PPG will make electronically dimmed cabin windows for Boeing 787

Dec. 16, 2005
HUNTSVILLE, Ala., 16 Dec. 2005. The Boeing Company has named PPG Aerospace to supply electronically dimmable systems for the windows of the 787's passenger compartment, so passengers will be able to darken or lighten their windows at the touch of a button.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., 16 Dec. 2005. The Boeing Company has named PPG Aerospace to supply electronically dimmable systems for the windows of the 787's passenger compartment, so passengers will be able to darken or lighten their windows at the touch of a button.

The value of the contract is about $50 million over the first five years, making the 787 Dreamliner the first commercial aviation application for electrochromic window technology, said David Morris, PPG Aerospace vice president.

"PPG has explored variable-transmittance window technology for aircraft over several years. The culmination of this effort is our involvement in the 787 Dreamliner. Together we are meeting the needs of the public for more enjoyable travel and helping airlines enhance their operating efficiency. We are especially pleased that we will be introducing a new type of window component on such a technologically advanced airplane as the 787."

Electrochromic technology uses electricity to darken an electrically conductive medium between two layers of glass. Turning off the electricity bleaches, or lightens, the medium.

The electrochromic transparencies will allow passengers to adjust the amount of light to five different levels from dark to clear, with a manual override for use by the flight crew. The dimmable window panels will be inserted between the exterior cabin window and interior plastic dust cover.

The passenger-cabin windows on the Boeing 787 will be almost 25 percent larger than those on the Boeing 777, Morris noted. The new window systems will not only provide light control, but also enhance the interior appearance and comfort of the aircraft.

"Passengers will be able to control the amount of solar energy that enters the cabin to reduce solar light and heat transmittance for more comfort, and there will be less stress on the heating and air conditioning system," he said. "Because there will be no window shades, interior space will be more attractive."

Electrochromic panel prototypes will be provided to Boeing in early 2006, and first production units for evaluation are due by mid-2006. First articles are expected to be produced for flight evaluation by the fourth quarter of 2006, according to Morris. Volume shipments are expected to begin in mid- to late 2007.

PPG Aerospace has agreed to work with Gentex Corp., a Zeeland, Mich.-based manufacturer of automatic-dimming rearview mirrors and commercial fire protection products, to produce the variably dimmable electrochromic cabin window systems.

Morris said that the PPG-Gentex relationship capitalizes on the individual strengths of two industry leaders in order to create and commercialize the new technology at a faster pace than either could do alone.

"PPG brings its unmatched aircraft transparency expertise to Boeing as well as the world's airlines," Morris said. "We have the knowledge and systems in place to successfully supply the electrochromic transparencies. Importantly, we understand the requirements for a transparency operating in an aircraft environment in order to be qualified. In addition, we have the infrastructure and experience needed to provide airlines with direct worldwide product support and sales service in the aftermarket."

Gentex brings its patented electrochromic technology, as well as expertise in electronics and microelectronics, that will be utilized in the window panels and control systems, according to Garth Deur, Gentex executive vice president.

"This is a start for Gentex, in a new industry, and offers us the ability to leverage some of the research and development dollars we have invested over the years in the development of this unique variably dimming technology."

Boeing's 787 is a family of three super-efficient airplanes that will provide passengers with a better flying experience. The airplanes will feature significant improvements in passenger amenities including cleaner air, bigger windows, a lower cabin altitude and higher humidity. Detailed design of the 787 is under way with production scheduled to start in 2006. First flight is planned for 2007 with deliveries beginning in 2008.

PPG Aerospace is the aerospace products and services business of PPG Industries. PPG Aerospace - Transparencies is the world's largest supplier of aircraft windshields, windows and canopies. PPG Aerospace - PRC-DeSoto is the leading global producer of aerospace sealants, coatings, and packaging and application systems. PPG is the sole source to Boeing for cockpit windows on the Boeing 737, 767 and 777 airplanes. For more information, see http://corporate.ppg.com/PPG/SBU/Aerospace/default.htm.

In addition to its aerospace business, Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries is a global supplier of glass, coatings, fiber glass and chemicals, with 2004 sales of US$9.5 billion.

Founded in 1974, Gentex Corp. is an international company that provides high-quality electro-optic products to the worldwide automotive industry and North American fire protection market. Based in Zeeland, Mich., the company develops, manufactures and markets interior and exterior automatic-dimming rearview mirrors that utilize proprietary electrochromic technology to dim in proportion to the amount of headlight glare from trailing vehicle headlamps. Many of the mirrors are sold with advanced electronic features, and approximately 95 percent of the company's revenues are derived from the sales of auto-dimming mirrors to nearly every major automaker in the world. For more information, see www.gentex.com.

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