This is what happens when you flush at 35,000 feet…
…er, just kidding.
Next time you pay a visit to the WC mid-flight, spare a thought for James Kemper. In a masterpiece of aviation engineering, he conceived the vacuum toilet – something for which every airline passenger since the 1980s should be thankful for.
Where a typical toilet relies on a combination of water and gravity to flush, Kemper’s invention uses a vacuum to suck the non-stick (just like a modern day frying pan) bowl clear of its contents.
That really loud sound you hear after when you flush is the vacuum suctioning waste away. Toilets typically secrete a little sanitizing solution during the suction process for hygiene and odour-busting.
Removing all that water from the equation not only helped cut out turbulence-induced spills, but also greatly reduced the amount weight a plane needed to carry.
Contrary to urban myth, that “waste” isn’t then flushed out of the plane in mid-air. It’s stored in a tank in the bowels (get it?) of the plane. A sanitisation crew at the airport empties the tank after arrival.
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…
(Main image is by JasonParis)