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Here's The Reason Why Windows On Planes Are Round

Here's The Reason Why Windows On Planes Are Round

Have you ever sat in a plane and wondered why it's designed the way it is?

There are a whole host of technical requirements which make sure the plane can take off and land safely.

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But what about the windows? Why the hell are they always weirdly rounded? Is that an artistic design created at the birth of aeroplanes and everyone copied it? Or is it also something technical?

Well don't scratch your heads too heavily as we have found the answer for you.

It's all to do with pressure.

But let me give you a quick history lesson. In 1954, a plane carrying 35 people took off from Rome and was heading to London before it disintegrated in the sky and crashed into the Mediterranean Sea.

Why you ask? It had square windows.

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plane crash
plane crash

The fuselage after the crash Credit: YouTube/Real Engineering

Months later a similar passenger jet plane crashed into the same sea on its way from London to Johannesburg. Its fate was also caused by square windows.

The Telegraph did an investigation into the twin tragedies and found the shape of the portals resulted in metal fatigue. Specifically, the sharp corners would put more pressure on parts of the plane in high altitudes.

Once this investigation was published, airlines changed their designs to make their windows more circular. This allows the stress on the metal to flow more evenly around the edges.

But if that image is hard to picture in your head, watch this video - which sums it up nicely.

While we're on the topic of aeroplane windows: what the hell is with that hole?

I've never really understood why they're there, and I always freak out when I see frost appearing around it.

Is there a leak? Am I going to die!?

Luckily there is a reason for all these questions.

Mark Vanhoenacker wrote for Slate explaining they are what are known as 'bleed holes'. Mark works for British Airways, so he's a man that can be trusted.

According to Mark, these holes are wedged between two other panels, so the hole is not actually outside. It is in the middle of these three, while the one nearest, complete with greasy hair from the previous customer and child snot, is called the 'scratch pane'. The one on the outside is aptly called the 'outer pane' which, to be honest, is the one I give the most shit about. This is the one that protects us from the pressure outside.

That's great, but what the hell is the point of the hole?

plane window hole
plane window hole

Credit: PA

Marlowe Moncur, a man with a very trustworthy name and an aeronautical expert, explains: "The purpose of the small bleed hole in the [middle] pane is to allow pressure to equilibrate between the passenger cabin and the air gap between the panes, so that the cabin pressure during flight is applied to only the outer pane." So basically the difference in pressure inside and outside the cabin is immense (as you'd expect).

As Science Alert explains, the air inside the plane wants to get out to fix the imbalance. The hole, in this instance, reduces the amount of pressure on the pane. This means the outer pane bears the most pressure, meaning that if something caused added strain on the outer pane, it would be that one gives out.

This is important because if it was the others then you wouldn't be able to breathe from the pressure coming outside. This all sounds great but I think what it ultimately means is that there's less chance of us dying.

And there's another point to the hole, as well, according to Bret Jensen at Boeing Commercial Aeroplanes. This is to stop as much fog and frost forming on the window. When you look at the hole, it does tend to have a bit of frost around it.

Science lesson over.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Now, flight, Science, Airplane

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie is a Trending Journalist at LADbible. His first job was as a newsreader and journalist at the award winning Sydney radio station, Macquarie Radio. He was solely responsible for the content broadcast on multiple stations across Australia when the MH17, Germanwings and AirAsia disasters unfolded. Stewart has covered the conflict in Syria for LADbible, interviewing a doctor on the front line, and has contributed to the hugely successful UOKM8 campaign.

 

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