Why are all aircraft windows round?

Interesting Engineering

One might wonder why all aircraft windows are round in shape. It is just because it looks good or is there a scientific explanation behind it? Well you will be interested to know that indeed, there is a reasonable and scientific explanation attached to it, one that also involves your safety.

Initially, aircraft windows were squared in shape, but after three plane crashes that resulted from cracks near the window, scientists discovered the flaw in their initial design. Aircraft fly at very high altitudes, and this is because at high altitudes, there is less drag and turbulence, which also means a more efficient and comfortable flight.

aircraft windows view

[Image Source: The Foundry Community]

Flying at high altitudes also has consequences. For one, the atmospheric pressure is very low at such altitudes, so in order for the passengers and crew to survive, the cabin needs to be pressurized. Now here is the interesting part; the pressure inside the cabin and the pressure outside the cabin change differently as the aircraft climbs, this causes a difference in pressure between the outside and the inside of the cabin. The difference in pressure is distributed along the body of the aircraft.

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Normally, we prefer this pressure to be distributed on the aircraft as uniformly as possible. But the reality is that since windows are present on some parts of the fuselage, the pressure is redirected towards the sides of the window. If the window happens to be squared in shape, the pressure concentrates highly around the edges, which can cause cracks in the fuselage with time. A round window ensures that even if the pressure is diverted towards the side of the window, it is done as smoothly as possible.

So the next time you get a window seat, you might appreciate the incredible piece of engineering and thought that has been put into building just that part of the aircraft.

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