The Boeing Skyview Panoramic Window is the crème de la crème of aircraft passenger windows. Its 4.5-by-1.5-foot measurements make it the largest passenger window in modern aviation. The likes of it are seen on the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) and its related models, the BBJ2 and BBJMax. Additionally, the Boeing Dreamliner 787 features fuselage windows like the small oval-shaped ones you may have seen on commercial airliners, but they measure an impressive 1.5 ft. in length, and 11 inches in height. They are the largest standard passenger windows in operation; however, the new Airbus A220s are set to shake up Boeing’s domination of captivating aircraft window design by providing one innovative element to commercial regional flight — a bathroom window.
The Airbus A330, A350, and A380 aircraft are also equipped with bathroom windows, but these jumbo airplanes are primarily used for long-haul international flights. The Airbus A220 sets itself apart by being the only single-aisle commercial airliner to incorporate a bathroom window. As an amenity to passengers, the window can provide more enjoyment and a sense of cleanliness to the aircraft. Light flows more easily into the room, and the views out of a larger window are sure to inspire intrigue and a sense of novelty among the customer base of commercial flying. So why aren’t all aircraft equipped with a bathroom window? Or even, with larger windows like the Boeing Skyview?
Windows are heavy. While a fuselage can currently incorporate carbon composites and engineered alloys in its structure, an aircraft window can’t. The Boeing Panoramic Skyview, for example, is attached to a carbon composite fuselage, compensating for the windows weight and giving it the ability to withstand structural stressors. The rounded design of a passenger window is often small and oval shaped to anticipate high-stress zones in flight, (if you can believe it, passenger windows used to be square), and to eliminate vulnerable surface area.
The design of passenger windows is also subject to intensive stress testing according to its high rate of exposure to risk factors. At any moment in flight, these factors can include constantly changing pressure differentials, an expanding and contracting fuselage, temperature changes, bird or object strike, and chemical interaction. As such, passenger windows are designed with a two-panel system. Two distinct plies sit next to one another, with airspace trapped in between. The second panel acts as a failsafe in the event that the first panel is destroyed or defects.
As you can see, the development, and advancement, of fuselage carbon fiber technology is changing the way that original equipment manufacturers are able to design aircraft windows. The future looks bright, quite literally, for aircraft window design.
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