Southwest attendant suffers broken back in hard landing

DALLAS (AP) -- A Southwest Airlines flight attendant suffered a compression fracture of a vertebra in her upper back during a hard landing in California last month, according to federal safety investigators.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the impact of the landing was so hard that the flight attendant thought the plane had crashed. She had back and neck pain and could not move. She was taken to a hospital where the fracture was diagnosed.
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The safety agency closed its investigation without saying what caused the hard chips.
The NTSB said none of the other 141 people on board the plane were injured in the incident at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California.
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The pilots told investigators they wanted to target the normal touchdown zone on the relatively short runway.
"In the end, however, it was a solid landing," the NTSB said in its final report 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."
A spokeswoman for the airline did not respond when asked about the outcome of the internal investigation and whether the plane was being inspected for evidence of damage that could occur in a hard landing. According to tracking services, the plane made several flights a day.
Shortly after the 18-year-old Boeing 737-700 rolled off the runway, pilots -- a 55-year-old captain and a 49-year-old co-pilot -- were notified of the injury to the flight attendant, who was in a jump seat in the rear of the plane aircraft.
The NTSB, which did not travel to the scene of the accident, has not made its records from the investigation publicly available.
The runway the plane landed on is only 5,700 feet (1,700 meters) long. In comparison, the runways at nearby Los Angeles International Airport range from 8,900 to almost 13,000 feet (2,700 to 3,900 meters).
The NTSB investigation was previously reported by The Dallas Morning News.

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