Mumbai: At least 30 passengers of a Jet Airways suffered ear and nose bleeding due to low cabin pressure early on Thursday during the aircraft's ascent here, following which the government ordered a safety audit plan for airlines, officials said.
Jet Airways later said it has derostered the cockpit crew concerned, who will remain off duties pending investigation.
Several passengers on the Mumbai-Jaipur flight 9W-697 -- carrying 166 persons and five crew on board -- complained of severe headache and pain in the ears after take-off around 6 a.m. from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA).
The flight was forced to return soon after, a Jet Airways spokesperson said.
The ailing passengers were deboarded and rushed to the terminal building where they were administered first aid by doctors.
Airport sources said that the incident could be a result of the crew's alleged failure to activate what is called a 'bleed switch' before take-off, leading to disturbance in the cabin pressure and forcing use of oxygen masks.
Taking serious note of the incident, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu ordered the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to prepare a comprehensive safety audit plan involving safety parameters on all airlines, airports, flying training schools and MROs immediately.
He also directed that the safety audit must start forthwith and the report submitted to him within 30 days and corrective action taken immediately on deficiencies found during the audit, an official said.
The Ministry said that ordered investigation and filing of report on the matter immediately.
Furious passengers vented their ire via the social media and accused the airline of completely ignoring their plight.
"Panic situation due to technical fault in the flight. Flight returns to Mumbai after 45 minutes. All passengers are safe, including me," tweeted Darshak Hathi.
He claimed that after the take-off, the air-conditioning malfunctioned, after which the air pressure system too malfunctioned and oxygen masks dropped down.
Another passenger Amit Relan said that the flight was on the runway for 20 minutes without ventilation that led to suffocation, and "don't know if will make it".
Other passengers complained that they were forced to sit in the aircraft for long, with no breakfast and no information from the airline.
"We emergency-landed. Now what? Ground staff has no answers. Kya karein?" rued Prashant Sharma.
Other passengers like Melissa Tixeira and Gravina Pereira, besides many more onboard, posted short video clips on the harrowing experience.