FAA Proposes $280,000 Penalty Against Southern Airways Express

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $280,000 civil penalty against Southern Airways Express of Palm Beach, Florida, for allegedly using an unqualified co-pilot on revenue flights. 

The FAA has alleged that between Oct. 1, 2022, and Oct. 12, 2022, the company operated three Cessna Caravan airplanes on 32 commercial flights with a co-pilot who had not passed recent written or oral tests or a competency check. The flights occurred between Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia and Morgantown Municipal Airport in West Virginia.

By using an unqualified pilot, the FAA alleges Southern Airways Express operated the aircraft in a careless or reckless manner. 

The company has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s penalty letter to respond to the agency, who issued a news release on the matter last week.  

Southern Airways Express issued a statement to Muddy River News:

“In October of 2022, a first officer who had been with the company for one-year inadvertently flew past his anniversary deadline for a recurrent check-ride.  When this was discovered on October 13, 2022, he was pulled from the line and was issued (and passed) his currency check.  This administrative error resulted in his being crewed on flights between October 1st and 13, 2022, when he should not have been.  At no point was this a safety issue.  He was competent the day his currency expired, and he was competent the day his recurrent check was completed (which he passed).  This was simply an administrative oversight on the part of both the pilot and the company, as it is equally the company’s and pilot’s responsibility to ensure his legality.

“This was a legal and regulatory issue, and we took it very seriously.  The Director of Operations, Director of Training, Manager of Crew Scheduling, Director of GOC, and Director of Pilot Records who were involved in this incident (along with the pilot himself) were all terminated or have resigned since the incident.  The professionals who now hold these positions have created systems to prevent an administrative error like this from happening in the future.  No such issue has occurred since this incident almost two years ago, and based on recent FAA audits, the corrective actions that we put in place are working to prevent future issues such as this from again occurring.”   

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