Pilot reveals how passenger plane toilets are emptied – and oddly enough why it’s a popular job with ground crews
It is an urban myth that passenger jet waste is released mid-flight.
Veteran Air Canada Dreamliner captain Doug Morris explains that in-plane toilets are actually maintained at airports, at “most ground stops on long-haul flights and less so on short-haul flights.”
The waste is flushed to storage tanks at the rear of the aircraft.
In his fascinating book This is your captain speaking (ECW Press), Captain Morris explains, “There is an access panel near the rear (no pun intended) of the aircraft to drain the holding tanks.”
In addition, emptying the tanks, he reveals, is “wanted by many airlines among ramp workers because if they get it, it becomes their only job.”
Veteran Air Canada Dreamliner captain Doug Morris explains that toilets on planes are maintained at airports – and that emptying the tanks is a sought-after job
He continues: “They drive from plane back to plane back with possibly longer breaks.
‘These ‘lavologists’ wear special biohazard suits and masks. And the wastewater must be ‘dumped’ at a designated biohazardous waste location at the airport.’
Captain Morris emphasizes in his book that toilet maintenance is ‘a huge part of flight operations’.
He explains: ‘If a toilet is deemed unusable, that need not be a problem; however, maps are consulted to decide whether operations will be impeded.
‘The number of passengers and the duration of the flight determine the number of usable toilets required.
“If toilets become unusable during a long-haul flight, it can be a distraction. Yes, it’s that serious.’
Captain Morris’ revelations in the toilet don’t end there.
He also reveals that on the Dreamliner and the Boeing 777, the flight crew can see the forward washroom via cabin cameras – and over the years he’s seen some memorable sights.
High flyer: veteran Air Canada Dreamliner captain Doug Morris
He writes: ‘First, many passengers spend a few seconds figuring out how the door works. It used to be similar to opening a phone booth. Just push!
‘Then there are people who venture to the toilet barefoot or in socks.
“That liquid on the floor can’t be water. Think of turbulence and poor aiming.’
Click to order a copy of This Is Your Captain Speaking here.
This is your captain speaking (ECW press) is now out