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AIRBUS: Dimmable windows on an A350

AIRBUS: Dimmable windows on an A350

Over the last 2 days, Airbus has been holding a promotional event titled ‘Airbus Summit 2021’ at its headquarters in Tolouse, France. The purpose of the event –

‘. . . bringing together renowned aerospace experts, operators, thinkers, journalists, influencers, and policy makers worldwide. This industry-wide conversation explores the innovations and cross-sector partnerships that will change the way we travel forever. ‘

Airbus Summit website

You can check out the full self-promotion bru-ha-ha at the website including videos of the days’ proceedings and a schedule of events. A lot of the talks are themed around ‘net-zero’, which demonstrates how sensitive Airbus is to criticisms of aircraft’s carbon footprint. Mind you they don’t offer many solutions, mainly approaches, frameworks and road-maps.

Electrochromic windows – dimmable glass to you

Back in 2020, Airbus announced this as an option. Now, it is a reality with all versions of the A350 being offered these dimmable windows. They provide a weight advantage, as well as a slightly concave (inward) curve which cuts down drag and therefore fuel burn. The lack of physical ‘shades’ also reduces weight, and therefore fuel burn too.

It also works for the crew, being able to open’ or ‘close’ windows from a centrally located control rather than adjusting all the shades manually. Very helpful when re-setting a plan after landing.

Big Data – The Internet of Things (IoT)

Airbus is also going to get into the internet-of-things, with portable devices being used by cabin staff to gather information on passengers – like whether they are wearing their seatbelts. As my lecturer on ‘Emerging Technologies’ would say, another opportunity for the collection and resale of big data! Those flight attendants will be watching you.

I’ll pop that paranoia back in my pocket how.

an airplane parked on a tarmac
Static display at the Summit including Beluga and A350 X

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

It is to be hoped that these innovations as well as reducing an airbus aircraft’s carbon footprint, through efficiency will free up cabin staff to spend more time serving and engaging with passengers. That will add to the pleasure of flying. On the other hand, some airlines will just see this as a way to get more done with less people, and service will suffer.

Dimmable windows are a bit polarising (get it?) for passengers. Some love them, others complain that their 99.9% light blocking is not enough. Some flyers hate the fact that cabin staff can control the windows centrally.

Lets just remember that this is Airbus catching up. Boeing has had these windows electrochroematic windows on the 787 since it took flight on December 15, 2009 at precisely 10:27 a.m Pacific time.

Personally, I like them – they are just so George Jetson compared to physical shades

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