At CES 2020, it was revealed that Airbus eventually planned to introduce dimmable windows in its aircraft cabins. This week the European aircraft manufacturer has revealed more details about the plans, and not everyone will be a fan.
Airbus will start offering dimmable windows
During this week’s Airbus Summit 2021, the aircraft manufacturer has revealed that Airbus A350s delivered in 2022 and beyond will feature dimmable windows. This is part of an overall change to the aircraft manufacturer’s signature Airspace cabin design, and it would bring the Airbus A350 in line with the Boeing 787 in this regard, as the latter plane has long (controversially) offered that.
The new window shade technology is designed by Gentex Corporation, which is a supplier of electronically dimmable windows for the aerospace industry. With these latest generation electrochromic windows, passengers will no longer have to manually push the window shade up or down, but rather can adjust their window shade setting by the push of a button.
Gentex states that this new technology will allow passengers to selectively darken the windows while still viewing scenery outside. These dimmers will eliminate the need for window shades, and also incorporate a heat control solution that blocks infra-red energy from entering the cabin from outside, lessening the dependence on air-conditioning systems.
These latest generation windows will feature high-speed transition between clear and dark, and will also offer an ultra-dark low-end transmission. Compared to previous designs, the latest windows will darken twice as fast and become 100 times darker, eliminating 99.999% of visible light.
My issue with Boeing 787 dimmable windows
Many people like the window shades on the 787 and find them to be cool, though personally I strongly dislike them (this is actually one of the reasons I prefer the A350 to the 787):
- Many times the crew will just “lock” the window setting on dark for the entire flight, meaning there’s no way you can look outside
- Even when in the darkest mode, I find that it’s still somewhat bright, and worst of all if you’re on the side of the plane of the sun, it can get hot
- The dimming happens slowly, which sometimes makes it tough to figure out if you’re controlling the window shades correctly or not
On the plus side, it seems that the dimmable window technology from Airbus addresses some of my concerns — the dimming will happen much more quickly than on the 787, and at the max setting, the dimming will be much darker.
However, it doesn’t address my biggest concern, which is airline crews trying to dictate window shade settings. Personally I love sitting in a window seat for the view, but unfortunately some airline crews take it upon themselves to “lock” the dimmers at the darkest setting, to make the cabin as dark as possible. While some airlines have told crews to stop doing this, it still happens.
Airbus A350s will be getting new dimmable windows as of 2022, as part of an overall update to the Airspace cabin design.
On the surface I’m not a fan of this development, at least based on how these window shades are currently implemented. However, with the latest generation window shades, it sounds like many of my concerns are addressed. Assuming the window shades can dim more quickly, and get darker than they currently get, then I’m a little less opposed to this development.
To any airlines getting this technology, please emphasize that crews shouldn’t be controlling window settings for the entirety of the flight.
What do you make of the Airbus A350 getting dimmable windows?