The Boeing 787 Dreamliner may provide a window into the future of airline windows. The aircraft, which can seat up to 290 people, features windows 65% larger than the industry norm – with no shades.But, the lack of shades won’t be a problem. In fact, passengers can touch a button and dim the windows or brighten them according to individual preferences.
Alternately, since the windows are connected to a network, flight attendants can control the brightness of an individual window, all of the windows in a zone, or all of the Dreamliner’s windows from a central control point.
With this new window technology, one day some frequent flyers who favour aisle seating may be changing their tune and opting for window seats if they enjoy new gizmos.
The Dreamliner’s new windows are made of two thin layers of glass with gel wedged between them. When passengers touch a button, a voltage and current is applied to the gel, triggering a chemical reaction which begins to darken the window.
And, passengers can manipulate the button to determine how bright or dark they want the window to become. Dreamliner officials say the windows can be manipulated to go from clear to black to anywhere in the spectrum.
Individual airlines can also automate the brightening/dimming for movie-watching or for certain altitudes such as below 10,000 feet or when an aircraft begins its descent for landing.
Boeing developed the technology for the dimmable windows in collaboration with PPG Aerospace and Gentex Corp.
The first Dreamliners will be delivered to airlines over the next few months, with All Nippon Airways of Japan slated to get the first one delivered in September. But, don’t expect to get dimmable windows on your commuter flight from New York to Boston anytime soon.
However, perhaps one day dimmable windows could become widespread and have their, well, day in the sun.