Anyone who has ever been on a plane to head away on holiday or travel for business purposes knows that the airplane bathroom isn’t exactly the nicest place to visit during those hours in the air. For starters, it’s really cramped and often feels like you’ve accidentally walked into a cupboard. Secondly, using a bathroom that’s also being used by dozens of other sweaty people who are stuck in a metal tube with nowhere else to go can be a huge turn-off. As can the mess left behind by some of the less tidy fellow passengers. And finally, the smell. Oh god, the smell!
Airplane bathrooms aren’t cleaned until the plane touches back on solid earth, so any mess left while you’re up in the air, unfortunately, has to be suffered by everyone else on the plane. Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has come up with a way to clean the bathrooms in the air with a self-cleaning airplane bathroom. Like those fancy toilets that come with deodorizers, the bathroom will clean itself after each visitor to kill 99.99% of germs lingering behind. It does this by using a far UV light.
The UV light isn’t the same type of light that you’ll find in tanning salons as it’s only harmful to microbes and not humans. Close the door and the light will switch on, ridding the bathroom of any germs left behind. The toilet seat will also automatically rise so the inside of the toilet won’t miss out on any of the germ-killing action. Best of all, it only takes 3 seconds so people waiting in the inevitable bathroom queue won’t have to wait much longer.
“The UV light destroys all known microbes by literally making them explode,” said Jamie Childress, Associate Technical Fellow, and a BR&T engineer. “It matches the resonant frequency of the molecular bonds on the outside of the microbes.” – Boeing
It even eliminates odours from the air, so you’ll no longer have to hold your nose whenever you walk into one.
But what if you want to keep your hands germ-free too? Boeing has tackled that by making almost everything in the bathroom hands-free. Waving your hand over the toilet will lift the seat up while the tap, soap dispenser, hand dryer and even the bin all have sensors. The only thing that’s not hands-free is the door handle, which might be a bad thing as we’re not exactly great at washing our hands. Thankfully, the Boeing team is working on this too.
So, what do you think? Will you be more likely to use the bathroom on a short-haul flight if Boeing went ahead and installed these bathrooms in their planes?
For more airplane bathroom fun you can read about why airplane bathrooms still have ashtrays.
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