Are Dimmable Aircraft Windows the Wave of the Future?
October 27, 2011

Boeing has unveiled its all-new 787 Dreamliner, which is equipped with windows that can be dimmed at the touch of a button.

The windows, which also are 65 percent larger than those on most commercial aircrafts, according to the company, are the product of a partnership between Boeing, PPG Aerospace and Gentex Corp., and are being branded jointly as Alteos window systems. The windows are 19 inches tall and have a layer of gel, which company officials describe as the thickness of a pencil lead sandwiched between two thin pieces of glass. When an electric current is applied to the gel, it causes a chemical reaction and it begins to darken. (View the video below to see the windows in action.)

“Electrodes [are] placed on the side of the windows," says Sean Sullivan, senior manager of the 787 cabin systems. "They [are] hidden from view from the passenger. That's how we apply the current across the gel from one side of the window to the other."

The windows are all networked together so flight attendants also will be able to control either an individual window, a section of the windows or all of the windows at once.

“Electrochromic shades were the ideal solution for the Boeing 787’s large passenger-cabin windows,” adds Mark Cancilla, PPG business platform leader for commercial transparencies. “While Alteos interactive window systems make the flying experience more comfortable and fun for passengers, they afford operating efficiencies for airlines. They are lighter-weight than other shading systems and offer reduced maintenance because they are self-contained with no moving parts.”

Boeing says the 787 is the first commercial airliner to feature the electrochromic technology.

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