In a shocking case of negligence, five passengers on a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Jaipur were left with bleeding ears and noses when the airconditioning system that regulates cabin pressure remained switched off till a warning sounded at 10,000 feet. Apart from the five, other passengers experienced extreme earache as the cockpit crew apparently forgot to select the bleed switch which pressurises the cabin. This constitutes a massive lapse in aircraft take-off procedures and those working the flight must be thoroughly investigated. Although the flight was safely brought back to Mumbai, the callousness of the crew could have resulted in a greater catastrophe if the pilots too had suffered ear injuries.
Similar aviation safety scares have come to light in the last few months. On September 11 an Air India flight to New York, with 370 passengers on board, suffered multiple systems failure but luckily landed safely. There were midair engine failures involving the Pratt and Whitney engine-powered Airbus A320neo aircraft operated by carriers such as IndiGo and GoAir. Add to this near collisions between aircraft, and it’s clear Indian aviation needs to shape up.
India is one of the fastest growing aviation markets. But the infrastructure needed to cater to this demand is simply not keeping pace. Consider that India has between 2,500 and 2,800 air traffic controllers. It needs to hire at least 1,200 more to relieve high stress on these officers. Passenger safety is the most crucial aspect of air travel. Cutting corners here is simply unacceptable. It’s just as well that civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu has ordered a safety audit of all scheduled airlines and airports. A zero-tolerance policy towards negligence of safety standards and protocols is imperative for keeping our planes flying.