AI Express Flight IX 350 took off from Muscat at 3.19 am (local time) Sunday. During climb at about 12,000 feet the Boeing 737’s cabin pressurisation system had a snag. Passengers started experiencing discomfort, with four having nose bleed and others complaining of ear pain. The pilots immediately stopped climbing further and returned to land safely in Muscat. The aircraft had 182 passengers, three infants and crew members on board.
AI Express CEO K Shyam Sundar told TOI: “Aircraft returned (safely) to bay due to (cabin) pressurization problem. Four passengers had nose bleeding. They were treated by the airport doctor and declared fit to travel. Few other passengers who had experienced discomfort and ear pain soon became alright after the aircraft landed and they were in the terminal building.”
“Replacement crew and spares reached Muscat (on) Sunday morning Muscat and the aircraft after due rectification and verification departed from Muscat to Calicut at 2.15 pm (local time) with (all passengers).”
Another senior official said, “The crew which operated IX 350 would have had exceeded its maximum duty time so a replacement crew had to be arranged to fly the aircraft back to Calicut once it was rectified.” Sources say the cabin pressurisation issue may have been caused by turbulence. However the probe will reveal the exact cause of why this happened.
Last September, passengers on a Jet Airways’ Boeing 737 flying from Mumbai to Jaipur flight had also suffered nose bleed, ear pain and other discomfort when the crew forgot to select a switch that helps maintain cabin air pressure after take off. The aircraft with 166 passengers had returned to Mumbai where some passengers had to be admitted to hospital.
AI Express sources say the four passengers had “minor nose bleed and were treated at the airport itself after which they were declared fit to fly to India.” DGCA officials could not be reached for comment despite several attempts.