Qantas is still eight months away from launching its first 787 – you know, the aircraft that will eventually be used to fly direct from Australia to London – but there’s already much hype around the new plane.

So-much-so that the media is looking into all the little details passengers can expect to find on board, including the electronically dimmable windows.

For those who haven’t flown in a Dreamliner before, the technology essentially scraps the need for window shutters by allowing flyers to shut out the light by simply pushing a button.

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Image: Boeing

The windows switch between different levels of shade from extremely bright to completely dark – essentially the longer you hold the button, the darker or brighter the window becomes.

It’s pretty cool so we’re not surprised by all the enthusiasm, albeit a little confused since several airlines are already utilising the technology on their 787s, including United which has the electronic windows on its Dreamliners flying between Sydney and Los Angeles. Here’s a clip of my friend testing it out on our trip to the US last year…

As well as acting as an on board novelty for guests, the electronic windows also mean flight attendants don’t have to wait or rely on passengers to raise their shutters as required during take off and touch down. Instead, crew can just manually switch everyone’s windows to ‘bright’ in the cabin control centre.

“It’s really important that everybody has the opportunity to have an uninterrupted sleep and not to have to worry about someone who wants to peek outside and fill the cabin with light.”

Rachelle N. Ornan-Stone, The Boeing Company Design Researcher

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Image: Boeing

“We wanted to make sure that sleep is guaranteed and that flight attendant’s have control.”

Qantas’ first 787 will take off in December this year on trans-Pacific services between Melbourne and Los Angeles.

Have you tried out a 787 electronic window yet?