Selected by US Air Force for AHNR program
In March of 2007 the US Air Force awarded Sound Innovations a $1.5 million contract to develop and qualify an in-ear product that meets its stringent Aircrew Helmet Noise Reduction (AHNR) requirements for fixed and rotary wing environments. The result is the ACE™ which is the only in-ear product that meets the AHNR specification and ensures that aircrews operate with safe levels of daily noise exposure.
The US Air Force has documented that current aircrew headsets do not provide adequate protection for all mission profiles and offer limited speech intelligibility. Poor communication can lead to mission failures and hearing loss can cut military careers short. Veterans Affairs cites hearing loss as the #1 military retiree health disability, resulting in over $7.4 billion in claims since 1977, and the US Air Force represents twenty percent of these cases.
To address and solve these problems, the US Air Force initiated the Aircrew Helmet Noise Reduction (AHNR) project and developed a set of specifications for an AHNR system with the following key requirements:
- provide noise attenuation to ensure aircrews remain under 1.0 total daily exposure
- deliver uninterrupted, fail-safe communication to aircrew
- operate in all aircraft where the aircrews use the Gentex HGU-55/P and HGU-56/P flight helmets
The US Air Force then launched a competitive selection process to identify a company to develop a system design, to verify the design meets the rigid requirements, and to flight test the final product. Sound Innovations AHNR contract is an outcome of this process.