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Becker Avionics has brought a new intercom system to the market that makes it easier for pilots to listen to multiple radios at once using 3D audio. The system, AMU6500, is parallel to the company’s DVCS6100 intercom system with 3D audio incorporated.
The AMU6500, which is compatible on both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, can operate four radios per unit; up to three AMUs can be installed in an aircraft, allowing for pilots to operate up to 12 transceivers and 12 receivers. When 3D audio is activated on the system, pilots can have multiple radios on, yet still be able to focus on one radio frequency at a time.
“The advantage of 3D audio is you can have multiple radios running and your brain will split them,” said Lee Benson, senior consultant for Becker Avionics. “If you want to listen to the left radio, you listen to the left radio and the right radio goes away, and vice versa.”
The 3D audio feature relies mainly on the human brain’s ability listen to a particular conversation in one direction, and tune out all other sounds coming from other directions. For example, on an air medical flight, the patient’s headset can be set to 12 o’clock, allowing the flight nurse sitting in front of them to listen to them more attentively. Then, if hospital calls come through at the same time, those radio frequencies will sound as though they are coming from a different direction. The flight nurse can then choose which radio they would like to focus on.
“I used to be the chief pilot for LA County Fire,” said Benson. “You’d have two or three radios running at the same time, and you’d be turning volumes up and down and shutting them off. You’re just constantly working, trying to keep up with the communications. With the AMU, you just leave all the volumes where they’re at.”
David Oglesbee of Becker said the 3D audio system takes about 30 minutes to get used to, “and you have it 100 percent figured out.” The box will have the future capability to split between the pilot and copilot, allowing each one to listen to their own radio frequencies from one unit.