On average, 8 million people fly everyday. Some like to read, others prefer to sleep, and many opt for the plane’s entertainment system to take advantage of their movie selection. But no matter what, chances are that as a passenger on plane, you’re going to have to use the plane lavatory — whether you want to or not.
However the popular aversion to plane bathrooms, particularly because of sanitation worries, may have an end in sight — Chicago-based Boeing Co. said on Thursday that it has invented an airplane lavatory that cleans itself.
Jeanne Yu, Boeing Commercial Airplanes director of environmental performance said, “We’re trying to alleviate the anxiety we all face when using a restroom that gets a workout during a flight.”
The prototype uses self-cleaning technology to kill 99.9% of germs, using ultraviolet light to clean itself after every use — in just three seconds.
Yu explained that in the prototype, “We position the lights throughout the lavatory so that it floods the touch surfaces like the toilet seat, sink and counter tops with the UV light once a person exits the lavatory. This sanitizing even helps eliminate odors.”
Boeing uses Far UV light, which, it says, is different from the harmful UVA or UVB lights found on tanning beds. The new design also features a toilet seat that lifts and closes on its own, a hands-free faucet, soap dispenser, trash flap, and hand towel.
Some of the touchless features are already in use on Boeing planes, said Yu, but the combination with the new UV sanitizing “will give passengers even more protection from germs and make for an even better flying experience.”
The concept, which Boeing has patented, will “require further study before it can be offered to airlines,” so the innovative new design may not become a reality just yet.