All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest airline, has partnered with Jamco Corporation to develop the world’s first hands-free door that allows easy access to lavatories on its aircraft. The innovative door was developed as part of the ANA Care Promise initiative and will help limit potential vectors for the transmission of pathogens. The first hands-free doors will be introduced to domestic flights from 1 May.

    Commenting on the partnership, ANA’s senior executive VP of customer experience management & planning, Shinichi Inoue said: “Guided by the principles of the ANA Care Promise, we have continued to invest in the development and implementation of innovative technologies because the health and safety of our passengers and staff is the top priority. The hands-free lavatory door is the latest example of us putting this principle into practice as we look for ways to make the travel experience safer and more convenient.”

    The new lavatory door is equipped with a large inner door locking knob and an additional handle so that passengers can use their elbows to unlock the door. Because the mechanism is different to those found on other aircraft, signage has been placed near the lavatory to provide operational instructions.

    The hands-free lavatory will be installed on 11 Boeing 787-8 aircraft, two Boeing 787-9 aircraft, and eight Boeing 777-200. The initial installation will be for aircrafts serving domestic routes, while ANA hopes to introduce the system to all domestic and international aircraft in the future.

    To help mitigate the spread of Covid-19 and other pathogens, ANA has instituted the ANA Care Promise programme, which is said to go above and beyond the recommendations from public health officials in terms of keeping passengers and employees healthy. Such efforts have resulted in ANA becoming the first airline in Asia, and only the fourth in the world, to receive the Skytrax airline safety five-star rating.

    ANA has been awarded the five-star rating every year since 2013  and is the only Japanese airline to win the designation eight years in a row. Additionally, the carrier has been recognised by Air Transport World as Airline of the Year three times over the past 10 years, becoming one of the few airlines to win this prestigious award multiple times.

    It was last November when Jamco Corporation first revealed its new, hands-free lavatory locking knob and door handle. The knob and door handle are low-cost items and can be installed simply overnight by airlines in existing lavatories without major modification. The solution allows  passengers to use their forearm or elbow to open the lavatory door, thereby allowing them to return to their seats with their hands remaining clean.