Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

March 07 2016

This Part Of Flying Is Going To Change — And It’s Good News

Corey Fennessy


Boeing just filed for a new patent, and it has nothing to do with an airplane’s engine. Instead, it’s all about a somewhat surprising portion of the passenger experience: going to the bathroom.

You know the situation. In the middle of that three-hour flight to your annual conference, you realize that your morning coffee will not wait until arrival, and you head to the lavatory. You wait in line until the “Occupied” light dims, and you realize that you’re using the same facility as dozens of other passengers. If you’re worried about germs, going to the bathroom on a plane is, well, bad news.

Well, you’re in luck. Boeing has built a prototype lavatory that will take the germ concerns out of traveling. It’s not about primitive elements like hand sanitizer, though. Boeing’s design uses ultraviolet light to kill 99.9 percent of pathogens, and the entire design is essentially hands-free. Passengers don’t even have to touch the seat to lift or close the lid and seat. Check out a video of the prototype here.

“We wanted to make it more pleasing and inviting and also just help with the health and well-being of our customers,” Teresa King, Boeing Engineering Project Manager, says.

Jamie Childress, Associate Technical Fellow, Boeing Research & Technology, says that passengers do not need to be concerned about the typical dangers of skin exposure associated with UV light. Boeing’s design uses far UV, which will not lead to any sunburns.

“Far UV is a much shorter frequency,” Childress says. “It actually is not really harmful to humans.”

This is some pretty sophisticated science that includes molecular bonds and microbes, but the simple point is clear: traveling might just get a little less painful for passengers. Now, let’s hope that someone works to build a hypnosis tool that will help you forget if you’re stuck in the middle seat on the way to that next site visit.

Innovation isn’t confined to airplanes. Click here to learn how one airport is aiming to reduce your stress.

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