Curiosity has finally gotten the better of you, and you’re wondering where poop goes on a plane when you flush the toilet.
When you flush a plane’s toilet, poop goes into a tank that is located at the rear of the plane that is then emptied by special service trucks once the plane is on the ground.
Table of Contents
- 1 Where Does Poop Go On a Plane?
- 2 Planes Don’t Drop Poop From the Sky
- 3 Where Does Pee Go on a Plane?
- 4 Airplane Toilets Can Hit Up to 100 Decibels
- 5 Have You Ever Noticed How There is No Water in Airplane Toilets?
- 6 Planes Have a Lot of Waste After a Flight
- 7 There Arguably Aren’t Enough Toilets on a Plane
- 8 How Can You Avoid Pooping on a Plane?
- 9 What Pilots Do When They Need the Bathroom
Where Does Poop Go On a Plane?
To go into more detail about how airplane bathrooms work and where poop goes on a plane:
- When you flush a plane’s toilet, a “trapdoor” in the base of the toilet opens up.
- Poop and other waste goes through this trapdoor and travels through pipes into a tank at the back of the plane.
- Poop remains in this tank until the plane is on the ground.
- When the plane is on the ground, trucks attach a hose to the plane to suck the waste into the truck.
- Once the tank has been emptied, another hose is used to disinfect the tank
Planes Don’t Drop Poop From the Sky
Planes do not drop poop from the sky – at least intentionally.
Airlines are not allowed to dump their waste tanks in mid-flight, and pilots do not have a mechanism on board that allows them to do so either.
On some occasions, poop has leaked out of a plane’s undercarriage, which then freezes along with the tank’s liquid disinfectant to form “blue ice” that has hit people’s homes and damaged their roofs.
In the U.S., between 1979 and 2003, there have been at least 27 documented incidents of blue ice impacts.
These blue ice impacts typically occur under airport landing paths.
Where Does Pee Go on a Plane?
On a plane, pee goes to exactly the same place as poop.
So, both pee and poop get sucked into a tank that is located at the rear of the plane that is then emptied by special service trucks once a plane is on the ground.
Airplane Toilets Can Hit Up to 100 Decibels
Plane toilets are so loud, hitting up to 100 decibels, because every time you press the button to flush the toilet, an immensely powerful vacuum is used to suck the plane’s toilet bowl contents through pipes and into a waste tank.
The speed at which a plane’s toilet bowl contents exit the bowl is faster than a Formula 1 car, travelling up to 150 meters per second — or 300 miles per hour.
Have You Ever Noticed How There is No Water in Airplane Toilets?
There is no water in airplane toilets because plane toilets do not work like regular toilets on the ground.
Plane toilets do not use siphons to flush, whereby water enters the siphon and drains into a sewage system or septic tank.
Instead, a vacuum system is used to suck the waste out of a plane’s toilet bowel and into the waste tank found at the back of the plane.
Of course, due to the nature of flying and especially when there is turbulence, things could soon get messy if there was water in the toilet bowel.
Planes Have a Lot of Waste After a Flight
A long-haul Boeing 747 flight, results in an average of 230 gallons of waste from the toilet.
Even though this only equates to 0.55 gallons per flush per passenger, which is six times less than land-based toilets, it results in nearly one ton in extra weight.
There Arguably Aren’t Enough Toilets on a Plane
How many toilets there are on a plane depends on the plane, with a Boeing 747-8 having one toilet for every 28 passengers, compared to one toilet shared between 30 passengers on the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-200LR.
Generally, the newer the plane, the more toilets there are and the better the ratio of toilets to passengers.
In first class, sometimes the ratio is as good as 1 toilet for every 12 passengers.
How Can You Avoid Pooping on a Plane?
Besides hygiene purposes, there are several reasons why passengers would prefer not to poop on a plane, including the discomfort associated with pooping in those tiny airplane bathrooms.
Whatever the reason, if you want to avoid pooping on a plane:
- Use the bathroom before you board the plane
- Avoid drinking coffee
- Have a small meal or avoid eating altogether
- Perhaps even taken an anti-diarrheal medication before the flight
What Pilots Do When They Need the Bathroom
Pilots do not have the luxury of a toilet inside the cockpit, so will use the bathroom nearest the cockpit.
Safety precautions are usually taken, whereby the flight attendants will block off the area by the bathroom.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.