Self-cleaning lavatory unveiled by Boeing

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Engineers and designers at Boeing have developed a prototype of a self-cleaning lavatory that uses far ultraviolet (FUV) light to kill 99.99% of germs.

The system is designed to disinfect all surfaces after every use, in three seconds. The FUV light, which Boeing emphasizes is not harmful to people, would only be activated when the lavatory is unoccupied. Boeing has filed for a patent for this concept.

“We’re trying to alleviate the anxiety we all face when using a restroom that gets a workout during a flight,” said Jeanne Yu, director of environmental performance at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “In the prototype, we position the lights throughout the lavatory so that it floods the touch surfaces like the toilet seat, sink and countertops with the UV light once a person exits the lavatory. This sanitizing even helps eliminate odors.”

The system would lift and close the toilet seat by itself so that all surfaces are exposed during the cleaning cycle. The design also incorporates a hands-free faucet, soap dispenser, trash flap, toilet lid and seat, and a hand dryer. A hands-free door latch and a vacuum vent system for the floor are also under study, all to keep the lavatory as hygienic as possible between scheduled cleaning.

“Some of the touchless features are already in use on some Boeing aircraft today,” said Yu. “But combining that with the new UV sanitizing will give passengers even more protection from germs and make for an even better flying experience.”

The Clean Lavatory will require further study before it can be implemented. It is a finalist in the Crystal Cabin Awards, which will be announced at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, on April 5, 2016.

March 9, 2016

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Izzy has been part of the Business Jet Interiors International team since its second issue, and the editor since 2011. She also edits Auditoria, Railway Interiors International and Winter Sports Technology International. Outside of work, Izzy is rediscovering her love of art by learning how to paint with watercolors.

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