What Type of Glass Do Cockpit Windows Use?

Airplanes are meticulously designed to meet the necessary safety specifications. From the fuselage and engines to the landing gear and controls, aerospace manufacturing companies must follow guidelines when designing and building airplanes. Even the cockpit windows require a specific design. While cockpit windows may look like standard panes of ordinary panes of glass, though, they are actually made of a different material.

Stretched Acrylic Glass

Most airplanes use stretched acrylic glass for their cockpit windows. They are comprised of acrylic that’s physically stretched and molded into panes. The stretched acrylic panes feature a layer of ordinary glass over them. In some cases, there may be a layer of urethane between the stretched acrylic and glass. Regardless, most airplanes use stretched acrylic glass for their cockpit windows.

It’s important to note that cockpit windows often feature a hydrophobic coating as well. Hydrophobic coatings are finishes that are designed to repel moisture, oils and liquids. Pilots today navigate primarily by using digital instruments. Nonetheless, they still need to see out of the cockpit windows. Without a hydrophobic coating, the cockpit windows may fog up, thereby restricting pilots’ visibility. A hydrophobic coating protects against this phenomenon by wicking moisture off the cockpit windows.

What About the Cabin Windows?

Stretched acrylic is typically used for cabin windows as well. Cabin windows, of course, are the windows on the side of an airplane that allow passengers to look outside during the flight. For the cabin windows, stretched acrylic is used.

Most cabin windows consist of several panes of stretched acrylic. They feature an inner, middle and outer pane, all of which are made of acrylic. The three panes are also separated. This design acts as a safeguard in the event of a breach. Even if the inner or outer pane is breached, there will be at least one other pane intact. As a result, the airplane shouldn’t lose cabin pressure. Both cockpit windows and cabin windows are made of stretched acrylic. Cockpit windows simply have a layer of glass over them, which is finished with a hydrophobic coating.

In Conclusion

Cockpit windows aren’t made of ordinary glass — at least not entirely. They are made of stretched acrylic with a layer of glass over them. Known as stretched acrylic glass, it’s an exceptionally strong and durable material that can withstand the harsh environment of high-altitude flights.

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