Japan Trials New Hands-Free Door Handles on Aircraft

by Emma Drew
All Nippon Airways (ANA) trial new hands-free bathroom door handles onboard aircraft

It comes as no surprise that the door handles on airplane bathrooms are one of the most unhygienic areas of a plane for they come into direct contact with countless passengers, causing the spread of germs and disease. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the cleanliness of airport bathrooms has been a major focus of airlines, with many finding new and improved ways to increase hygiene practices on their aircrafts to keep passengers safe.

From our days of travel, most of us will relate to having experienced the struggle of opening and closing the cubicle door of a plane using the sleeve of our jumper or maybe even a piece of tissue, anything to avoid having to touch a dirty germ ridden door handle with our hands.

Vacant red sign, occupied symbol on an airplane lavatory door. Raised, brushed metal lavatory sign, recessed plastic vacant sign. Toilet room, wc, water closet on airplane board

Vacant red sign, occupied symbol on an airplane lavatory door.

However, the Japanese airline, All Nippon Airways (ANA), has provided the solution. The airline has partnered with aircraft interior supplier, Jamco Corporation to trial the world’s first hands-free door handle on board some of its aircraft . The new invention works by having a mechanical spring that allows passenger to press the door open with their elbows or forearms and locks it securely from the inside, which also activates the bathroom light for extra ease.

The innovation was first trialed last year at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport in an effort to minimise the spread and transmission of coronavirus. The airline has since rolled out the new invention across 21 of the carrier’s domestic Boeing aircraft. The initiative is part of ANA’s future Care Promise pledge, to set high standards of cleanliness on all its domestic and international aircraft. The airline hopes the new approach will prove to be a success and will ensure a safer, hygienic and improved experience for passengers.

Jamco launch ANA hands-free on board toilet door handles

Jamco launch ANA hands-free on board toilet door handles.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) are not the only airline to try something different to improve on-board sanitation. Qatar Airways recently increased hygiene measures onboard the airlines aircraft and became the first global carrier to operate the Honeywell’s Ultraviolet (UV) Cabin System version 2.0. UV light has been shown to be capable of inactivating various viruses and bacteria when properly applied as part of the airlines safety policy in keeping its passengers safe.

American aircraft engineering company, the Greensboro, is also working on a design that opens the door by waving a hand over a touch-free sensor and are also working on automatic options for toilet lids and seats to prevent the transmission of germs. The company has already developed a foot-driven toilet flush, an automated trash bin lid, and a sensor-driven soap and sanitiser dispenser to make the on board bathroom as touch-less and hygienic as possible.

Passage on a passenger plane next to the toilet in economy class

Passage on a passenger plane next to the toilet in economy class.

Shinichi Inoue, Senior Executive Vice President, Customer Experience Management and Planning, commented: “ The health and safety of passengers and our staff is the top priority. The hands-free lavatory door is the latest example of us putting this principle into practice as we look for ways to make the travel experience safer and more convenient.”

Since the start of the pandemic,  airline passengers have become more vigilant of everything they come into contact with onboard and perhaps this latest hands-free door handle innovation is a step in the right direction for re-instilling confidence in air travel and for ensuring a cleaner and safer passenger experience in the future.

What do you think about other airlines rolling out hands-free door handles onboard aircraft? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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