Turbulent Landing Fractures Flight Attendant’s Spine


Southwest Airlines airplane departing from the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. | Photo by KevinKim, Shutterstock

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant suffered a fractured spine last month after her plane experienced a harder-than-expected landing.

Airport safety investigators determined the Southwest attendant had broken her vertebra due to a ‘firm landing,’ according to an accident report released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The incident occurred on July 1 at 5:21 p.m. as flight 2029 entered John Wayne-Orange County Airport in Santa Ana, California.

According to the flight crew, pilots were flying a visual approach to the runway. Instead of a soft landing, the Boeing 737-700 experienced a hard touched down on the airport’s short runway.

Before the Southwest flight landed, the attendant indicated she had secured the galley and cabin for landing, sat down in her jump seat, secured her seatbelt harness, and got into the brace position. “The plane hit the ground with such force that I thought the plane had crashed,” said the attendant, per the report.

“She immediately felt pain in her back, neck and she could not move. Paramedics evaluated her and transported her to a local hospital where she was later diagnosed with a compression fracture to her T3 vertebra,” according to the NTSB.

No other injuries were reported onboard the 142-passenger flight.

“The safety of Southwest’s customers and employees is always our top priority,” said Southwest in a statement. “We are concerned when any employee is injured. We reported the matter to the NTSB in accordance with regulatory requirements and conducted an internal review of the event.”

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5 months ago

Faulty design in the attendant’s jump seat?

5 months ago

If it’s deemed to be pilot error, she might have a case. But if the hard landing was due to a downdraft of air upon the plane, she may not. The story didn’t mention what the weather conditions were at the time the plane landed.