A Southern Airways Express Cessna 208B Grand Caravan that made an emergency landing on a highway near Washington DC’s Dulles International airport lost engine thrust after pilots heard a “sudden shattering noise and vibrations coming from the engine area”. 

A recently released preliminary report of the 19 January incident from the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reveals that the Caravan – carrying two pilots and five passengers from Dulles to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, about 88nm (160km) to the northeast – had reached an altitude of 600ft when the pilot and co-pilot saw the standby power light illuminate inside the cabin. 

The pilot attempted to turn back to the airport, but “it became evident that the engine was unresponsive and the airplane was rapidly losing altitude”, the NTSB says. “The pilot made the decision to land the airplane on highway 606.”

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Source: Social media screen grab

A Southern Airways Express Cessna 208B Grand Caravan on a northern Virginia highway on 19 January 

After touching down on the snowy pavement, the Caravan collided with a steel guard rail and came to a stop.

At the scene, NTSB investigators noted damage to the aircraft’s propeller, right main landing gear, cargo pod and fairing. None of the aircraft’s occupants were injured during the emergency landing.  

The aircraft was towed to a nearby parking lot and “secured”, the NTSB says. Its wings were disassembled and the Caravan was transported to Southern Airways Express’ maintenance facility in Lancaster for “further examination”. 

”We are working closely with the authorities to thoroughly investigate the situation, and we will take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety and security of our passengers and our fleet,” Surf Air Mobility, parent company of Southern Airways, said at the time. 

According to Cirium fleets data, the accident aircraft was built in 2003 and joined the Southern Airways fleet in 2022. Florida-based Southern operates 37 of the type.