Panic breaks out on Indian flight as pilot forgets to turn on cabin pressure | News | DW | 20.09.2018
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Panic breaks out on Indian flight as pilot forgets to turn on cabin pressure

More than 30 passengers on Indian carrier Jet Airways began bleeding from their ears and noses after the plane lost cabin pressure. The airline said the pilots had simply forgotten to flick the necessary switch.

A Jet Airways flight travelling from Mumbai to Jaipur on Thursday was forced to turn back after the plane lost cabin pressure due to a cockpit mix-up.

More than 30 passengers began bleeding from their ears and noses and later had to receive medical treatment. Five of those travelers had to be rushed to hospital after they began suffering from mild deafness. Doctors said they would need 10 days to fully recover.

Jet Airways said the incident occurred after the pilots forgot to flick a switch regulating cabin air pressure. The flight crew "has been taken off scheduled duties pending investigation," the carrier said in a statement, adding that it would fully cooperate with India's aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The Boeing 737, which was carrying 166 passengers and five crew members, had climbed 11,000 feet (3,350 meters) before returning to Mumbai.

Photos and videos taken by passengers on board quickly made the rounds on social media. Footage posted by Twitter user Darshak Hathi showed travelers using oxygen masks. "Panic situation due to technical fault in @jetairways 9W 0697 going from Mumbai to Jaipur," he tweeted.

Another passenger told India's NDTV news network that the pilot did not make any announcement, except to say that the flight was returning to Mumbai. "I was in the business class and the oxygen mask came down suddenly. One passenger came running from the back asking everyone to put on the masks," he said. "All the passengers were panicking, those sitting at the back and who were unable to wear the masks started bleeding from their mouths and noses."

The incident is the latest of a string of embarrassments for Jet Airways, and comes at a time when it is both struggling to cut costs and finds itself embroiled in a pay dispute with staff.

The carrier, which is partly owned by Etihad Airways, announced this summer that it had suffered losses of around $189 million (roughly €160 million) for the quarter from April to June.

In January, two pilots were grounded after getting into a brawl and storming out of the cockpit during a New Year's Day flight from Mumbai to London.

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dm/msh (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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