New Delhi: A Jet Airways flight that took off from the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai for Jaipur had to turn back as several passengers suffered nose and ear bleeding.

Civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu has asked the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) to conduct a probe into the incident. The minister has also asked the air safety regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), to draw up a blueprint for the safety audits of all players in the aviation business to make air travel safer.

This is the second incident in a span of a few days involving the safety of air passengers. On 11 September, Air India flight AI-101, which had taken off from the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi for New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, had to land at Newark instead because of multiple instrument failure. The flight landed safely largely because of the skill and presence of mind of the pilots and the air traffic controller.

The nose and ear bleeding on the early morning flight Jet Airways flight 9W-697 on Thursday was a result of cabin pressure not being maintained, a DGCA official said on condition of anonymity.

During the climb, the crew of the B737 aircraft forgot to select the bleed switch, which allows high pressure bleed air from the engine to be used for cabin pressurization.

“As a result, oxygen masks were deployed. According to initial information, of the 166 passengers on board, 30 have been affected by nose and ear bleeding and some are complaining of headache," said the DGCA official.

Jet Airways said that it regrets the inconvenience caused to its guests.

“The flight’s cockpit crew has been taken off scheduled duties pending investigation," said Jet Airways.

All guests were deplaned safely, taken to the terminal and first aid was administered to a few guests who complained of ear pain, bleeding nose and other problems, the airline said.

Alternative flight arrangements were made for the travellers, the company said.

“In view of the incidents related to the safety of the passengers, civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu has directed officials concerned to prepare a comprehensive safety audit plan which involves assessment of safety parameters of all scheduled airlines, aerodromes, flying training schools and maintenance, repair and overhaul (agencies) immediately," said the civil aviation ministry.

Prabu said the safety audit should start immediately and a report must be submitted within 30 days. Corrective action should be taken immediately on the deficiencies found, if any, during such audit, the ministry said.

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