Ever noticed how airplane windows are always round or oval, but never square with sharp edges? Almost half a century ago, planes had square windows and here’s what happened.
In 1949, the world’s first commercial jetliner ‘de Havilland Comet’ was launched amidst much aplomb. But within a year, 2 of its planes crashed mid-air. Investigations revealed that the windows were the culprit. They were square-shaped.
Now what happens is that commercial planes fly at a height of more around 30,000 feet because air density is quite low at this altitude and it minimizes air resistance on the plane. And so, the pressure inside the cabin is maintained at a higher level so that passengers can breathe. But this creates a huge difference in pressures outside and inside the plane.
Square windows have weak points at the four corners, and under extreme stress due to pressure difference, there is a chance they would crack at the weak points. This is what happened in the Comet crashes.
Since then, the shape of plane windows was changed from square to round or oval. A round window has no weak or stress point and can bear the immense difference in pressure inside and outside the plane. The round windows really do ensure we have a safe flight.
This brings us to wonder, why have windows at all? Why the effort to create round windows, when you can eliminate the risk completely by not having any windows at all. Is it only for the passengers’ pleasure? What do you think?