NTSB Identification: WPR12LA053
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO
Accident occurred Thursday, December 01, 2011 in Oakland, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/29/2013
Aircraft: BOEING 737-7H4, registration: N261WN
Injuries: 1 Serious,2 Minor,97 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The flight was transitioning through an area of known severe turbulence. One of the flight attendants reported that the flight crew asked the cabin crew to secure the cabin early as they expected to encounter turbulence during the descent. Shortly thereafter, the airplane encountered severe turbulence and the flight attendants were thrown about the galley; one sustained a serious injury. The cockpit voice recorder contained audio that was not relevant to the flight (it was likely recorded over by subsequent events), thus it could not be conclusively determined when the flight crew asked the flight attendants to be seated because they could not recall. It is likely that the flight crew’s request for the cabin to be secured was close to the time of the turbulence encounter, since none of the flight attendants had completed securing the service items when the encounter occurred. Synoptic conditions were favorable for mountain wave activity and a significant meteorological information (SIGMET) advisory and airmen’s meteorological information advisories had been issued for turbulence over the region. The flight crew also had an advisory issued from their enhanced weather information systems for severe turbulence. The event occurred in the region that the SIGMET and the advisory for severe turbulence had been issued. According to the filed flight plan, the flight was to descend before entering the advisory area for weather avoidance; however, the planned descent was not followed.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The flight crew’s flight into known severe turbulence associated with mountain wave activity.

Full narrative available

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