Hands-free access to the lavatory is the goal for Diehl Aerosystems (7G30). The German company is showing an electrically driven toilet door for the first time since the idea came up two years ago. The aim is to reduce the area for potential bacterial contamination and thus improve hygiene levels and passenger comfort.
The present demonstrator system is operated through push buttons on the in- and outside of the lavatory wall, but the handling could be done through touch-free sensors in future.
Aside from greater hygiene, Diehl expects that the drive system will reduce wear and tear as the mechanical components will be strained more evenly than through manual operation, says Dirk Degering, sales and retrofit manager.
The electric motor is installed on the inside lavatory wall above the opening and drives the door via a tooth belt. The system works only on bi-fold doors where the top corner slides back and forth within a rail. This design is used mostly on widebody aircraft while narrowbodies tend to be equipped with lavatories with single-blade doors, says Degering.
The system will add 2-4kg (4.4-4.8lb) weight per door. While the current demonstrator makes a noticeable sound, this should be reduced to below the ambient noise level in future.
A final, certified system is to become available until early 2015, says Degering. No airline has thus far requested such as system though, he adds.
But hands-free operation is not just a matter for future equipment - UK-based aircraft interior specialist MacCarthy (7G23) refurbishes lavatories and installs touch-free switches for the flushing mechanism, water tabs and waste bins if requested.
Such washroom makeover may go beyond cleaning and overhauling the existing installations and merely applying new surfaces. With its equipment design and manufacturing approvals, the company can completely rebuild lavatories according to customer requirements.
More decorative lighting has been a main recent trend, says Richard Jolley, industrial design engineer at the firm. The company shows a lavatory with a worktop made from translucent Corian, which can be embellished with a LED pattern from below.
US maintenance provider Timco Aviation Services has meanwhile revealed that a "leading global airline" selected its "FeatherWeight" toilets to upgrade the carrier's Boeing 767 aircraft. The sanitary monument slashes weight by around 20% over standard equipment due to "innovative materials and precision engineering", according to Timco. The new customer is the fifth airline to have selected the lightweigth solution.