Southwest flight attendant suffers broken back in California crash landing

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant suffered a compression fracture to a vertebra in her upper back during a hard landing last month in California, according to federal safety investigators.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the impact of the landing was so harsh the flight attendant thought the plane had crashed. She experienced pain in her back and neck and could not move, and was taken to hospital where she was diagnosed with a fracture.

The security office ended its investigation without saying what caused the hard larding.

The NTSB said none of the other 141 people on the plane were injured in the incident at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California.

The pilots told investigators that they were aiming for the normal touchdown zone on the relatively short runway.

“However, it ended up being a firm landing,” the NTSB said in its final report, dated Friday.

Dallas-based Southwest said in a statement Monday, “We have reported the matter to the NTSB in accordance with regulatory requirements and have conducted an internal review of the event.”

An airline spokeswoman declined to provide further information when asked about the outcome of the internal investigation and whether the plane had been inspected for evidence of damage that may have occurred during the a hard landing. The plane makes several flights a day, according to location services.

Shortly after the 18-year-old Boeing 737-700 left the runway, the pilots – a 55-year-old captain and a 49-year-old co-pilot – were notified of the flight attendant’s injury , which was in a jump seat at the rear of the aircraft.

The NTSB, which did not visit the scene of the accident, did not release its investigation documents.

The runway the plane landed on is only 5,700 feet (1,700 meters). By comparison, the runways at nearby Los Angeles International Airport range from 8,900 to nearly 13,000 feet (2,700 to 3,900 meters).

The NTSB investigation was reported earlier by The Dallas Morning News.

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