United B737 near Billings on Feb 17th 2014, turbulence injures 12

Last Update: April 25, 2020 / 15:55:21 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Feb 17, 2014

Classification
Accident

Airline
United

Flight number
UA-1676

Aircraft Registration
N23708

Aircraft Type
Boeing 737-700

ICAO Type Designator
B737

A United Boeing 737-700, registration N23708 performing flight UA-1676 from Denver,CO to Billings,MT (USA) with 114 passengers and 5 crew, was descending towards Billings about 15 minutes prior to landing when the crew declared emergency reporting a flight attendant had been badly injured when the aircraft experienced severe turbulence, the flight attendant was bleeding very badly and they couldn't stop it, medical services were requested to meet the aircraft at the gate. Upon contacting Billings approach frequency the crew indicated they did not have ATIS and requested approach to read the weather information, subsequently opted for a landing on runway 28R. At 13:21L (20:21Z) the aircraft touched down safely on runway 28R about 15 minutes after declaring emergency and taxied to the gate. Two flight attendants received serious, 6 passengers minor injuries.

The airline reported that 3 crew and 2 passengers were injured when the aircraft encountered severe turbulence near Billings. All but one flight attendant were released from hospital later the evening.

The FAA reported the crew declared medical emergency after a flight attendant got injured when the aircraft encountered turbulence.

A passenger reported the aircraft had just left cruise level when the aircraft seemed to drop sharply sending loose items in the cabin and flight attendants to lift off. One flight attendant hit the cabin ceiling very hard causing the panel to crack, then everything came down again onto the floor. A parent holding her baby in her arms could not hold the baby which lifted off, too, but did not seem to have received injuries.

According to FAA radar data the aircraft had been enroute at FL380, initially descended to FL340 about 225nm south of Billings subsequently showing some level deviations at FL340, descended further to FL320 again showing some level deviations before starting the descent towards Billings.

The return flight UA-1119 to Denver was cancelled. N23708 is still on the ground in Billings about 23 hours after the occurrence.

On Feb 19th 2014 the FAA reported in their preliminary reports, that the aircraft was at FL340 when the aircraft encountered turbulence. 2 flight attendants received serious injuries, 6 passengers received minor injuries.

On Feb 19th 2014 the NTSB tweeted they have opened an investigation into the turbulence event.

On Mar 1st 2014 the NTSB stated the aircraft encountered severe clear air turbulence while enroute at FL340 causing serious injuries to two occupants and minor injuries to nine occupants including one lap child. The crew declared emergency and continued to Billings. The flight crew reported the weather was clear at the time of the turbulence encounter.

On Apr 25th 2020 the NTSB released their final report concluding the probable cause of the accident was:

an encounter with severe mountain wave turbulence during cruise flight.

The NTSB reported two flight attendants received serious, one flight attentant and 9 passengers received minor injuries.

The NTSB wrote:

The flight departed DEN normally and climbed to a cruising altitude of flight level (FL) 380. The flight encountered light turbulence and the crew requested, and was granted, a descent to FL360 followed by a descent to FL340. The flight crew extinguished the seat belt sign when the ride smoothed out. Flight data recorder (FDR) data indicated the airplane was cruising about FL340 when it encountered an area of severe turbulence for about 55 seconds. The most severe turbulence occurred for about 10 seconds when the vertical acceleration fluctuated between about -1.23 g's and +2.05 g's, the lateral acceleration fluctuated between about -0.27 g's and +0.23 g's, the pitch fluctuated between about +5.8° (nose up) and -1.8° (nose down), and the roll fluctuated between about 14° left and 20° right.

At the time of the turbulence encounter, the two flight attendants (FA) in the forward galley and the one FA in the aft galley were injured. during the turbulence encounter and suffered. The aft FA was unconscious after the event and tended to by medical personnel passengers until landing. After being notified of the serious injuries, the flight crew declared an emergency with air traffic control and arranged for medical personnel to meet the aircraft at BIL. The three FAs were transported to the hospital. One FA was diagnosed with a fractured fibula; one was diagnosed with fractures of her scapula, a rib, cervical vertebrae, and thoracic vertebrae; and one was treated and released with minor injuries.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Feb 17, 2014

Classification
Accident

Airline
United

Flight number
UA-1676

Aircraft Registration
N23708

Aircraft Type
Boeing 737-700

ICAO Type Designator
B737

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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