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Plastics in the air: New material could replace stretched acrylic in airplane windows

This week's Paris Air Show was the launch pad for a new breed of plastic airplane passenger-cabin windows, with the supplier, who developed the material used and manufactured the windows, claiming it offers improved craze-resistance and performance compared to the incumbent material, stretched acrylic.

This week's Paris Air Show was the launch pad for a new breed of plastic airplane passenger-cabin windows, with the supplier, who developed the material used and manufactured the windows, claiming it offers improved craze-resistance and performance compared to the incumbent material, stretched acrylic.

PPG new plastic for aircraft windows
PPG's Jimmy Black puts the finishing touches on a passenger window made from Opticor for the Gulfsream 650.
The Paris Air Show opened June 20 and runs through June 26 at the Le Bourget exhibition center. One of the exhibitors, PPG Industries, sent its aerospace transparencies group to the event, where it has announced the launch of what it terms a "craze-resistant, high-performance aerospace transparency material" using a plastic the company has developed and is marketing under the name Opticor.

PPG Aerospace is touting Opticor as the first new transparent plastic developed in more than 50 years for aerospace applications. Adds Anthony Stone, global director for new business development and innovations for transparencies at the supplier, "Opticor advanced transparency material meets the aerospace industry's needs for a lightweight transparent plastic that maintains optical clarity while offering the ability to be formed into complex shapes. We expect it to replace stretched acrylic for passenger-cabin windows because it weighs less and has better craze and fire resistance, and it will be used in cockpit windows because it is an excellent substrate for metallic and nonmetallic coatings."

PPG intends to install equipment for manufacturing Opticor at its Sylmar, CA, aerospace transparencies facility and will fabricate windows from the material there and at facilities in Huntsville, AL, and Casaletto Vaprio, Italy. "As both the window fabricator and the manufacturer of the plastic with which the windows are made, we will be better able to control quality as well as supply," Stone said.

Opticor advanced transparency material has been selected by Gulfstream for the outboard surface of the passenger-cabin windows in the new G650 business jet, Stone said. The proprietary PPG plastic is laminated to stretched acrylic for increased stiffness and assembled with an inboard coated glass panel that can be heated for antifogging. Opticor has met the requirements of Federal Aviation Administration qualification testing in support of the aircraft type certificate. PPG is displaying a G650 cabin window at its booth during the Paris Air Show.

PPG Industries is best known as a supplier of coatings and specialty chemicals.

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