Boeing is currently looking into the possibility of installing airplane toilets with a built-in self-cleaning technology that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to sanitize the toilet’s surfaces. With harmless Far UV light, which is different from UVA or UVB light used in tanning beds, the system will have toilets on an aircraft cleaned within just three seconds while killing an estimated 99.99 percent of pathogens. Toilet seats will lift and close automatically when the lavatory is unoccupied to ensure all surfaces are exposed during the cleaning cycle.
Still under further studies and research, the design also includes a hands-free tap, soap dispenser, rubbish bin flap, and a hand dryer, along with a hands-free door latch and a vacuum vent system for the floor. So far, Boeing says tests on the prototype have shown that the innovation can minimize the growth and potential transmission of disease-causing microorganisms.
“We believe that using the far UV is the key to making those surfaces cleaner,” says Teresa King, the principal investigator of the product development team. “We position the lights throughout the lavatory so that it floods the touch surfaces like the toilet seat, sink, countertops, etc. with the UV light. This sanitizing even eliminates odors from bacteria so that passengers can have a more pleasant experience.”