Will Replace Plastic Shades, Offer Five Settings
One item of future-tech that Boeing has promised from the
earliest days of the upcoming Dreamliner's development appears to
be one step closer to reality, as Boeing announced last week the
company has selected PPG Aerospace, a business unit of PPG
Industries, to provide electrochromic windows for the passenger
cabin of the 787.
The 787 will be the first commercial jetliner to feature this
new technology, which will allow passengers to electronically shade
their windows -- replacing the plastic screens found on
today’s airplanes. Similar methods have been available for
home and automotive use for the last few years, although cost has
limited the technology to higher-end applications.
"The 787 Dreamliner will provide passengers with a noticeably
better flying experience and our windows are a big part of that
improvement," said Mike Bair, vice president and general manager of
the 787 program.
"The new electronic
shades are like sunglasses for the airplane," Bair added.
"Passengers will be able to see out the big Dreamliner windows even
when they choose to shade them."
"PPG has explored variable-transmittance window technology for
aircraft over several years," said PPG Aerospace VP David Morris.
"The culmination of this effort is our involvement in the 787
Dreamliner. Together we are meeting the needs of the public for
more enjoyable travel and helping airlines enhance their operating
The electrochromic transparencies will allow passengers to
adjust the amount of light transmitted to five different levels
from dark to clear, according to PPG, with a manual override for
use by the flight crew. The dimmable window panels will be inserted
between the exterior cabin window and interior plastic dust cover,
and will be controlled by a button on the armrest.
Morris noted that the new window systems will not only provide
light control, but also enhance the interior appearance and comfort
of the aircraft.
"Passengers will be able to control the amount of solar energy
that enters the cabin to reduce solar light and heat transmittance
for more comfort, and there will be less stress on the heating and
air conditioning system," Morris said. "Because there will be no
window shades, interior space will be more attractive."
Boeing has stated the Dreamliner will feature other innovative
features intended to significantly improve the passenger
experience, including bigger windows, a lower cabin altitude and
systems to improve air quality onboard the aircraft, as well as
provide higher humidity. Detailed design of the 787 is under way
with production scheduled to start in 2006. First flight is planned
for 2007 with deliveries beginning in 2008.