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Flight Passengers Suffer Nose, Ear Bleeding After Crew ‘Forgets’ to Pressurize Cabin

Jet Airways
Jet Airways confirmed the plane turned back in response to loss in cabin pressure, on September 20. The Boeing 737 landed normally in Mumbai, India. It was carrying 166 passengers and five crew. @DarshakHathi/Twitter

A Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Jaipur on Thursday left passengers with nose and ear bleeding after crew allegedly “forgot” to pressurize the cabin.

The plane was forced to turn around shortly after taking off earlier today, officials from the Indian airline said. Thirty passengers were treated after suffering bleeding and headaches, while up to eight people had to be hospitalized, the Times of India reported.

Lalit Gupta, joint director general working for the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) elaborated on the error, explaining: “During climb, the crew forgot to select bleed switch due to which cabin pressure could not be maintained. As a result, oxygen masks got deployed.”

In a brief statement on Twitter, Jet Airways confirmed the plane turned back in response to loss in cabin pressure. The Boeing 737 landed normally in Mumbai. It was carrying 166 passengers and five crew.

Jet Airways A Jet Airways aircraft prepares for takeoff at the city airport in Mumbai, India, on September 13, 2009. SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images

“All guests were deplaned safely and taken to the terminal,” the statement said. “First aid was administered to few guests who complained of ear pain, bleeding nose etc. The flight’s cockpit crew has been taken off scheduled duties pending investigation. The airline is making alternative flight arrangements for guests on this flight. Jet Airways regrets the inconvenience caused.”

On Twitter, passengers posted images and videos from inside the cabin. Footage confirmed that oxygen masks had been deployed and customers were seen holding them to their faces.

Darshak Hathi, one customer who uploaded a video of the situation on Flight 9W 697, wrote: “Panic situation due to technical fault in @jetairways 9W 0697 going from Mumbai to Jaipur.  [Flight] return back to Mumbai after 45 mts. All passengers are safe including me.”

Another user on Flight 9W 697, who went by the name Satish Nair, said: “Airplane lost pressure immediately after taking off...scores of passengers including me bleeding from nose....no staff to help...no announcement on board to wear the oxygen mask. Passenger safety completely ignored.”

In a second update, Nair described the experience as “the worst nightmare you can think of.”

According to CNN affiliate News18, an official from India’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) suggested that the incident may have been “a case of negligence on the part of the pilots” as the pressure control system is designed to be a part of flight checks prior to takeoff.

Symptoms shown by the passengers were indicative of injuries tied to low air pressure.

“Airliners fly between 30,000 and 43,000 feet,” explained Aerosavvy.com in an article explaining the process of cabin pressurization. “If you tried breathing at that altitude, your useful consciousness would be less than a minute (followed soon after by death).

“To survive high altitudes, occupants of an aircraft need help breathing. The solution is to pump air into the airplane, so the interior pressure is high enough to keep the humans happy.”

The investigation into what went wrong onboard flight 9W 697 will continue. 

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