Maintenance Matters

August 2007 Issue

Replacement Glass: Proactive Upgrades

Acrylic aircraft windshields and side windows don’t last forever. Upgrading to thicker aviation glass cuts noise and improves bird strike resistance.

We read in a blog the other day that discarded plastic bags in a landfill are thought to last 500 years before degrading. With that useless bit of trivia in mind, we would be thrilled if an aircraft windshield—also plastic, mind you—would last a tenth as long. Actually, they probably do last that long, it’s just that you can’t see out of them any longer. For that reason, there’s a lively business in the aircraft replacement glass market. We call it "glass," by the way, as a term of art. Apart from a few exceptions on larger aircraft with heated windshields, all of the windows in light airplanes are made of plastic, specifically cast acrylic commonly called by the trade name Plexiglas, although not all manufacturers of aircraft windows use Plexiglas. In fact, a material called Spartech (formerly Polycast) seems to be the favored product.

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