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.
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.
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
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 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?