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Japanese airline launches hands-free aircraft toilet doors

(CNN) – Japanese airline ANA is testing a new innovation that could make your next flight more hygienic: bathroom doors that you can open without having to use your hands.

The airline will deploy 21 door-equipped planes on domestic flights in Japan starting next week. Doors work by having a mechanical spring that allows people to push the door open with their elbows or forearms.

The prototypes were created by ANA and JAMCO, a Japan-based company that creates products for the aviation industry, in the fall of 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. So far, however, the only place to try one has been the ANA lounge at Tokyo Haneda Airport.

And it’s not just the entrance that is accessible without using your hands. Once you’re inside the toilet, you can lock and unlock the door with a slide button (thus activating the lights at the same time), and there’s also a handle so you can use your elbow to open the door. interior door.

“We have continued to invest in the development and implementation of innovative technologies as the health and safety of passengers and our staff is the top priority,” said Shinichi Inoue, senior executive vice president of management and customer experience planning, in a press release. “The hands-free toilet door is the latest example of how we put this principle into practice.”

Depending on how the implementation process goes, ANA hopes to introduce the new hands-free doors on several of its aircraft, including those that operate on international flights. At present, most foreigners cannot enter Japan, and international travel is severely restricted.

While the chances of catching the virus on airplanes are relatively low, bathrooms are unsurprisingly among the most germy places on board, even during the best of times.

Airlines around the world have tried a range of different approaches to air hygiene. Many airlines require passengers and crew to wear masks on board, and some require staff to wear full PPE.

Thailand briefly banned food and beverage service, as well as newspapers and magazines, on domestic flights as a preventive measure. In China, the national aviation authority has even suggested that flight attendants wear diapers when working to reduce trips to the toilet. Perhaps the hands-free airplane doors will work as a substitute.

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