Airplane Toilet

How A Toilet Works On An Airplane

Have you ever wondered how a toilet works on an airplane? At Big B’s Plumbing, we can’t help but be passionate about our trade that includes all phases of plumbing. Most of us have flown on an airplane before. Did you ever wonder how the toilet works and where does “IT” all goes? For obvious reasons toilets have a bad rap but we’re going to focus on the technical side of them. What an amazing device and when you stop and think, where would we be without them? Over the years toilets have often been referred to as a commode.   

Airplane Toilet
Aircraft lavatory commode aboard a jetliner airplane.

A Vacuum Is Applied To Suck The Toilet Waste

A conventional toilet has a tank and bowl. When you flush the toilet it lifts the flapper and water is released, gravity then pulls the waste down the drain to our septic tank or sewer system. Turbulence is the main reason a standard commode cannot be used on an airplane, boat, train or bus. In an airplane commode, a vacuum is applied to suck the waste into an onboard tank.  As one might

The plane at the airport on loading

think, wastewater can’t be released in flight from within the plane. The valve to release the sewage is on the outside of the aircraft. A grounds crew removes the wastewater after the plane lands.

Sewage Does Not Fall From The Sky

The toilet uses approximately two liters of water along with blue sanitizing liquid to clean the toilet bowl. When the commode is flushed, a vacuum is activated clearing and sanitizing the bowl. The water is a third of the water used by a conventional commode. The same holds true for buses, trains, and boats.

Regardless of the fact that water waste storage tanks cannot activate from the cabin, the FAA still receives reports of sewage falling from the sky. These complaints usually come in the fall when birds are in the migration season.

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