Qantas Project Sunrise A350s will have electric ‘blackout windows’

The ‘e-glass’ technology will let you – or the cabin crew – dim the plane’s windows at the touch of a button.

By David Flynn, October 26 2023
Qantas Project Sunrise A350s will have electric ‘blackout windows’

Qantas’ direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York won’t only skip stopovers at the likes of Singapore, Perth and Los Angeles – they’ll also leave the humble window shade behind.

Those pull-down plastic panels will be replaced by electronically dimmable windows which go from clear to black at the touch of a button.

It’s similar to what’s already on the Boeing 787 – indeed, these ‘e-windows’ has been built into every Dreamliner since the jet launched in 2011 – and works the same way.

The windows are actually two thin pieces of glass with a layer of transparent electrochroamatic gel sandwiched between them; that gel changes from light to dark and back again in response to electric current passed through it.

But the Airbus A350 version is far more advanced than Boeing’s, and in fact has only just become available, making its debut early this year on the first Starlux A350.

From clear to ultra-dark

It’s fast – on a flight of Airbus’ own Airspace Explore A350 jet, Executive Traveller found the windows went from clear to black in far less time than on the Dreamliner, and were far more responsive to each gentle tap of an integrated dimmer strip just beneath the window.

Holding that button down quickly steps the A350 windows through the dimming process from clear to black.

And when we say black, we mean it. Forget about that ‘Flushmatic Blue’ of the Boeing 787.

Now you see things, now you don't: dimmable e-windows on the Boeing 787.
Now you see things, now you don't: dimmable e-windows on the Boeing 787.

The A350’s e-windows go almost totally black – Airbus and window-maker Gentex call it an ‘ultra-dark’ setting – to the point where it’s impossible to see outside (Airbus claims its A350 windows block out 99.99% of visible light).

Of course, this isn’t a simple binary either-or scenario: putting the dimmable window into a translucent setting anywhere along the range lets some natural light in, but without the glare and intensity of even a partly-open window shade.

Gentex also claims the A350 windows block infra-red waves from entering and warming up the cabin.

And as on the Boeing 787, cabin crew are able to control the windows from the front of the plane, over-riding passengers’ individual per-window settings.

It’s the high-tech equivalent to walking though the cabin and asking passengers to either raise or lower their window shades, especially to avoid inconveniencing fellow travellers who might be trying to sleep.

No sunrise on Project Sunrise flights?

A Qantas spokesperson confirmed to Executive Traveller that the Project Sunrise A350s – the first of which will arrive towards the end of 2025 – will all sport this same window tech.

And while Project Sunrise is named for the two sunrises which passengers could see on their marathon journey from one side of the globe to the other, it’s arguable that the last thing you need on these 18-22 hour flights is a blast of bright sunrise beaming into the cabin at the oddest of hours.

While natural light is welcome at the appropriate time, Qantas intends to help travellers’ body clocks overcome jet-lag with the aid of LED lighting schemes throughout the cabin.

Gentle transitions through a range of scientifically-tested colours and intensities will resync circadian rhythms, alongside an inflight menu designed to encourage wakefulness and sleep across a revised schedule designed for these non-stop flights.

16 Feb 2017

Total posts 28

I loathe dimmable windows ! That and their narrow seats are the key reasons I avoid the 787 whenever I can. 

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

Agreed. Those windows are the worst part of the 787s. Especially the central override control system.

12 Aug 2022

Total posts 2

i agree, especially in Biz Class where peeping out 1/8th open window has little effect on others

why fly around the world and miss the Atlas Mountains, the equatorial thunderclouds,

the fleets of oil tankers in the Gulf

the lightning storms in Europe

the village lights of India

the lights of other aircraft we pass in the night  

the first light of dawn

how boring some are to have no interest at all in gazing in wonderment at the world passing beneath us

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 May 2013

Total posts 24

I personally LIKE the electronically dimable windows, and particularly like the the crew can operate them for the entire cabin (although usually giving passengers the ability to override those settings).

10 May 2020

Total posts 3

This is great news! There's nothing worse than an arrogant traveller who won't pull down their windows at the appropriate times.

If you want to see...
Atlas Mountains, the equatorial thunderclouds,
the fleets of oil tankers in the Gulf
the lightning storms in Europe
the village lights of India
the lights of other aircraft we pass in the night 
the first light of dawn
...have some consideration for others and check out Google Images.

06 Feb 2021

Total posts 57

How about you show some consideration ?  If you want to sleep when others want to look at the scenery below, put on an eyeshade.  You are the arrogant one expecting everyone on the plane has to fit in with what you want.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 240

So if a person is playing loud music through their iPhone speaker, and everyone sitting around them doesn't want to listen to that music, you are saying all those people should put in earplugs because they are arrogant and expect everyone on the plane to fit in with what they want?

No, Ian, this is about what the majority want, and that's how society works or at least how civilised people behave. If it's a flight segment when most people are sleeping or want to sleep, then that's the natural or 'default' state of the environment at that time, so somebody who wants to have their window wide open with bright sunlight pouring into the cabin because 'they' want the view is the arrogant and inconsiderate one.

06 Feb 2021

Total posts 57

Why bring the subject of loud music up, that is a completely irrelevant comparison.  Anyone playing loud music that is audible on a plane to other passenger should have their apparatus seized if they refuse to turn it off.  

I have yet to be on a flight where the cabin crew have taken a poll amongst the passengers on whether the majority want the shades open or shut, hence claims this is about what the majority want doesn’t really cut it, as that is a question that is never asked.  It seems to me that the ability to close all of the shades electronically will result in staff doing so, irrespective at times of what many passengers probably would prefer. 

No one, including me, is saying the window shades should be open all the time on every flight, my point was, if not clear, that just because a few people on the plane feel the blinds should be shut so they can have a sleep, it is unreasonable to demand that is what happens through the entire plane, if some passengers wish to look out the window for part of the journey. 

Awww. Does it hurt when others want to appreciate the world around them? 


22 Jan 2013

Total posts 100

That what eye shades are for during the day. Maybe people wanting a dark cabin even in the day are the arrogant ones?

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

13 Jun 2013

Total posts 27

The dimmable windows are a scourge of flying on modern aircraft.  Intensely dislike them and the crew's attitude of "nope, sorry" when asked to please allow some daylight in.  I specifically choose airlines that allow passengers to choose how much, or how little natural light, they want.

03 May 2021

Total posts 42

Also if it’s a night sunset or sunrise the dimmable windows often don’t even do a good job of blocking the sun out, on the 787 at least.


17 May 2017

Total posts 17

Hence why I always insist on a window seat !!

07 Dec 2012

Total posts 6

Qantas need to adopt every weight saving measure they can to maximise the range of the 350 - it will do what is operationally necessary to do so.

27 Oct 2023

Total posts 1

I would rather look in wonder at the sites blindsided describes so well, one of the reasons to be up there in the first place. And the only thing worse than those shades is the idea of spending 20 hours in an aircraft, instead of the pleasures of short stopovers. Why fly over Singapore or somewhere like it when you can stop for a day? Include me out.


16 May 2015

Total posts 20

I agree. One of the great joys of flying is seeing places and features you've heard about, and which are so different.

I seem to remember an Editorial in the QANTAS magazine where the editor was saying how much she enjoyed staring down from the skies. Would be nice if we were allowed to.

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 67

All well and good until Cabin Crew takes control and refuse to hand back control to the passengers and use sneaky industry tips such as "create dark cabin" so that passengers are more subdued and less likely to order food and beverage or request for service.

hich means more gossip time in the back galley!!!!!


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 940

I just don't know who is right or who is wrong here on all these comments, I like the tech in the 787 windows but I also like seeing the sights. People often think I'm a first time traveller as I ponder out the window checking all the sights for a 1000th time.

22 Sep 2017

Total posts 72

Re the previous comments, I hope that Qantas adheres to their previous intentions to combat jetlag, by opening and closing the blinds according to the destination's daylight hours.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 240

That's what they said at some Sunrise discussion a while back, can't remember when but the whole idea is to help people get 'in sync' with the destination. But we'd have to wait until we know departure times of Sunrise flights from London and New York to see how those line up with AU times. But at least for New York you'd be leaving at night so even with the windows 'open' you wouldn't see much, well you certainly wouldn't have sunlight coming in.

24 May 2022

Total posts 1

I hope these new windows don't block GPS signals like the ones on the 787 do. One of the biggest hassles I have with them is that I can't get a signal in the cabin, so my electronic flight bag can't show me the air-routes, locations, etc that we're on and likely to be using. Far better detail and information than the inflight map provides, especially with the window open so I can look down on the world below (admittedly not that great over the Pacific, but amazing over Oz, the Middle East, Himalayas, etc - even Europe is great to view :) ).

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 240

I think the issue with blocking GPS isn't the window as much as it is the actual 787 itself, I find the composite fuselage always makes it much slower for my phone to log onto the local mobile network when I switch off 'flight mode' upon landing compared to a 777 or A380. Even holding the phone up to the 787 window doesn't seem to have much impact.


03 May 2013

Total posts 667

Great solution for the arrogant one person on nearly every flight who keeps their window shade open with sun blaring when everyone is trying to sleep. At least the A350 is full black. I agree cc need control when we are trying to sleep and relinquish control other times.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 240

I like the idea of these as seen on the 787 but Boeing's implementation is terrible, not just the blue tint but how slow these are, you tap the button and nothing happens so you tap it again and again and then the effect finally kicks in but over-shoots where you wanted it to be so you have to back up. The Airbus version sounds better in every way: a proper clear window, fast, transitions, accurate touch-control and fully black if that's what you want.

As to people complaining about the cabin crew being able to 'close' all the windows, this would normally happen during the sleep part of a flight and that's exactly what you want, not somebody keeping their window open for the view and then letting light into the cabin to disturb others. People these days seem only to think about themselves and not consider other people.

Maybe the A350s will also let the cabin crew set a range of settings, so the windows might go from black to maybe 50% but not fully clear. That should satisfy some people. But really, if it's the middle of the day where the aircraft is flying but night-time as far as the passenger's timezone, then I can't see why the windows should not all be 'closed' for the sake of most passengers who want to relax or sleep, instead of letting a few people open them and disturb everyone else.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 193

Next-why bother to have windows at all? seems that QF wants to control what can you see or not from their planes-if light bothers you put on a facemask it's free!

27 Aug 2017

Total posts 23

Dimmable windows are one thing. Overhead bins that close quietly need dealing with.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 240

I've flown on a few A350s, the bins will close softly if you are gentle with them but most people SLAM them hard!

16 Jun 2023

Total posts 5

If you want to sleep on a day flight, put on the eye shades! On day flights (which I choose whenever I can) I want to stay in daylight and awake. For instance two weeks ago on EVA Air Taipei to Brisbane departing 9am, day flight. Much of the cabin I would guess originated in Taipei, and most of us would have slept during the normal night time. And will go to bed upon arriving in BNE in the evening. So I DON’T want to sleep during the day on this flight, or for my body go into sleep mode due to lack of light. This will give you jet lag effects on a flight where there is little time difference, why would you do that?

The crew plunged the cabin (new 787, which do go black, not the old dark blue flushomatic) into darkness after breakfast (which was lunch, another story), but two of us opened to about 80% the window shades and enjoyed the light and the view.  To the crew’s credit they didn’t ask us to close, but on US aircraft this has been a big bone of contention - who should control the shades? Some airline crews have been told to NOT lock the shades in black, and leave it to the pax. Some crews, I suspect, want the blanket over the cockys cage effect - darken the room and it all goes quiet, with few demands.


11 May 2015

Total posts 29

I have done enough of 19 hours non stop flights in very comfortable SQ business class so I will never take the QF sunrise flights  black windows or not. I always have a window seat and have the blind up unless its very bright direct sunlight. The views beat any movies and I like to read with outside light. The way to beat jetlag is to sleep if its dark outside and stay awake when its sunlight outside and keep flying west by day and for 14 or 15 hours at the most. If you pay the big money for first or business seat with doors you should have control of your window not the crew. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jun 2015

Total posts 5

It’s about choice and you cannot please everyone. Anything that can be done to assist passengers with jet lag has to be a plus. 

These windows can be set so that only a negligible amount of light is transmitted (less than what one gets from minimal cabin lighting) while one can still see through, i.e. people can sleep undisturbed by light from outside while the windows still give a view. This particular feature makes them superior to the mechanical blinds.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2013

Total posts 53

Geez, I wonder how we have survived without this technology in the past. 


19 Jun 2013

Total posts 60

This is just the old “recline/don’t recline” thing. I’m with those who appreciate the world outside & down below, and don’t wish to sit in darkness for hours during the day, just so the FAs can have more time to gossip in the galley, thanks.

As for whoever it was said that if you want to see those things (clouds, mountains, etc etc), look at photos, why bother travelling? Biz can be done by Zoom 99% of the time, and you can see & experience new & exciting things on YouTube. Let the rest of us with some soul still remaining, enjoy ourselves. 

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 163

I can only see this putting more competition on isle seats and no doubt in turn becoming a revenue raising exercise as the novelty of a window seat will become redundant - not to mention the increase in anxiety and claustrophobia occurrences with some passengers. It will save weight and fuel costs by removing the manual window blinds, but a bigger cost may waiting.

Really, who wants to be confined in a windowless tube for 20+ hours. Don't some prisons offer this as punishment with their isolation cells.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

26 Sep 2018

Total posts 7

I agree 100% with blindsided and Ian.   

The world is fantastic from above and it is a marvel to view it. 

Maybe a little bit different in this case because of the length of the flight.......... but normally it is a very simple equation......... if you don't want daylight - take a night flight.  I take daylight flights because I like daylight....... why should I have to bow to some inconsiderate person that chose a day flight but wants to turn it into a night flight?  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Oct 2017

Total posts 93

Oh Dear ! First world problems here. Electronic or not every time I've flown passengers or myself have always done the right thing when the sun comes streaming through from a low angle onto faces. Other than then who cares ?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2018

Total posts 25

First world problems indeed!!   I have just completed my third RTW trip in six years and at 71 and after a lifetime of short haul and long-haul trips beginning with a roaring DC3 loop around BrisVegas at age 10 I still prefer an aisle for extended journeys.   Seeing icebergs in the North Pacific enroute SFO to NRT from 40,000ft is exciting, but still 8 miles away ... a close in photo is much more enjoyable.   The true joy of J class is the freedom to move about not only your own space, but around the cabin where door windows can be enjoyed while stretching.   Sleep is a wonderful way to pass the long hours and opportunity to self-adjust for time zone at your destination.   Masks are comfortable ... try sleeping with a CPAP in a narrow bed.   I have eschewed Qantas for decent airline service and heartily recommend all others do the same.

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