Bluetooth in aviation headsets—frequently asked questions

Aviation headsets have changed drastically over the years. They started out as simple speakers on a headband so pilots could hear Air Traffic Control better while sitting in loud cockpits. They advanced to the magical ANR marvels that most of us pilots wear today. 

Bose A20 BluetoothOne of the many features normally found on these premium headsets is Bluetooth, a wireless technology that allows two devices to communicate with each other. A Bluetooth headset can connect to a Bluetooth phone or tablet. This enables applications like ForeFlight or Garmin Pilot to provide audio alerts in aviation headsets. 

When Bluetooth was first introduced in aviation headsets, some headsets were able to interact with your phone and play music, while others could only be used for phone calls. This led to some confusion on which headsets would work with navigation applications. Luckily, this was remedied many years ago and all headsets produced today can do both phone calls and music.  

Bluetooth FAQs:

Can I use a Bluetooth aviation headset to record audio on my phone? 

No. We wish it worked like that, as that would make our videos much easier to record. If you want to record cockpit audio on your phone, you’ll need an adapter that plugs into your intercom. We use this Flight Gear Audio Input Cable and it works great.

Bluetooth means wireless, right?  So how does my Bluetooth-enabled aviation headset connect to the panel?

There has been some confusion among pilots when it comes to Bluetooth headsets.  We’ve had some student pilots ask how to connect their Bluetooth headset to their panel: is there a dongle or receiver they must have to get it to work? While Bluetooth is a wireless technology, it is not used to connect your headset to the panel or the aircraft radio—only auxiliary devices. You will still be connected to the panel through your headset jacks.

Can I use my Bluetooth aviation headset without being plugged into an intercom? 

For most aviation headsets, the answer to this will be yes. You will want to consult your user manual because you may need to override the auto-shutoff function. Auto-shutoff saves your battery from dying if you unplug from the intercom and forget to turn your headset off. This means your headset automatically shuts down after approximately five minutes of not being connected to an intercom. That would get annoying quick.  

Can I connect two Bluetooth headsets to one iPad?

No. Generally speaking, Bluetooth is a one-to-one connectio: one iPad to one headset. If you have Bluetooth in your intercom (some modern intercoms have this), you can connect your iPad to the intercom. This would allow multiple users to hear one iPad. 


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