11:02 AM

A football
in the loo?

We spend a lot of time here at WoF thinking about many parts of airplanes, such as engines, avionics, performance envelopes, and unusually stale airline pretzels. But the one area we tend to avoid for obvious reasons is aircraft lavatories, or “the Loo” as they say on British Airways.

Straight up, I will say that I am no fan of airliner lavatories, especially those in the rear of an MD-80. Seems the -80 has a great deal of discernible yaw near the tail section, and locked in a tiny plastic room that smells rank is not the place I want to experience the autopilot working overtime to keep the tail generally lined up with the radome.

But last week, MSNBC ran a story on how the engineers at Airbus – at least those with very low seniority – are working night and day to fine-tune the “Loo” in the new A380. They want to make sure you can shove a football down any one of the A380's 18 toilets and still have a functioning sanitary system:

To handle the waste produced by up to 800 passengers, Airbus designed plumbing capable of pumping sewage along the 200-foot length of an A380 in about two seconds – That equates to more than 60 mph, which could be a sanitary speed record. To put the sanitary system through its paces, Airbus has built a 200-ton, three-story test rig that can be tilted upwards and downwards to simulate severe flying conditions.
If you think the airlines don't take the issue of functioning lavatories seriously, you'd be wrong:
"The toilets are very important to airlines. Some people put anything down there: towels, spoons, glasses, diapers. They behave as if they were at home," said Frank Dohrmann, head of design support and cabin testing at Airbus's main German plant. "If the temperature inside an aircraft varies 0.5 degrees it is no big deal. But if the toilets get jammed every passenger will remember it for years," he said. One airline insisted that Airbus test the toilet by shoving pairs of socks down the system to verify it wouldn't block, because blockages on a $300 million airliner could spell a public relations disaster.
There you have it...much more information than you really need about the funny little plastic room in the A380. With 18 of them on each plane, and at max load of 800 pax, that's 44 souls per crapper, which shouldn't be a problem unless they're serving those famous Exploding Habanero Burritos on the Madrid - Tokyo run tonight.

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