Emirates talks shades

The electro-mechanical shades that I was talking about the other day are gaining a fan base. Emirates reveals it has installed the shades on its very latest Airbus A380s, and that it is bringing them to its Boeing 777s. And the carrier’s passengers are applauding.

“My father flew on [the A380] and he said [the shade] was brilliant. If my 75-year old father can tell me about a feature on a plane, which is not the sort of thing he notices, that is quite something. There are little things like that that add to the overall experience,” Emirates vice-president for passenger communications Patrick Brannelly told me yesterday in a most illuminating interview, from which many a future blog will stem.

Brannelly went on to describe the shades: “The first one comes down and kicks out most of the sun. You still get a nice light, and the next one is totally opaque. There is two blinds.”

On a total aside, Lufthansa has just launched a web site for A380 fans. Check it out at http://a380.lufthansa.com Will Luftie opt for electro-mechanical shades for the big bird?

Beechcraft shade.JPGNow, for those of you who have not yet read the responses to my original shadalicious blog, let me urge you to do so…or simply read on.

A reader chimed in with an update on Hawker Beechcraft’s electronic window shades.

“This shade uses SPD (suspended particle device) technology that enables a window to go from clear to dark or anywhere in between with the touch of a button. Unlike the electrochomic technology being used by the Boeing 787, this switches from clear to dark (and back) in 1-2 seconds,” he says.

The posting is impressive. Here it is in its entirety:

I saw an article in the NY Times about the Qantas A380. The author, Paul Goldberger is an architect and Pulitzer Prize winner who wrote the article for the Times. He was awed by the window in the lavatory which went from dark to clear as soon as the door was shut, enabling one to see outside from 30,000 feet. This was an electronic window shade…no pull down shade or motorized shade, like ATG’s.

You can check out the “electronic window shades” by going to hawkerbeechcraft.com. Then click on the “buy parts” link, which then takes you to the RAPID page. Once there, you’ll see a box in the center of the page that changes from “Heated Seats” to “Free Shipping” to “Secure your investment” to “Electronic Window Shades”.

The total time sequence to see all four is 20 seconds. You can “click here to learn more” and see the specs for the SPD shades. It’s appears to be a great technology, which could replace motorized and pull down shades because the electronic shades are lighter, thus saving fuel, have no moving parts, and permit the light level to be finely tuned just like you’d do with a dimmer swith in your dining room.

A quick follow up to my last comment. The SPD “smart glass” technology I wrote about was used for over 60 partitions and windows at the University of Indiana’s “Health Information and Translational Sciences” building. Here’s the link to the press release.

(Diagram of Hawker Beechcraft shade above) 

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3 Responses to Emirates talks shades

  1. Ted March 10, 2009 at 3:46 pm #

    Hi Mary,

    Would you please contact me via private email. I have something important to tell you and don’t want to post it as a comment! Thanks.

  2. mustango March 11, 2009 at 10:29 am #

    Goldberger’s actual description of the Qantas A380 shades indicates a liquid crystal technology, not SPD:

    “The most extravagant detail of all, however, isn’t in the first-class cabin itself, but in its bathrooms. They are large, with an expansive sink and counter, and there’s a window. When you walk in, the window, the surface of which is covered in liquid crystals, appears to be translucent. (Who could look in from the outside to invade your privacy, I’ll never know.) When you lock the door it transforms, as if by magic, into a transparent surface.”


  3. Ted March 11, 2009 at 12:24 pm #

    I emailed Goldberger the other day about this very paragraph which you quote. I reminded him that LC(liquid crystal) was milky white in the “off state” and clear in the “on state”. There’s a picture of that Qantas lavatory window in a NYTimes article by Alice Rawsthorn and it’s clearly a very dark window. That eliminates LC since it is either clear or milky white(see pictures of LC in the Maybach roof for an example….milky white).

    I asked Goldberger if he knew what the technology was in the window that so impressed him. He emailed me back and said he “truly didn’t know” the answer to my question, but when he returned from his travels he’d help me get an answer.

    Journalists frequently mix up the different switchable glass technologies when writing about EC, LC, and SPD. It happens all the time in articles I’ve read.

    Yes, he specifically said “liquid crystal”, but he was either told that by the person giving him the tour of the A380, or assumed that on his own.

    However, it cannot be LC for the reasons I stated above. It’s either SPD or EC.

    Thanks for your input though, mustango.