What went wrong on Jet Airways flight whose pilots forgot to maintain cabin pressure

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What went wrong on Jet Airways flight whose pilots forgot to maintain cabin pressure

The pilots forgot to activate what is known as the bleed switch

A Jet Airways Mumbai-Jaipur was forced to turn back after experiencing a sudden drop in cabin pressure during its climb. Maintaining optimum cabin pressure is essential in order to ensure that people on board a plane can breathe normally at high altitudes.

The incident this morning took place soon after Jet Airways Flight 9w697 took off from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai. Around 30 passengers complained of nosebleeds, ear bleeds and headaches; five of them had to be hospitalised.

While the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation has launched an investigation into the loss of cabin air pressure in the Jet Airways Mumbai-Jaipur flight, a preliminary probe indicates that the pilots may have been at fault.

The pilots, sources have told India Today TV, forgot to press a switch to maintain cabin pressure on the flight.

So, what happened on Jet Airways Flight 9w697, which had 166 passengers and five crew members on board?

Well, the pilots forgot to activate what is known as the 'bleed switch'. The bleed switch essentially diverts some air that is sucked by a plane's engines into the passenger cabin.

The 'bleed air', when sucked in, is hot and is at a high pressure. The air goes through an in-flight cooling system before it is blown into the cabin.

The extra air helps ensure cabin pressure.

Now, this bleed switch is usually turned off when an aircraft is taking off at its full weight capacity or with a heavy load. That is exactly what happened this morning in Mumbai.

The pilots of Jet Airways Flight 9w967, which was a Boeing 737-800 model, took off with the bleed switch in an off position since their plane had a heavy load and they needed the engines to be able to use all possible air for the sole purpose of taking off.

Once the flight was airborne, the pilots should have turned the bleed switch on. The operating check-list (a list of tasks commercial airline pilots must perform at different stages of a flight) of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft has turning engine bleeds on as the first after-takeoff task.

On the Mumbai-Jaipur flight, however, the pilots at the helm of Flight 9w967 forgot to turn on the bleed switch. Due to this, the air being sucked in by the plane's engine did not get diverted to the cabin.

And this led to a drop in cabin pressure, causing the flight's oxygen masks to get deployed and forcing the pilots to immediately return to Mumbai.

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