Event Details

Title:Turbulence injuries, Boeing 737-200, April 28, 1997
Micro summary:This Boeing 737-200 encountered turbulence during climb, injuring several people.
Event Time:1997-04-28 at 1330 EDT
File Name:1997-04-28-US.pdf
Publishing Agency:National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
Publishing Country:USA
Report number:ATL97LA064
Site of event:Atlanta, GA
Departure:Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Destination:George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas, USA
Airplane Type(s):Boeing 737-200
Flight Phase:Climb
Operator(s):Continental Airlines
Type of flight:Revenue
Serious Injuries:1
Other Injuries:0
Executive Summary:

NTSB short summary:

The failure of the flight crew to alert the cabin crew to the possibility of turbulence, leading to a serious injury when severe turbulence was encountered..

NTSB synopsis:

Before takeoff, the flight crew was given weather information which indicated the possibility of thunderstorms and turbulence along their flight path. As they climbed through 24,000 feet, they diverted around a 'benign' looking rain shower. As they passed the rain shower, they encountered three jolts of moderate to severe turbulence. All three flight attendants were preparing to serve the cabin at this time, and one was seriously injured during the encounter. The Continental Flight Manual states that the flight crew should instruct the cabin crew to secure the cabin and be seated before an encounter with turbulence.

NTSB factual narrative text:

On April 28, 1997, about 1330 eastern daylight time, a Boeing 737-200, N14245, encountered turbulence during the climb following takeoff from The William B. Hartsfield International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia. The airplane was operated as flight 1181, by Continental Airlines, Inc., under Title 14 CFR Part 121, and instrument flight rules. An instrument flight plan was filed for the scheduled, domestic, passenger flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. There were serious injuries to one flight attendant, minor injuries to seven passengers, and no injuries to 70 passengers, two additional flight attendants, and the two airline transport pilots. The airplane was not damaged. The flight departed Atlanta, Georgia, about 1247, on the same day.

According to the flight crew, the flight was deviating around what the captain described as a benign looking rain shower. While passing 24,000 feet at 280 knots, the airplane encountered three jolts of moderate to severe turbulence, for a total duration of 10 seconds. The seat belt sign was illuminated. A flight attendant, who was serving passengers, received a broken ankle during the turbulence. Two passengers, who were seated at the time, complained of head and neck injuries. The flight crew declared a medical emergency, and they were given priority throughout the remainder of the flight.

The "A" flight attendant stated he and the "C" flight attendant were setting up the bar cart in the rear galley of the airplane. When they encountered severe turbulence, the "A" flight attendant stated he was wedged between the bar cart and the wall, while the "C" flight attendant was not braced. The "C" flight attendant broke his ankle during the encounter.

According to the "B" flight attendant, they were thirty or forty minutes out of Atlanta when they encountered unexpected turbulence. She was in the forward galley, and was able to quickly secure herself in the forward jumpseat. The seat belt sign was illuminated.

According to the Inflight Manual supplied by Continental Airlines, the Captain should warn flight attendants of potential weather problems before departure. Once inflight, flight attendants should initiate periodic updates from the Captain regarding weather conditions. In the event of unexpected turbulence, a flight attendant should take the nearest seat, and wait for the Captain to advise when it is safe to resume cabin duties. In the event of an expected encounter with turbulence, the Captain should make the seat belt sign announcement and instruct the cabin attendants to secure the cabin and galleys. Flight attendants should then take their seats and fasten their seatbelts.

Neither the cabin attendants or the flight crew indicated the flight crew made an announcement for the cabin crew to secure the cabin and take their seats.

According to a weather report given to the crew members before departure, light to moderate turbulence below 24,000 feet was forecast in the area. There was also a line of severe thunderstorms moving through Georgia and Florida at the time of the encounter. It contained winds gusting to 50 knots, hail with a 1 inch diameter, and cloud tops above 45,000 feet. The intensity and coverage of the thunderstorms was forecast to increase throughout the afternoon.
Learning Keywords:Operations - Turbulence
Consequence - Flight Attendant Fatality - Injury
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