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n229nw
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Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:18 pm

I did a search and didn't come up with anything quite about this...though some related threads...

Anyway, recently noticed that when I flew a NW A330 there were signs in the lavs with a picture of a person drinking the water and a lne through it (though despite this there were paper cups provided!) Meanwhile, on the AA 777 no such signs. I drank a cup of water on the 777 and am still alive to tell...

Is this a function of the different types of aircraft, different airline maintenance procedures? etc.

Just curious.
All Glory to the Hypnotoad!
 
HBJZA
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:27 pm

If I can give you a piece of advice, never drink any tap water on board an aircraft, whatever it's boeing, airbus, ATR, Dash, etc.....

The water tanks are rarely properly washed. I know that from time to time the maintenance crew put some "cleaning" tabs into the water tanks..... And think that one day the aircraft water tank is filled in countries where water quality is more than doubtfull and the day after in another one with other water which is taken from a water supply truck which was loaded who knows when and where !!!! I know in Switzerland for example the water tanks are emptied when the aircraft is staying long on ground to avoid icing (winter only) but who knows the procedures in other countries where icing temperatures is not an issue ???

I tell you once more, DO NOT DRINK TAP WATER ON A/C !!
 
doug_or
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:29 pm

^^^ yeah, that.

At the end of the day, MX knows whats inside. MX doesn't drink the water. All you need to know.
When in doubt, one B pump off
 
roseflyer
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:32 pm

While they are supposed to have potable woater inside them, you can never really trust the water inside the tanks. It isn't a good idea to drink it, but it should be relatively sanitary. Those cups in there are often so you can brush your teeth. Most airlines serve bottled water on board.

However there are some exceptions. Air New Zealand for example does frequently wash out the tanks, and when they serve you tea or coffee on board, it is made with water from the on board tanks. So sometimes it is safe, but airlines have to make sure that it is kept clean.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
 
tallguy14
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:35 pm

When I worked at a line station, only Southwest flushed their water tanks overnight. Other airlines filled up the a/c tanks, but WN let them fill up and spill onto the ramp. Don't know if that helped clean the tanks out, but at least an effort was being made. Or the WN rampers liked wasting water!

Jeff
 
studentflyer
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:35 pm

Quoting Doug_Or (Reply 2):
^^^ yeah, that.

At the end of the day, MX knows whats inside. MX doesn't drink the water. All you need to know.

Hahaha, I'd drink it to clean my tanks then, knowing the presence of diluted tabs  dopey ...

But yeah, it's always good precaution not to drink aircraft water as mentioned by both HBJZA and Doug_Or. You'd be in a more profitable way to ask for bottled water in an aircraft than tap water, both economically, and health-wise.
 
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yowza
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:43 pm

Some moody bitch FA with AC on YUL-FRA told my mom to get her own water from the lavs when she asked for some to take some painkillers. Still can't believe the shit that goes on at AC.

YOWza
 
studentflyer
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:50 pm

Quoting YOWza (Reply 6):
Some moody bitch FA with AC on YUL-FRA told my mom to get her own water from the lavs when she asked for some to take some painkillers. Still can't believe the shit that goes on at AC.

Tell her to drink the water from the tap herself then.. Probably should've jot her name down and complain directly to AC.. That is one rude gesture from an F/A
 
WJ
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:20 pm

Ok,

Never ever touch the potable water on board the aircraft. Not to drink, not to brush your teeth, nothing. These tanks are never cleaned per spec and it doen't matter what airline and what type aircraft. These tanks do not get touched until a "C" check at a minimum and the cleaning solutions do not get a %100 of the tank. Once a bit of fungus gets into the tanks nothing will get it out. Add to that the very real possibility that at one time during the life of the aircraft some lav juice was pumped into the water tank by mistake or at the very least, handled by someone who has just handled lav solution or refuse on the same aircraft. While I have never heard of anyone die as a direct relation to the water on board, I do know of numerous situations of passengers getting violently ill because of it. More than likely you will get seeral illnesses on the same aircraft traced back to improper handling procedures. Bottom line, you never can tell so stay away...
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LHR777
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:50 pm

Also, remember that the beverage makers for tea and coffee use the potable water supply, not bottled water. Also, it's only heated to a high temperature, but not to boiling point. So the tea and coffee you drink onboard is always made with potable water.
 
FoxBravo
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 12:04 am

I used to drink the tap water on planes all the time--especially on 747s with the little "water fountain" next to the lavs. Sure, it didn't taste great, but it seemed easier than troubling the F/As for bottled water.

Then a few years ago I was on an AA flight and had an interesting conversation with the guy next to me, who worked in maintenance at the airline. Among other things, he told me to never, EVER drink the airplane water, and went on to describe the nasty things that grow in the tanks. That set me straight!  Big grin
Common sense is not so common. -Voltaire
 
4xRuv
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 12:12 am

What about the coffee? doesn't the water for coffee arrive from the same water tanks???
 
LHR777
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 12:19 am

Quoting 4xRuv (Reply 11):
What about the coffee? doesn't the water for coffee arrive from the same water tanks???

See reply number 9 above.
 
Tod
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 12:52 am

Quoting WJ (Reply 8):
Add to that the very real possibility that at one time during the life of the aircraft some lav juice was pumped into the water tank by mistake

Modern airliners with vacuum waste systems no longer use blue juice.

Quoting LHR777 (Reply 9):
Also, remember that the beverage makers for tea and coffee use the potable water supply

Sometimes the galleys have filters to catch the big chunks.

That said, I design aircraft water systems and would never drink from them.
 
Tod
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 12:52 am

Quoting WJ (Reply 8):
Add to that the very real possibility that at one time during the life of the aircraft some lav juice was pumped into the water tank by mistake

Modern airliners with vacuum waste systems no longer use blue juice.

Quoting LHR777 (Reply 9):
Also, remember that the beverage makers for tea and coffee use the potable water supply

Sometimes the galleys have filters to catch the big chunks.

That said, I design aircraft water systems and would never drink from them.

Tod
 
474218
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 1:13 am

Quoting WJ (Reply 8):
Add to that the very real possibility that at one time during the life of the aircraft some lav juice was pumped into the water tank by mistake or at the very least,

Two completely different systems. The lav servicing panels only services the lav tanks. Clear water is pumped in to the tank and the "blue disinfectant" is added through the toilet. The potable water service panel only services the potable water system. Both are self contained units.
 
WJ
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 1:25 am

Quoting 474218 (Reply 15):
Two completely different systems. The lav servicing panels only services the lav tanks. Clear water is pumped in to the tank and the "blue disinfectant" is added through the toilet. The potable water service panel only services the potable water system. Both are self contained units.

That is why I said it may happen over the life of the aircraft and not on a regular basis. You want to tell me that no new-hire ramper has ever made a mistake in what port he was filling? Happens more than you would like to know. Also, The procedure calls for always handling potable water before doing the lavs. How many times do you think that rule has been broken and how many times were the lavs service on one aircraft and the agent handling that went on to handle water on the next without cleaning up.

Quoting Tod (Reply 13):
Modern airliners with vacuum waste systems no longer use blue juice.

A. There are still hundreds of aircraft in service that do not have the vacuum system and still use the regular flush. B. The vacuum system still uses small amounts of solution and liquid to "rush" the waste through system. Otherwise things will get sticky real fast.
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ltbewr
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 1:42 am

Has there been provable situations where the tank water has cause significant numbers of people to become ill on a flight? What about the water in the lavatory when you wash your hands or does the soap disinfect enough?
 
Tod
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 2:08 am

Quoting Wj (Reply 16):
B. The vacuum system still uses small amounts of solution and liquid to "rush" the waste through system. Otherwise things will get sticky real fast.

Nope.

Vacuum waste systems utilize water from the potable water system to accomplish the flush function.

Tod
 
WJ
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 2:16 am

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 17):
Has there been provable situations where the tank water has cause significant numbers of people to become ill on a flight? What about the water in the lavatory when you wash your hands or does the soap disinfect enough?

Some pretty scary articles:

http://www.mindfully.org/Water/Airline-Water-Safety1nov02.htm

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0UBT/is_37_18/ai_n6282712

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,138111,00.html

What's important to remember is that there is an alternative. It's just potable water and if you need to drink or brush your teeth, just use bottled.
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L1329II
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 4:16 am

I know from personal experience (trust me) that at least 90% of all corporate A/C water tanks are not cleaned or serviced at all on a regular basis. At least on those A/C that are large enough to have thier own lavatory. The only time they are touched is when there is MX inspections or if someone on board mentions the water has runout in the lav.  fever 
"By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?"
 
jetdeltamsy
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 4:56 am

NEVER NEVER NEVER DRINK THE POTABLE WATER ON AN AIRCRAFT.

It's not safe. You could die.

No drama. No hype.

Fact.
Tired of airline bankruptcies....EA/PA/TW and finally DL.
 
tallguy14
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:25 am

So....is it safe to wash your hands in the lavatory? Is there a better alternative?
 
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n229nw
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:26 am

OK then. Thanks everyone. I learned something.

Quoting Tod (Reply 14):
, I design aircraft water systems and would never drink from them.

I guess that says something.

I'm still curious about the coffee and tea, since almost all passengers drink some and it never seems to be a problem. If the water really ISN'T boiled, as LHR777 says, then that seems odd to me.
All Glory to the Hypnotoad!
 
IFEMaster
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:37 am

Quoting N229NW (Reply 23):

I'm still curious about the coffee and tea, since almost all passengers drink some and it never seems to be a problem. If the water really ISN'T boiled, as LHR777 says, then that seems odd to me.

I'm being pedantic, but 'Boiling' is relative. The temperature that water boils at when at sea level is higher than the temperature that water boils at when in a pressurized cabin. Even if they did boil it onboard, it woudn't be hot enough to be sterile.
Delivering Anecdotes of Dubious Relevance Since 1978
 
wjcandee
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:48 am

Couple of thoughts.

In most restaurants, the health department requires reheated food to be heated to at least 165 degrees for a certain period of time, then held at 140 or above. Between 40 and 140 is the temp at which most bacteria will grow most efficiently. Between 40 and 140 is the temperature at which most airline potable water will likely be maintained most of the time.

For coffee and tea, I'm guessing that while the cofeemaker may well not boil the water, it probably gets it up above 165. Of course, it doesn't necessarily get it there for any period of time, and some health departments are now concerned about some bacteria that live happily above 165 on reheating.

But there is a great difference between a real likelihood of problems and a theoretical possibility of it (bird flu, anyone? HIV transmissible by casual contact, anyone?). Given how inconsistent most restaurants ACTUALLY are in practice about sanitation, it's remarkable that people don't get sick a hell of a lot more than they do.

I have read a lot of material about the kind of stuff that is found in airline potable water tanks, and a lot of material about how those little mints at the diner have pretty much the same stuff on them (because people don't wash their hands before grabbing some mints). Nevertheless, it's rare that you read anything about people actually getting ill from this stuff. Those bacteria-covered bar peanuts, those bacteria-covered mints, and that bacteria-laden airline potable water probably will never give you so much as gas. That said, I really don't touch the stuff.
 
Bobster2
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 8:45 am

Here's the official statement from US EPA:

"Passengers with suppressed immune systems or others concerned should request bottled or canned beverages while on the aircraft and refrain from drinking tea or coffee that does not use bottled water."

When they say "others concerned" they are essentially saying EVERYBODY because we are all concernced.

http://www.epa.gov/safewater/airlinewater/questions.html
"I tell you this, no eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn." Jim Morrison
 
jetdeltamsy
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:00 am

Quoting IFEMaster (Reply 24):
Even if they did boil it onboard, it wouldn't be hot enough to be sterile.

I'm no biologist, but it seems to me if 180 degrees Fahrenheit is enough to kill bugs in cooked meat, it would do the same in water. so boiling wouldn't be required to sterilize water.
Tired of airline bankruptcies....EA/PA/TW and finally DL.
 
deltamd88
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 2:05 pm

Quoting Tallguy14 (Reply 22):
So....is it safe to wash your hands in the lavatory? Is there a better alternative?

Yes, a bottle of instant hand santizer, I use it all the time in airports and on planes. Only once, on a 5 something in the AM flight from EWR to ATL did I have coffee on a plane and got sick later the day, since then I only drink soft drinks or bottled water on planes.
 
ASAFA
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:41 pm

Oh my oh my.

Drinking the potable water on a plane will not kill you. In fact, I challenge anyone to prove that it has made any significant number of people sick - ever!

Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 3):
when they serve you tea or coffee on board, it is made with water from the on board tanks

This is true. What do you think the pilots drink on a daily basis??? You don't see them dropping dead during the flight. I drink the coffee several times per week, have the tea just as often, and **GASP** wash/rinse my hands with the water too... many times per flight!!!

Quoting WJ (Reply 8):
Never ever touch the potable water on board the aircraft. Not to drink, not to brush your teeth, nothing. These tanks are never cleaned per spec and it doen't matter what airline and what type aircraft. These tanks do not get touched until a "C" check at a minimum and the cleaning solutions do not get a %100 of the tank. Once a bit of fungus gets into the tanks nothing will get it out. Add to that the very real possibility that at one time during the life of the aircraft some lav juice was pumped into the water tank by mistake or at the very least, handled by someone who has just handled lav solution or refuse on the same aircraft. While I have never heard of anyone die as a direct relation to the water on board, I do know of numerous situations of passengers getting violently ill because of it. More than likely you will get seeral illnesses on the same aircraft traced back to improper handling procedures. Bottom line, you never can tell so stay away...

How do you make it through your day? Do you live in a plastic bubble? These tanks are serviced with fresh drinking water daily or even many times per day - that is treated water - it is not like they are filling the tanks from a lake. Drinking water contains chlorine which kills bacteria.

Tell me more about these "numerous situations of passengers getting violently ill".

Quoting Bobster2 (Reply 26):
When they say "others concerned" they are essentially saying EVERYBODY because we are all concernced.

You can scratch me off that list.

Quoting Jetdeltamsy (Reply 21):
NEVER NEVER NEVER DRINK THE POTABLE WATER ON AN AIRCRAFT.

It's not safe. You could die.

No drama. No hype.

Fact.

HAHAHA okay... fact based on what? That you can die doing just about anything? It's not going to kill you unless a stiff breeze would make you drop dead, and they wouldn't let you on a plane in that condition anyway.

It amazes me that so many people have been trained that the only safe water comes from a bottle. What do you think people did before the bottled water trend? Die of thirst? I'm not that old but I do remember a time before bottled water when people actually drank from the tap in their homes, and when you were thirsty on the plane you went to the lav and got a cup. I'm sure the water on those old United 727's wasn't half as clean as it is on aircraft today.
 
Tod
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:07 am

Quoting ASAFA (Reply 29):
prove that it has made any significant number of people sick

It doesn't take a big number to be personally significant if it includes you.

You are correct that it is reletively rare, but that is of little comfort when it does occure.

Quoting ASAFA (Reply 29):
What do you think the pilots drink on a daily basis???

Could it be that they develop immunity to what they are regularly exposed to?
Just like traveling to distant lands where the locals can drink the water, but visitors sometimes have problems?

Quoting ASAFA (Reply 29):
people actually drank from the tap in their homes

 checkmark 
Everyday in large quantities.

Tod
 
Dougloid
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RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:14 am

Quoting WJ (Reply 8):
Never ever touch the potable water on board the aircraft. Not to drink, not to brush your teeth, nothing. These tanks are never cleaned per spec and it doen't matter what airline and what type aircraft. These tanks do not get touched until a "C" check at a minimum and the cleaning solutions do not get a %100 of the tank. Once a bit of fungus gets into the tanks nothing will get it out. Add to that the very real possibility that at one time during the life of the aircraft some lav juice was pumped into the water tank by mistake or at the very least, handled by someone who has just handled lav solution or refuse on the same aircraft. While I have never heard of anyone die as a direct relation to the water on board, I do know of numerous situations of passengers getting violently ill because of it. More than likely you will get seeral illnesses on the same aircraft traced back to improper handling procedures. Bottom line, you never can tell so stay away...

When I worked for Douglas one of my specialties was overseeing the sanitization and purging of new install potable water systems on the MD11. It was quite an involved process involving large amounts of very strong bleach and flushing. The entire clean and purge cycle took up most of an eight hour shift. At the time I thought that maintaining the systems out in the field at an adequate level of cleanliness would be difficult at best.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
L1329II
Posts: 285
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 11:52 am

RE: Tap Water Differences Between Aircraft

Thu Mar 16, 2006 2:49 am

Quoting ASAFA (Reply 29):
Drinking the potable water on a plane will not kill you. In fact, I challenge anyone to prove that it has made any significant number of people sick - ever!

Nice try... like I quoted earlier I know from firsthand experience that someone got rather sick when drinking the water from the sink in the lav. I was in the jump seat on a ride along during a test flight after some maintenance. Wanting something to drink the pilot asked me if I wouldnt mind getting him something. After finding nothing I decided to try the lav. I got him a cup of water from the tap.

Everything was fine for a while but a short while on the ground the pilot got real sick and vomited right on the tarmac. I dont know how long he was out but I do know he was rather sick.
"By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?"