Navy to field new hearing protection helmet for extreme noise environments improving safety, readiness
The Naval Aircrew Systems program office (PMA-202) is using data collected during recent fleet assessments to refine the HGU-99/P Hearing Protection Helmet (HPH) which is intended for flight deck crew exposed to extreme noise environments.
Depending on where they work on the flight deck, many flight deck crew operate under extreme noise conditions which has the potential to challenge their communication, effectiveness, and flight operations tempo. The new HPH provides three layers of hearing protection, impact head protection, and electronic “hear-through” to restore auditory situational awareness, The refined helmet is designed to improve crew communication, personal protection, and reduce hearing loss from prolonged exposure to extreme noise, one of the Navy’s top safety concerns.
“The HPH provides improved impact protection and increased hearing protection for flight deck crew working on the areas of the deck that are the loudest. Based on the data collected from our fleet assessments, we have been able to further refine the communication capabilities, which will enhance operations tempo on the deck,” said Capt. Carey Castelein, PMA-202 program manager.
The program office utilized fleet assessments to incorporate the data collected from verification and qualification tests such as equipment compatibility, speech intelligibility, and face-to-face communication in proximity to jet noise to select the new HPH solution.
The HPH is compatible with external communication systems and all variants include the face-to-face “hear through” electronic communication system and use the same battery, improving compatibility. The communication system for each variant is based on noise level and communication need in proximity to jet noise, with a sound-powered phone system for the highest noise areas, boom or cup microphone for medium noise attenuation, and face-to-face only for lowest of the extreme noise areas.
“Thorough research, test and fleet assessments allowed our team to determine the best possible solution for improved extreme noise hearing protection, communication capability and head protection, taking into account performance and user feedback,” said Kimberly Gould, PMA-202 HPH team lead.
The program office started fleet assessments of the HPH in 2020 and anticipates production in limited quantities to support operational test and evaluation will begin June 2023.
The Naval Aircrew Systems program office (PMA-202) analyzes, develops, and delivers innovative solutions that optimizes the effectiveness of warfighters, ensuring they are equipped with systems that directly support the aircrew, aviation maintainers, and aircraft passengers in the performance of their missions. The PMA-202 portfolio consists of Personal Protective Equipment, Combat Survivability and Perseverance, Physiological Episode Protection, Visual Situational Awareness, Ejection & Crash Survivability/Egress, and Chemical Biological Defense Exposure Protection programs.