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Mr Hancock signed on in 1969 and after basic training went to RAF St Athan to train as an Aircraft Engine Mechanic.
His first active posting was to RAF Wittering and 1 (F) Sqdn, who were working up to being operational on the Harrier. The Harrier has an engine that puts out more power than the aircraft weighs. This makes it extremely noisy in the hover and the engine produces a very loud whine. Being part of the ground crew, he had to stand in front and to the left of the aircraft during engine run, either when the pilot was in or during ground running to test various engine components.
After a certain engine speed, they were not allowed to be near the aircraft but had to go to an insulated room or be in danger of internal organ damage due to the vibrations transmitted through the air.
In 1971, he was posted to Wildenrath, again with the Harrier and endured the same conditions until 1974. These conditions were also exacerbated by having to operate from woods and clearings; sometimes at a moment’s notice, driving Bedford TK lorries for hours on end with a noisy engine in between the driver and passenger and living next to the operating aircraft. All in all, a very noisy environment. He was then posted to Cranwell in SSF where the environment was not so frantic and the aircraft that he worked on were a lot less noisy. However; the RAF was undergoing restructuring at that time and he was very quickly posted to Leeming, were he was on the aircraft handling flight line. Working around running aircraft engines all the time.
There was a navigational training aircraft at Leeming called the Jetstream and the engines fitted to the Jetstream were a pair of French Astazous. These were turbo prop engines and emitted a very high-pitched noise, so high in fact that they had to keep a record of their exposure and they were only theoretically allowed to have a set time each day.
‘Operational requirements’ overrode this safety measure and soon the exposure records they kept were consigned to History. At the end of the day if he had been working with the jetstream; it took a fair while for the background ringing (that the engines left) to dissipate. Hearing protection then was just the standard ‘ear defenders’ with the black liquid filled cushions on them.
It was around this time that the decision was taken to invalid Mr Hancock from the RAF due to hearing damage.
Mr Hancock has coped over the years by having people speak directly to him and learning to lip read well. It is now becoming more of a problem for him as he is having to turn volumes up to excessive levels and road traffic has become a lot quieter. Also; with the onset of electric vehicles, he fears to stepping out on the road with an accident waiting to happen. He cannot hear the leaks and squeaks that his partner hears, and this causes friction when he comes to check them for repair and also when driving. Road noises that would alert him to problems with his car are a lot more subdued; if at all audible.
On testing Mr Hancock he was found to have a ski slope loss in both ears from a mild level down to very severe in both ears. Sensori neural in nature. He has also been suffering tinnitus in his right ear which is his worst ear. This is due to typical noise exposure, the degree of drop to the high frequencies and will impact on his volume and his clarity.
To maintain good levels of communication he will need good support in technology and potentially assistive equipment in noise to give him the best chance of what is being said.
Our audiologist recommended the Phonak B90 Audeo binaural hearing system as these are best suited to Mr Hancock’s requirements, and after demonstrating them to him and he is very impressed!
The Phonak Audéo B90 provides high satisfaction amongst first-time users in real-life listening situations, with less concentration effortand more comfort from the moment you step out of the door and into real-life listening situations. These hearing aids are compatible with any SmartPhone device so you can change your settings descreetly where ever you may be whilst enjoying the freedom of universal connectivity.
Phonak hearing aids zoom in on single voice in a noisy environemnt so you can experience 60% improved speech understanding compared to no hearing aids.