The US FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) – America’s equivalent of our CAA, have last week required US airlines to disable the emergency oxygen generators found in airplane toilets.
The oxygen generators power the oxygen masks which fall from the ceiling in the event of decompression – where air pressure is lost from the aircraft and oxygen masks need to be worn in order to avoid unconsciousness and death.
Masks are kept above seats, in the galley and aisles, and also in aircraft toilets should passengers happen to be there during a decompression.
This new ruling means that should a decompression occur, cabin crew will have to check toilets and to ensure passengers are brought out and provided with an oxygen mask.
The FAA press release states:
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently required the nation’s airlines to disable the oxygen generators located in all aircraft lavatories to eliminate a potential safety and security vulnerability.
The specific reason as to why the oxygen generators are percieved as a threat has not been stated, however the materials and components used in the construction of the Oxygen generators, combined with the privacy of a toilet, are most likely to be the cause.
A similar ruling has not been issued by the CAA or EASA, however France has also made a similar ruling.