On September 20, 2000, about 1745 eastern daylight time, a Boeing 767-332ER, N172DZ, call sign DAL1581, owned and operated by Delta Airlines Inc., encountered turbulence in clouds over Dublin, Georgia. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and an instrument flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 121 scheduled domestic flight. The airplane was not damaged. The flightcrew of two reported no injuries. Three flight attendant (F/A) reported serious injuries. Four flight attendants reported minor injuries. Thirteen passengers reported minor injuries, and 228 passengers reported no injuries. The flight had departed Fort Lauderdale, Florida, en route to Atlanta, Georgia, at 1625.

The flight was descending out of FL290, when it encountered severe turbulence. The first officer (F/O) was the pilot flying at the time, the speed brakes were extended, the airspeed was 290 knots, and weather radar was in use, with no indications of conditions associated with turbulence. There were no reports of turbulence from either air traffic control (ATC), or other aircraft. The seat belt sign was "ON" for 10 minutes prior to the accident.

According to Delta Airlines, at the time of the accident the flight attendants were in the galleys and aisles performing cabin duties associated with the beginning of descent. When the turbulence was encountered, they were thrown initially upward, and then deposited into various positions on the floor and seats. Passengers who had not fastened their seat belts were also thrown vertically upward, and then back down.

The flightcrew reported the event to ATC, declared a medical emergency, and requested direct routing to Atlanta. The flight was provided priority handling for landing, and landed at Atlanta without further incident.

The Survival Factors Group on October 26, 2000, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida interviewed five of the seven flight attendants on board the accident flight. Two flight attendants were interviewed via telephone conference calls in November 2000.

According to the F/A that was identified as the On Board Leader (OBL), Door 1L jump seat (aft facing), stated that the flight had encountered "a little chop" while climbing. The "fasten seatbelt" sign was off until they encountered an area of moderate chop when the "fasten seatbelt" sign came on and the captain made an announcement. The sign did not go out for the remainder of the flight. The flight attendants had just finished the beverage service and he walked to the back of the airplane where the galley carts were being restocked. He was walking forward from the galley in the left aisle with several sodas and was checking seatbelt compliance when the airplane "buffeted for 4-6 seconds." He looked for an empty seat to sit in, but there were none as this was a full flight. He was "thrown upward and hit the ceiling and came straight down laying across the middle seats." He stated that three male passengers caught him as he fell.

Passengers began ringing the F/A call buttons, and a passenger came up from the back of the airplane and told him that the three flight attendants in the aft galley were "pretty badly hurt." He picked up the P/A and made an announcement to the passengers that medical assistance was needed in the back of the airplane. He walked to the aft galley and called the cockpit to describe the situation. He saw one cart overturned, but did not remember seeing a second cart. There were items from the cart scattered about. There was "a nurse, a doctor, a few others with medical experience, and an ex-Continental flight attendant attending to the injured flight attendants." He told the cockpit crew that they would need medical assistance to meet the plane. The doctor told him to request that four ambulances meet the airplane. He provided the doctor and nurses the medical kit from the cockpit as well as first aid kits from the cabin.

Five flight attendants and three passengers were transported to Southern Regional Hospital, South Fulton Medical Center, and Atlanta Medical Center for their injuries. The flight attendants' self-reported injuries are included in their interview summaries (See Survival Factors Group Chairman's Report an attachment to this report).

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