Pilots’ failure to pressurise plane leaves passengers bleeding from noses, ears

An Indian airline flight from Mumbai to Jaipur carrying 166 passengers and a five-member crew turned back on Thursday after some 30 passengers suffered bleeding from noses or ears due to pilots’ failure to turn on a switch that controls cabin pressure.

Jet Airways apologised for the inconvenience caused to passengers who were treated for minor injuries by doctors as soon as flight 9W 697 landed back at Mumbai airport.

The pilots have been taken off duty and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) has started a probe, the airline said.

An AAIB official told Press Trust of India that the case pointed to pilots’ error as controlling cabin pressure is part of their duty before operating a flight.

The pilots’ blunder happened a day after tax officials visited the offices of the cash-strapped airline.

For Jet passengers, the horror drama began to unfold when the Boeing 737 aircraft carrying them began to climb soon after takeoff at 5.52am.

Suddenly, oxygen masks were deployed and the crew announced they were preparing to land. There was no instruction for passengers to wear the oxygen mask. Panic gripped them as they were also clueless about where the plane was going to land.

Some of them started to cry in pain as their nose and ears began to bleed. The pilots did not explain what caused the bleeding or pain and why they were landing suddenly.

During the climb, the pilots forgot to select the “bleed switch” that regulates cabin pressure. As passengers gasped for air, oxygen masks were dropped and they began to breathe through them.

More than 30 passengers suffered bleeding from nose and ears.

The flight turned back and landed in Mumbai around 6.15 am.

In January this year, Jet Airways grounded two pilots for fighting inside the cockpit of a flight from London to Mumbai. The flight, which was carrying 324 passengers, landed safely.