A Southern Airways Cessna Caravan on a scheduled flight with seven people onboard made an emergency landing on a busy freeway in Virginia. There were no injuries, and the plane is intact but l damaged from collision with a guard rail. It was snowing at the time of the mishap. The plane, identified in local media as Flight 246, took off from Dulles International Airport after noon and shortly after takeoff made what initial reports said was a “hard landing” on the toll lanes of the Loudoun County Parkway northwest of Washington, D.C. The plane was on its way to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Southern Airways Pacific LLC is a Part 135 operator based in Palm Beach and operates dozens of Caravans. According to Airline Geeks, the company merged with Surf Air Mobility late last year and also owns Mokulele Airlines in Hawaii. As part of the Surf Air deal, the Caravans are to be converted to hybrid electric operation. The carrier recently announced it was buying 100 Caravans to accommodate its growth.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Well done and fortunate outcome. I wonder if icing was a factor. As I recall Caravans don’t handle ice well, not that any plane does.

    • From what I can see on the photo, the plane has some ice on it but doesn’t look like an excessive amount. Bending of the prop blades look to me like the engine had shut down and the prop feathered prior to hitting the guardrail on landing. At least no one is reported injured.

    • Caravans perform excellent in icing conditions. In Alaska they are a workhorse of the backcountry and off airport duties.

  2. Looks like the pilot caught the prop. All three blades look bent. Likely the guardrail as stated in the article. From Wikepedia:

    PT6A Engine: What’s it Worth in Today’s Market? | AvBuyer
    When new, this specific model engine sells for an approximate list price of $1m. The typical overhaul cost excluding Life Limited Component (LLC) replacements is approximately $500k

  3. All i see is impact snow, or post crash snow. Ice very unlikely to cause. Prop being bent means it was likely running, not fully feathered and shut down. Possible but not likely to get huge bend in prop from striking guardrail, etc if not turning. Most likely fuel issue based on my 1000 hours in Caravan, tons in northwest winters. The pt6 just does not quit, at least very rarely.

  4. I’m very familiar with that area. Lucky they didn’t hit any wires and even luckier that they didn’t hit any ground vehicles in the heavy traffic. It’s hard to see and avoid an aircraft coming down from above if you’re driving a car.

  5. Just hope engine failure not pilot induced. Otherwise . . . good job getting back to earth in the most logical place with no one injured. Flight was too short to’ve been related to airframe icing. Had to’ve been systems, engine or pilot induced.

    • Funny you should say that about “pilot induced.” When I was an A&P with PHI in the late ’80’s
      at Lafayette one our 212 pilots lost an engine approaching an oil platform in the Gulf and instead of going to 104% on the remaining PT6-3 he shut down the good engine and smacked the water hard enough to crush the belly pan like an egg shell. Glad no one was injured on this Caravan.

  6. Special ice operations training required during annual Caravan simulator re-currency. Airframe size to power available ratio not conducive to climbing up out of icing conditions. Don’t get in a situation that requires climbing up out of an icing encounter. Your out needs to be no icing conditions available below or behind.