In January 2020, news broke that Airbus would be introducing dimmable windows, rivaling those of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Yesterday, Simple Flying had a first-hand chance to test out this new feature on the A350.
At the Airbus Summit in Toulouse this week, market leaders have been discussing the industry’s ambitious sustainability initiatives. While on-site, we took the opportunity to board the Airbus Airspace Explorer, which is the manufacturer’s dedicated cross-programme flight test platform.
The aircraft showcased some of the innovations that the firm has been working on to scale up the passenger experience. While no footage was allowed at the time, staff presented the unique features to us.
The new additions are heavily concentrated around greater connectivity. Airbus is using modern technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) to converge its onboard appliances. This factor helps crew members anticipate the requirements of passengers. For example, catering and inventory needs can be predicted and displayed for airlines to keep on top of services.
Overall, screens will be a major feature in the next generation of cabin services. Using remote devices, flight attendants can gather important data without having to manually analyze the situation.
In practice, the attendants can identify conditions such as which passengers don’t have their seatbelt on by looking at the screen on their tablet. They can also control appliances such as the lighting and the new windows using their device.
(Almost) total blackout
The concave A350 windows are designed with a slight inward curve. This aspect helps to flatten out the curvature, for the windows to “become flush with the aircraft skin.” Altogether, this approach cuts down drag and fuel burn.
Regarding automation, Airbus states that carriers will have the option of deploying the electro-dimmable model. These windows will offer over “99.9% sunlight-blocking performance.” Therefore, to the eye, there is a total blackout from the light outside.
There are additional benefits to be had across the spectrum, especially when it comes to efficiency. For instance, airlines will have savings in regard to weight due to the standard window shades being omitted.
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The advantages of controlling the appliances remotely will spread across the spectrum. After passengers deplane, staff can reset the cabin instantly with a tap of a finger, without having to manually open all the shades. Moreover, maintenance teams can even prop up all the seats to their natural position from a tablet.
Making flying an enjoyable AND sustainable experience: that's the aim of the research we're conducting with our #Airspace Explorer test frame.
Learn how we plan to turn exciting innovations to systems in service in a near future: https://t.co/qryyJZwE12 #AirbusSummit pic.twitter.com/OK3k4FP4w5
— Airbus (@Airbus) September 22, 2021
The expected 2022 upgrade will undoubtedly leave passengers debating. While many travelers love the 787’s dimmable windows, there has been much discussion about an airline’s ability to control windows centrally. Regardless, in the instances when crew members request customers to close their shades, a lot of time and effort will be saved. Many passengers will also love the flexibility of adjusting the different settings.
What are your thoughts about the new Airbus A350 windows? Are you looking forward to the new features? Let us know what you think of the new additions and the overall prospects of the cabin in the comment section.