The water on aircraft is stored in tanks, on most commercial aircraft the water tank is filled on the ground and used for the lavatories (toilet and wash basin) along with the galleys (drinking water / boiler for tea and coffee).Read more: Boeing 787 General Familiarisation – Potable Water onboard
The water is distributed along water pipes to the different areas of the aircraft by pressuring the water tank with air. In flight this is from the bleed air systems and on the ground, we can achieve this with a small electric motor.
While the tanks are regularly cleaned, disinfected and filters at point of use changed regularly, there are of course some problems such as pipes freezing in flight if the water flow is low, and they are not heated.
The Boeing 787 goes further again to make this water safer for us and more reliable regarding service. It achieves this with the use of ultraviolet (UV). The UV water treatment kills bacteria, viruses, and other harmful particles in water.
The UV water treatment is in the fill line, and it operates only during ground servicing.
The way that the water is distributed is also different – the tank is not reliant on pressurisation, instead there is 2 water pumps which act as circulation pumps. Where before the water was only flowing where there was a demand, the circulation pump operates all the time.
The pumps send potable water to lavatories, galleys, and humidifier which makes the air on board a little more pleasant by adding moisture for the passengers.
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