The Airbus A350 will come with electronically dimmable windows from 2022 just like Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner the European aircraft manufacturer confirmed during a press summit which is being held at the company’s headquarters in Toulouse, France.
Electronically dimmable windows have been standard on the Boeing Dreamliner ever since the aircraft took its first flight more than 10 years ago but the technology was initially rejected by Airbus when it was developing its A350 widebody jet and the designers stuck with traditional window shades.
One of the reasons for Airbus’ decision to reject the new technology was that it was just a little too new. Airbus thought there was room for improvement and only now is the aircraft manufacturer convinced electronically dimmable windows are a worthy replacement for the humble window shade.
Airbus will use updated electrochromic technology that’s currently used on the Boeing 787 to control the darkness of the window shades throughout the cabin. The system works by sending an electric current through a special transparent gel that’s sandwiched between two panels within the window.
Increasing the voltage running through the gel makes the window increasingly darker.
Instead of a traditional window shade, passengers can control the darkness of their individual window by simply pressing a button. The Dreamliner has five settings from 1 (which is fully transparent) to 5 which is the darkest setting, although some light is still visible.
With the iteration of the technology that Airbus plans to use, the maximum dimming effect is 100 times darker than the previous version found on 787’s, effectively blocking out 99.99 per cent of visible light.
The manufacturer, Gentex, also says the whole process is a lot quicker.
Airbus unveiled the option as part of its updated Airspace cabin concept. Airlines will still have a choice of whether to install traditional shades but weight savings alone could convince many carriers that electronically dimmable windows are a worthy replacement.
Boeing’s 777X aircraft is also expected to feature the latest generation electrochromic window technology when it finally launches.
Airbus is also working on an ultra-thin and ultra-light electronic display board that can be fitted to nearly any cabin surface like a sticker. The technology could be used to welcome passengers onboard an aircraft or display safety-related messages but some airlines could also use it to display adverts on overhead lockers.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.