The futuristic Airbus A350 is getting a notable makeover.
For a start, like its direct competitor the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, new deliveries won’t offer window shades. Instead, for aircraft deliveries starting 2022, Airbus will offer its own version of dimmable windows.
The dimmable windows on the Boeing 787 are one of the more contested features ever introduced on an airplane, with a true love it or hate it approach taken by most passengers. To that end, Airbus claims theirs will be significantly better.
Airbus Introducing Dimmable Windows
The Airbus A350 is my favorite plane to fly on, for a variety of reasons. The Boeing 787 is another. The unique differentiator between the two, has been Boeing’s dimmable windows, which don’t require a blind.
Airbus is set to change that, with the introduction of its own dimmable windows for the A350-1000 and A350-900. The manufacturer claims these new windows will be able to go fully dark twice as fast, and will offer 100% darker solutions than any predecessors, as well as technology which blocks out heat.
Basically, that’s the Airbus design team, in partnership with their new dimmable window manufacturer, Gentex, calling out Boeing — without directly calling out Boeing. In fairness to Boeing, somebody had to go first, and the windows were a revelation when they first launched.
The Backstory: 787 Dreamliner Windows
Circa 2009, when the dimmable windows on the 787 were launched, it seemed like the “future” was really here. They look genuinely cool, and for most functions they actually are genuinely cool.
Except, of course, when they get really hot, and that heat makes its way directly onto your skin, because there’s no blind to absorb the heat. Or when you try to sleep during a day flight, and it’s kinda like trying to sleep at dusk, with just that little bit too much light still coming through to actually zone out.
I’ll never forget my first Aeromexico flight which featured them in 2014, and how wowed our audience was at the time by the design. But in the years since launch, few improvements have been made, and airlines began to get aggressive with the override settings they offer. Basically, an airline can turn them fully bright, or fully dark, without your permission.
American Airlines cabin crew were famously scolded for dimming them at the first possible opportunity, in hopes of getting passenger to sleep and avoid providing a full service on board. The airline eventually sent out a memo overruling this action.
Back To The New Airbus Dimmable Windows
As someone who’s grappled with the 787 Dreamliner windows too many times to count, both with great success and the occasional frustration, I’m encouraged by the claims made by Airbus!
If the windows genuinely go 100% darker in their blackout mode and can transition twice as fast, that’s a significant win. I often love the novelty of dimming a window and still being able to watch the clouds, and world below, but the transition can currently feel like an eternity.
The Airbus A350 has proven extremely popular with airline customers and many jets are due to be delivered from 2022 onward. It’s expected that removing the blinds from all windows will also decrease weight, which reduces fuel, which fits the environmental goals airlines are in pursuit of.