If you’re a frequent flyer, you’ve no doubt encountered a rough landing at some point. However, you probably haven’t encountered one this rough…
Southwest 737 has rough landing in Southern California
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its final report about an incident that left a Southwest flight attendant injured. This incident occurred on July 1, 2022, on Southwest Airlines flight WN2029 from Oakland (OAK) to Santa Ana (SNA). The flight was operated by a Boeing 737-700 with the registration code N480WN, and there were 137 passengers and five crew onboard.
The flight operated as usual up until the descent stage, and the pilots were performing a standard visual approach to runway 20R. The landing was rougher than usual, and shortly after exiting the runway, the pilots were informed that one of the flight attendants seated at the rear of the aircraft had injured her back on landing, and required medical assistance.
The flight attendant said she followed all standard procedures. She secured the galley and cabin before landing, sat down in her jumpseat, secured her seatbelt harness, and got into the brace position. She claims that the plane landed with such force that she thought the plane had crashed.
She immediately felt pain in her back and neck, and said she could not move. Paramedics evaluated her and transported her to a hospital, where she was diagnosed with a compression fracture to her T3 vertebra.
Admittedly John Wayne Airport is tricky, but…
It’s worth noting that John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana is one of the trickier airports in the United States for pilots, both on takeoff and landing. The runway is fairly short, at 5,700 feet, and the airport also has some noise abatement policies, which can make takeoffs from the airport pretty exciting.
It’s normal to have somewhat rougher landings at John Wayne Airport, since the priority is touching down as quickly as possible, rather than “floating” the plane for a smooth landing. On this flight, the pilots claim that they were aiming for the “touchdown zone” of the runway, with minimal floating.
It goes without saying that there’s a difference between a firm landing, and one where a flight attendant thinks the plane may have crashed.
I’m obviously no medical expert, but since there were no other injuries on the plane, I’d think that maybe there was some other condition contributing to this? Maybe the flight attendant’s back wasn’t totally straight on impact, maybe there was a pre-existing condition, or something? At least I’d hope that’s the case, because it’s scary to think that a rough landing could lead to major back issues.
A Southwest flight attendant was seriously injured after a rough landing at John Wayne Airport. The landing was so firm that the flight attendant thought the plane had crashed. She ended up suffering a compression fracture to her T3 vertebra. Hopefully she has a speedy recovery, and is able to return to the skies.
(Tip of the hat to Paddle Your Own Kanoo)