This question, led me to wonder, how big are the tanks that hold poo. I had seen a BBC video, showing how they empty the tank on an A380 at Heathrow, can't remember the capacity.

Also, what about planes like Cessna etc, do they have toilets?

In an emergency can the tank be emptied, in case it overweight, i.e. above the Maximum Landing Weight?


The A380 has a total waste tank capacity of 2096L or 554 US gal, according to Airbus.

B. Capacity There are four waste tanks, two upper deck tanks and two main deck tanks, see FIGURE 5-4-10-991-003-A.
(1) Upper Deck Waste-Tanks - 373 l (99 US gal).
Each tank is precharged with 35 l (9 US gal) of chemical fluid.
(2) Main Deck Waste-Tanks - 675 l (178 US gal). Each tank is precharged with 35 l (9 US gal) of chemical fluid.
(3) Total Waste Tank Capacity - 2096 l (554 US gal).

The size will vary for each aircraft type, the Boeing 747 had a capacity of only 1000L.

Smaller General Aviation aircraft do not have lavatories, this depends on aircraft size and purpose. The average Cessna will not have lavatories either, pilots have to plan their stops properly or rely on accessory such as the TravelJohn. Larger General Aviation aircraft such as smaller jets and aircraft designed for more than 4 passengers are more likely to have lavatories on board.

enter image description here
(Image Source: Siebert Aero)

There is no dumping system for waste tanks, mostly for hygienic and environmental reasons, as the waste tanks are not only filled with fecal and thus biological matter, but also with chemicals.

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    $\begingroup$ Also, there is no possibility of the aircraft becoming overweight during flight due to waste tanks filling up. Whatever goes into those tanks was on the plane at take off, whether in the galley, a carry-on, or a person. If it wasn't overweight at take-off, transferring the location of the weight won't make it become so during flight. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Mar 20 '15 at 12:13
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    $\begingroup$ @FreeMan An aircraft can be below MTOM/MTOW, but once airborne it can be above MLW. It cannot technically have more weight than before someone used the lavatory, there you are right... $\endgroup$ – SentryRaven Mar 20 '15 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, a trip to the loo is a simple weight redistribution. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Mar 20 '15 at 12:38
  • $\begingroup$ Airlines also should provide travel john's along with the puke pouch, for cases of emergency.. $\endgroup$ – Firee Mar 24 '15 at 6:21

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