor hearing protection.

First, you want to make sure that your passengers can hear you clearly for safety reasons. If you have to make an emergency briefing or ask them to assist you for any reason then you need to be sure that they can understand you immediately.

Second, you want to be able to hear your passengers so they should have usable microphones. I always brief mine to tell me about aircraft they see that I haven't already pointed out: I can't see everywhere and using my passengers as spotters is really helpful, but it won't work if I can't hear them.

Finally, aviation headsets protect your ears - either actively or passively - from the relatively loud background noise in the cabin. Normal headsets don't do this very well and certainly not well enough for a light aircraft cabin, so your passengers will probably end up feeling somewhat deafened and uncomfortable, which isn't good for anyone and means they'll be less likely to fly with you again.

I think the best thing you can do is just look for some cheap headsets. I've had one pair for 8 years and they still work just fine so the cost over the long term isn't so bad, although of course I know it can still be a big hit up front. \$100 isn't much at all when you consider the benefit you get from it. Alternatively most FBOs will rent you headsets for a few dollars per flight, but even then you can spend \$100 fairly quickly.

Today, I took a \$300-\$400 (depending on sale) Bose 700 consumer headset into a Vans RV6A with the Lycoming O-360. I compared it in the same airplane to a Lightspeed Sierra $650 ANR headset whilst engine running. This is not a gimme comparison. The Sierra is very good. The Bose 700 was definitely not any worse than the Lightspeed on headphone noise cancellation. The 700 does have a smaller ear cavity, it seems more fragile, and by the time one adds one of the$250 aviation-adapter microphone to it, it costs the same. But it is not an inferior hearing solution and it is lighter and more comfortable.

YMMV.

I do wonder why no one has a cable or Blutooth adapter that just uses the built-in MIC on consumer headsets. (Now the MIC may not work because the ambient noise is very loud.) In any case, \$250 seems pretty steep for a simple cable adapter and a simple MIC. The parts are probably \$20, s/h another $20. I could see \$100, but \\$250 seems steep? Are there any cheaper conversion solutions?

• true, but the highly rated reviews suggest this is not a good idea. I could add my post into one of them at the end to clarify instead.... May 5 '20 at 16:37

There is another good solution to convert a consumer ANR headset like the Bose NC 700 for use in Aviation: AvMike.

It's something like 180 EUR, so not too much cheaper that the already suggested UFlyMike, but especially for people living in Europe probably quicker/cheaper to get. Furthermore, AvMike supports more headset brands (not just Bose).

For the question why it's so expensive although it's "only" an adapter: The main challenge using consumer headsets in aviation is the required impedance converter to allow it to be used with the aircraft intercom system. That drives the price obviously as it's not just a "simple adapter" after all.

Still you are able to get a very decent ANR headset for aviation this way for less than half of e. g. a Bose A20 would cost you.