Re: Cockpit Windows

Date:         20 Jan 98 01:29:32 
From: (Robert Dorsett)
Organization: Netcom Online Communications Services (408-241-9760 login: guest)
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In article <airliners.1998.39@ohare.Chicago.COM> Colleen M Wabiszewski <> writes:
>>Pardon me if this is a stupid question, but why do older planes (such as
>>a Boeing 707, 727, or 737, and a DC-8 or -9 and MD-80) have an extra
>>cockpit window (or two) on top of the main row of cockpit windows?  And
>>why do newer, but similarly sized planes such as the A320 family and the
>>757 have just one row of cockpit windows?
>The extra windows are known as eyebrow windows (perhaps because they
>supposedly look like eyebrows on the aircraft from the outside? who
>knows where some of these terms come from).  In older aircraft they were
>used for celestial navigation, before the advent of GPS and other
>technological marvels.

Several people seem to think this is the reason, but I have my doubts.
My admittedly imperfect memory recalls that the 707 and at least some
747s had a periscope that the navigator could attach the sextant to.
The navigator would establish a fix and provide steering instructions to
the crew.

I'd also question the eyebrow for even rough navigation.  Seems to me
you'd pick a bright star visible in a main window and use that.

Also, a lot of these airplanes are really short-range aircraft, which
would normally be using alternate navigation methods (i.e., land-based
radio or visual aids) to get the job done.

My guess is the eyebrows (some of which are very large) are used for
see & avoid, originating in an era when flying, rather than managing, the
airplane was acknowledged as a primary responsibility of the flight crew.
So you'd want to have as good visibility as possible.  Modern aircraft
probably get rid of them for maintenance or noise reasons.  Plus, they
tend to have overall better visibility out the main windows when compared
to the main windows of older airplanes.

Of course, I could be completely wrong.

>They are no longer a requirement, although some
>newer aircraft still have them for technical or sentimental reasons.  We
>did a survey here of airline pilots and asked them how they felt about
>removing the windows.  We expected the response to be positive, as many
>pilots stuff the windows with paper to cut down on the glare in the
>cockpit.  On the whole, however, most respondees said the windows can be
>useful in watching out for traffic, they make the cockpit feel more
>"open," and, to quote one pilot, "I like to look at the stars."

Sounds good to me. :-)

Robert Dorsett                         Moderator, sci.aeronautics.simulation               

           "Bother," said Pooh when his engine quit on take-off.