Airbus A350 Getting Dimmable Windows

Airbus A350 Getting Dimmable Windows

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At CES 2020, Airbus initially revealed that it planned to introduce dimmable windows in its aircraft cabins, including on the Airbus A350. This is expected to be introduced on planes as of this year (2022), though it’s interesting to note that at least one airline customer isn’t interested in this technology.

Airbus will start offering dimmable windows

Airbus intends to start delivering Airbus A350s with a dimmable window feature in the near future. This was recently confirmed, though the launch customer for this new feature hasn’t yet been revealed.

This is part of an overall change to the aircraft manufacturer’s signature Airspace cabin design, and it will bring the Airbus A350 in line with the Boeing 787 in this regard, as the latter plane has long (controversially) offered dimmable windows.

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.

Airbus A350s will soon get dimmable windows

Lufthansa not interested in dimmable windows

It’s interesting to note that while the first Airbus jet with dimmable windows is expected to enter service in the coming months, Lufthansa reportedly isn’t interested in this feature. The airline has quite a few Airbus A350s on order, and has opted not to install dimmable windows on these planes.

As reported by aeroTELEGRAPH, a Lufthansa spokesperson says that this isn’t about cost savings, but rather is about the passenger experience, and the general downsides of this window technology.

There’s a lot to look forward to with Lufthansa’s upcoming Airbus A350s, as the ones delivered starting in 2023 are expected to feature Lufthansa’s new business class, and will also feature a new first class product.

Lufthansa won’t have dimmable windows on its A350s

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 same side of the plane as 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
All Boeing 787s feature dimmable windows

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.

Bottom line

Airbus A350s will be getting new dimmable windows soon, 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.

Fortunately it sounds like airlines will be able to opt out of this technology, and Lufthansa is on record as stating that it won’t offer this technology on its Airbus A350s.

What do you make of the Airbus A350 getting dimmable windows?

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  1. Emily Guest

    Fantastic! I hate the noise created by people vigorously shutting or opening the manual shades - especially when deep in sleep. I further love it cause I get to enjoy the scenery without the garish light coming through! All in all, electrically dimmable windows are fantastic!

  2. EC Guest

    Most of the comments here (including this article) are focussed on why the new thing sucks and not why the current thing sucks.

    Manual shades suck.

    They often aren't easy to operate, especially for the old/frail, they are difficult to reach in a lot of cases (hiding behind parts of the seat, especially with recent premium products). They often are stuck between two seats so people don't know who has the right to...

    Most of the comments here (including this article) are focussed on why the new thing sucks and not why the current thing sucks.

    Manual shades suck.

    They often aren't easy to operate, especially for the old/frail, they are difficult to reach in a lot of cases (hiding behind parts of the seat, especially with recent premium products). They often are stuck between two seats so people don't know who has the right to operate them (this is easier with dimmables, because the changes if made are less dramatic and/or the airline will do it for you). They are either on or off - no in between. So you can't gently wake up to the outside world and start to peek outside...you have to prepare for a massive shock no matter what, and that's before you consider the inconvenience to all of your fellow passengers. I pity the FAs every time I watch them reaching across three seats of passengers to try and push down hard-to-close plastic shutters.

    Besides, most airlines have shifted to a 'non-locked' state at this point or, as others have pointed out, will unlock it if you ask.

    It's progress, embrace it.

  3. wonkachocolat Guest

    Completely agree with the points you raised Lucky. I personally don't like the 787 because of passenger comfort issues. In part that relates to the dimmable windows and I echo your concerns. Especially the heat and the fact it doesn't actually go fully dark.

    At the beginning of the article, I was hoping Airbus would provide both options so that you could dim the windows whilst eating or if you are directly in the...

    Completely agree with the points you raised Lucky. I personally don't like the 787 because of passenger comfort issues. In part that relates to the dimmable windows and I echo your concerns. Especially the heat and the fact it doesn't actually go fully dark.

    At the beginning of the article, I was hoping Airbus would provide both options so that you could dim the windows whilst eating or if you are directly in the glare of the sun, but when you want to sleep or watch a movie, you can still pull down a solid shade and get the black-out effect as per normal.

    Alas, sometimes, technology just messes things up.

    I avoid flights if I know one of the legs will be on a 787. I love the A350 but hoping this new development won't be a blot on an otherwise great aircraft

  4. Cassio Guest

    There is at least one advantage as far as I'm concerned - I won't be woken up by the cabin crew to open the bloody blinds before landing.

  5. Chad Guest

    Great, now you won't be able to use your cell phone on the ground in those planes either...

  6. John Guest

    Just had four flights on JAL all on 787's and would much rather have the traditional pull down shades than the electronic ones. Flew over the Korean peninsula and couldn't see a thing even though it was about 1pm in the afternoon as the crew had them locked though they did unlock mine when I was finally able to ask.

  7. John.S Guest

    I love them.

    Hate when the window hoggers who insist on having their window open whilst the rest of the cabin is in darkness because everyone else is trying to sleep. So you get that one circle of light piercing through the cabin. Terrible.

    Hopefully Qantas installs these on their A350s.

  8. Rotuma Gold

    I hate the dimmable windows as well, for reasons others mentioned. I don’t want to be blocked from seeing and photographing cloudscapes, sunsets, sunrises, etc. The double shades that Qatar and Emirates use are great - block all, some, or none of the light. For those who complain about light from other passengers’ windows — that’s what personal sleep shades are for. Even those who want to enjoy the scenery generally don’t keep their shades...

    I hate the dimmable windows as well, for reasons others mentioned. I don’t want to be blocked from seeing and photographing cloudscapes, sunsets, sunrises, etc. The double shades that Qatar and Emirates use are great - block all, some, or none of the light. For those who complain about light from other passengers’ windows — that’s what personal sleep shades are for. Even those who want to enjoy the scenery generally don’t keep their shades fully open all of the flight. Good for Lufthansa for rejecting this option.

  9. brianna hoffner Member

    Wait, I thought the 787 dimmers could go faster, but they slow them down intentionally to prevent people/kids from playing with them....

    Also, you don't need "quotes" around the word "lock".

  10. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Airlines that use them, at a minimum, should require that flight attendants leave the window controls to passenger discretion for the first and last 30 minutes of each flight.
    Even for the remaining "middle" part of the flight, passengers should be able to select something in the darker "half" of the range. I get not having windows able to be fully bright for the majority of the flight but people who pay for window...

    Airlines that use them, at a minimum, should require that flight attendants leave the window controls to passenger discretion for the first and last 30 minutes of each flight.
    Even for the remaining "middle" part of the flight, passengers should be able to select something in the darker "half" of the range. I get not having windows able to be fully bright for the majority of the flight but people who pay for window seats should be able to get some benefit from it.
    Having seen what happened with the 787 windows, passengers need to speak out loud and clear to make sure that is not repeated with the way 350 windows are controlled by crew.

  11. InceptionCat Guest

    Not a fan. They never get dark enough esp. on a daytime flight where i want to sleep. On 2 BA flights the dimmer was just broken so i just drank and passed out at some point.
    Naa, i'm good with the classic shades.

  12. JB Guest

    I think crews should be able to darken the windows if they desire on certain flights, but they should not lock them and allow the passengers to change the setting if they desire.

  13. Georg L Guest

    Honestly, my favorite part of the dimmable windows is that they can bei locked. There ist nothing worse than another passenger disrupting my sleep by opening the window shade, letting all the light into the cabin.

  14. tipsyinmadras Diamond

    Hate them. My first 787 trip was a daytime US-Asia flight on United - all I saw of Alaska was faint mountains through a deep Windex blue which was locked in place

    1. Airfarer Diamond

      Agreed. I don't want to leave westbound ex Europe at 1000 and live in darkness for the next 10 hours. I already slept goddamnit.

  15. Chris Guest

    Ben throwing shade on Airbus...

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tipsyinmadras Diamond

Hate them. My first 787 trip was a daytime US-Asia flight on United - all I saw of Alaska was faint mountains through a deep Windex blue which was locked in place

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Tim Dunn Diamond

Airlines that use them, at a minimum, should require that flight attendants leave the window controls to passenger discretion for the first and last 30 minutes of each flight. Even for the remaining "middle" part of the flight, passengers should be able to select something in the darker "half" of the range. I get not having windows able to be fully bright for the majority of the flight but people who pay for window seats should be able to get some benefit from it. Having seen what happened with the 787 windows, passengers need to speak out loud and clear to make sure that is not repeated with the way 350 windows are controlled by crew.

4
Airfarer Diamond

Agreed. I don't want to leave westbound ex Europe at 1000 and live in darkness for the next 10 hours. I already slept goddamnit.

4
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