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Fri, Jul 13, 2007

JAL, ANA To Add Bidets To New Dreamliners

Option Helps 787 Passengers Stay Clean As A Whistle

Few things can make transatlantic travel more unpleasant than a dirty lavatory with a wet floor and bad odor. Remember that Continental flight last month?

Two Japanese airlines will finally be getting the lavatory luxuries they've long requested that will, hopefully, eliminate some of that. Boeing and TOTO Ltd. of Japan, in a first in air travel, have developed a bidet-style toilet to be outfitted on new Boeing 787 Dreamliners for Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.

JAL will install them in lavatories only in premium seating areas while ANA said it will install them in both premium and economy class sections.

Boeing said the carriers have been asking for bidet-style toilets for years, but they haven't been able to come up with a model that could withstand the rigors of long-haul flights.

The plane maker worked closely with TOTO, a large bathroom and plumbing manufacturer, and finally developed a sufficiently robust model. The device, called the Washlet, is now listed as an option in the 787 catalog.

ANA is scheduled to take delivery of the first 787 ever in May 2008 and has 50 on order so far. JAL has ordered 35 Dreamliners and is due to start taking delivery later on in the year.

The Washlet is said to be user-friendly and comes with a control panel for easy operation, according to the Wall Street Journal. Users can direct the spray from different directions. This may seem destined to add to wet floors and general lavatory filth, but Boeing says the bidet part will only work when someone is actually sitting on it plus it has a self-cleaning function.

"It's very accurate," said Hiroyuki Ito, ANA's executive vice president of maintenance and operations.

This isn't the first time JAL and ANA have demanded luxuries in the bathroom. JAL implored Boeing to rid their toilets of the loud noise they made when the seat lid was slammed down during the planning stages for the 777.

Reportedly, this little problem became known as the "big bang" and was eventually solved when Boeing engineers installed an air shock that lowers the seat in silence.
"It's become one of the hallmarks of the 777," said a Boeing spokeswoman.

Japanese government statistics say two out of three households in Japan have bidet-toilets. They are becoming increasingly common in public toilets as well. In new hotel and office building construction, they are installed as standard appliances.

But so far the biggest challenge to Boeing and the carriers is explaining their use effectively enough so even the most unfamiliar passenger won't be scared to sit down.

FMI: www.boeing.com, www.anaskyweb.com/us/e, www.jal.com

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