When we make mirrors for the aircraft industry, these manufacturers obsess over three things: the weight of the mirror, its ability to withstand impact, and its resistance to fire. There is only one mirror material that can meet the highest standards for all three of these criteria—polycarbonate.
Resistance to Fire
One of the biggest fears of anyone in the aviation industry is an aircraft catching on fire—either in the air or once a troubled plane lands. Every component built into an aircraft must be constructed with this fear in mind—including the mirrors.
This starts with material selection. For mirrors slated for use in aircraft, we use special, fire-retardant grade polycarbonate that has been tested and certified for the Federal Aviation Administration’s requirements regarding airline componentry. These strict rules govern exactly which materials can withstand the extraordinary heat produced by all kinds of fires.
The good news is this: FAA-certified, fire-retardant polycarbonate is also very light. It has a specific gravity of 1.2—half that of soda-lime glass’s specific gravity of 2.4. A piece of polycarbonate is 50 percent lighter than its glass counterpart of the same thickness and same size. Weight is crucial not only for getting the plane off the ground, but also for fuel efficiency during flight.
Weight aside, it simply isn’t safe to have a lot of glass on an airplane. Therefore, mirrors in airplane bathrooms, luggage bins and on cabin doors are all made of fire-retardant polycarbonate.
Polycarbonate is not only light and fire resistant—it is also unbelievably rugged.
We make convex mirrors that are used in the luggage bins of passenger jets. These mirrors are designed to allow shorter people to see into the entire interior of the luggage bin without having to stand on something to gain the appropriate field of vision.
Between luggage being stuffed in and torn out, as well as the impact of the bin doors opening and closing, these mirrors are bumped and smashed by every conceivable object on a regular basis.
They simply never break.
Polycarbonate is the only material that can meet the high standards of airframe manufacturers in all three areas of concern. When manufactured by expert craftsmen who understand the science behind the product, these mirrors are the lightest, most durable and safest mirrors in the world.