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In a surprise move in the high-altitude game of thrones, Zodiac Aerospace has developed the Swiss Army Knife of aircraft toilets–destined to forever revolutionize the plane lavatory.
While a lot of high-level thinking goes into designing the perfect aircraft seat, and the customer-facing parts of lavatories have gotten some attention from designers, underneath the pretty composite frames, the toilet itself has had no love.
As we learned from Zodiac at the Aircraft Interiors Expo, aircraft mechanics have paid the price for this lack of innovation. But no more.
The Revolution is so radical a departure from conventional aircraft toilets that mechanics can service the unit in twenty-seconds—blindfolded. Seriously. We watched with our own eyes as an eager representative donned a googly-eyed sleeping mask to take the whole thing apart then put it all back together in half the time it took us to wonder why a googly-eyed sleeping mask was required. The results impressed us.
The primary goal of aircraft mechanics who have to service a toilet is getting out of there as soon as possible. But taking out a whole aircraft toilet takes time. Traditional units are large assembly parts which come in a right-hand or left-hand pipe version. This means airlines have to keep extra inventory on their shelves since they can’t guess which type of pipe will break first. Because traditional units are a full assemblies, mechanics have to take the whole toilet out—even for something as minor as a scratch on the bowl.
It’s a difficult and unpleasant task, performed in a tight space where fresh air is at a premium, and it’s far more work than it otta be.
The Revolution ends the tyranny of the traditional toilet. It consists of a number of interchangeable sub-assembly parts–and the pipe is reversible. This way, airlines only have to keep the subassemblies on their shelves, all parts fit all toilets, and mechanics only need to quickly replace the offending part.
But that’s not all. The very best part of the Revolution, in our view, is the bowl. Traditional aircraft toilet bowls are stainless steel coated in Teflon (the things you learn!). Over time, the same thing happens to the Teflon on those toilets as the Teflon coating on your pans at home. With enough use, the situation gets sticky.
Zodiac has done away with the Teflon-coated stainless steel bowl and replaced it with a new composite. “Our new bowl is made out of a material which has similar or higher lubricity to the current Teflon and can offer up to a 30% weight savings from the traditional stainless steel bowl,” Zodiac explains. Love that word ‘lubricity’. Anyway, that’s a thing you want.
For passengers, this means a more reliable, well-maintained, and clean toilet. For airlines, it’s a cost-savings. But for aircraft mechanics, this is a brave new world where the most unpleasant task imaginable becomes significantly less yucky. Revolution indeed.