If you compare aircraft in the same category Boeing 737 with newer Airbus 320 and more recently Comac C919 or Irkut MC-21, it is striking to observe the changes in the cockpit windscreen design.

The trend seems clearly to be wider, larger windscreens. What are the reasons for that?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Because we're getting better and better at allowing pilots to see where they are going and what's going on around their aircraft? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Oct 11, 2017 at 9:59

1 Answer 1


The area of the windscreen is limited by the structural strength of the materials. The windscreen must withstand the difference between cabin pressure and outside air pressure during cruise. In addition, it must also survive impacts from birds and hail to a certain degree.

As material engineering advanced, we can produce larger windows and windscreen. For example, even though the Boeing 787 has a stronger pressure differential (6,000 feet cabin altitude vs 8,000 feet in traditional airliners), the passenger windows on the 787 are larger than previous productions.

  • $\begingroup$ Undoubtedly, your answer is true as far as it goes. Alas it presumes that bigger windows are inherently a good thing that was long desired but unfeasible for decades. The OP's question, IMHO, is at least partially questioning why is bigger better? Certainly I have cursed the sun during IFR which often makes it hard to see the instruments; smaller windows would be good thing then, or at least visors and/or window shades. $\endgroup$
    – wallyk
    Oct 11, 2017 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ I've never met a pilot who wished he had less visibility outside the cockpit. Shades work pretty well to block the sun when needed. $\endgroup$ Oct 12, 2017 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ do bigger cockpit windscreen, and more advanced materials allow for better aerodynamics? Or is it only a matter of vision for pilots? $\endgroup$ Nov 2, 2017 at 21:14

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