FAA alleges Southern Airways Express used unqualified pilot on 32 flights 

Washington Dulles Airport
Nate Hovee / Shutterstock.com

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has alleged that a regional airline in the United States (US) used an unqualified pilot on multiple commercial flights. 

In a statement published by the FAA, the agency alleged that between October 1 and October 12, 2024, Southern Airways Express operated three Cessna Caravan aircraft on 32 flights with an unqualified co-pilot. 

According to the FAA, the individual had “not passed recent written or oral tests or a competency check”. 

The flights in question operated between Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Virginia and Morgantown Municipal Airport (MGW) in West Virginia. 

“By using an unqualified pilot, Southern Airways Express operated the aircraft in a careless or reckless manner that endangered lives and property,” the FAA alleges.   

Southern Airways Express was founded in 2013 and is a subsidiary of electric aviation firm Surf Air Mobility, which also owns Surf Air.  

Based out of Palm Beach, Florida, Southern Airways Express serves nearly 40 cities in the US across five different times zones. 

Destinations the airline flies to and from include Los Angeles, Pittsburg, Dallas, Atlanta and Memphis.  

Southern Airways Express claims to be the largest commuter airline with a fleet of over 30 aircraft comprised of Cessna Caravan and Grand Caravan, the King Air Super 200 and the Citation Bravo. 

The FAA is proposing a $280,000 penalty against the airline. Southern Airways Express has 30 days to respond to the agency. 

“Our top priority has always been and will always be the safety and security of our passengers. This matter involves a temporary compliance issue regarding a single first officer for a brief period two years ago. As soon as we became aware of the matter, and out of an abundance of caution, we implemented changes to our systems and procedures to ensure it would not happen again. We will continue working with the FAA,” a spokesperson for Southern Airways Express told AeroTime.

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