The launch customer for the Boeing 787, All Nippon Airlines, has approached Boeing to fix an emerging problem with the electric dimming windows on the 787, which apparently are not dark enough for it’s passengers to sleep comfortably. Those windows darken significantly, but are not fully opaque, and apparently the additional light entering the cabin is enough to make sleep more difficult on some flights, particularly when the angle of the rising or setting sun is aligned with the fuselage.
Of course, the large size of the windows makes them quite popular with passengers who like to look outside, but the size also brings in more light than smaller windows, requiring more effective shading. I find the large windows quite attractive, as I typically tend to look outside at several points during a flight.
Ryosei Nomura at ANA stated “for our passengers to have good sleep, we realized that it is important to offer appropriate darkness during flights, especially for long haul.” ANA is now considering installing traditional pull down blinds over the electric windows if Boeing can’t come up with a solution to darken them.
Boeing declined to comment on the issue, citing the proprietary nature of discussions with customers, but indicated that customer response to the larger dimmable windows has been favorable. Airbus has included traditional shades on the A350XWB, citing the lack of opacity on the 787 windows as the reason for using “conventional” technology on their new aircraft.
Bottom line: We’re betting Boeing and its supplier PPG will find a way to crank up the darkness a bit more in the near future. For now, make certain that you wear a sleep mask and rest easy, as the 787 is apparently a vampire free airplane.