The Slightly Scary Reason Why Airplane Windows Are Round

Have you every wondered why airplane windows are round rather than square? Turns out they’re not shaped like eggs for style reasons – it’s actually to prevent a pretty scary thing from happening.

Early airplane designs called for square windows. After all, square windows were the norm in vehicles and homes. However, the rise of the commercial jetliner in the 1950s changed everything.

These newer, larger planes were able to ascend to higher altitudes and reach greater speeds than their predecessors. They were meant to be the aircraft of the future, so everyone was shocked when two jetliners literally disintegrated in midair.

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What went wrong? It all came down to the windows. Turns out, the sharp corners of the squared-off glass weren’t able to withstand the greater pressure and stress that increased speed and altitude brought. The four corners of the windows were also weakened by repeated pressurization, making them more likely to give out under the strain of air pressure difference.

Designers quickly figured out that circular glass is the way to go. Circles have no corners and are much better at distributing stress and pressure. They’re less likely to crack or deform under the strain of long-haul flights at high altitudes.

So the next time you’re gazing out at the clouds, be thankful your window can handle the stress of flying even if you’re barely hanging in there. And if you’re looking to get a bit comfier in the air, check out this secret button on your airplane seat that can instantly give you more room.