NTSB Identification: DCA10FA032
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of UNITED AIR LINES INC
Incident occurred Friday, February 19, 2010 in
Aircraft: , registration: N173UA
Injuries: 1 Serious,25 Minor,236 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On February 19, 2010, at 2358 UTC, a United B747-422, registration N173UA, operating as flight 897 from Dulles International Airport to Narita, Japan, encountered severe turbulence. United reports that the flight encountered severe turbulence approximately abeam ANC while descending through FL310, on the way to a cruise altitude of FL 300. This altitude change was due to a previous report that indicated that a JAL flight had moderate turbulence at FL320, and FL300 was reported 'mostly smooth'. The Captain reported the encounter was “brief” and included an airplane roll moment left and right along with a pitch up 'wave' action. The stick shaker activated momentarily, and indicated airspeed was about 306 KIAS FL310-FL300. MMO was never exceeded during this period. The seat belt sign was on at the time for passengers and flight attendants. The decision was to continue to destination after assessing airplane systems and passenger/flight attendant condition. There were various communications between the flight and United operations to confirm airplane passenger and crew condition. The remainder of the flight and landing were uneventful. The FAA was not notified at the time of the event of the possible injuries to the passengers and crew. There were 19 crew members and 243 passengers on board.

The on ground inspection has been completed and there was no exterior structural damage to the airplane related to the severe turbulence. The interior damage currently has 25 cabin related defects logged. These include PSU panels through-out the passenger cabin that have been damaged. A few seats may need to be replaced. There are some dents & deep scratches in sidewalls & ceiling panels.

A preliminary report from United indicates that 17 passengers and 9 flight attendants received injuries. All were treated at a hospital in Narita and released. One passenger injury is being researched further.

CVR and DFDR are quarantined and in the process of being shipped to NTSB Headquarters.

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