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Former Commercial Airline Pilot Charged with Operating a Common Carrier Under the Influence of Alcohol

On March 16, Aaron J. Cope of Norfolk, Virginia, was indicted in U.S. District Court, Denver, Colorado, on a charge of operating a common carrier under the influence of alcohol. 

Mr. Cope served as the second-in-command (co-pilot) of a United Express flight that departed Austin, Texas, on December 8, 2009, bound for Denver, Colorado.  Upon arrival in Denver, it was reported to officials of the operating carrier, Shuttle America, that Mr. Cope smelled of alcohol and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.  Arrangements were made to obtain a breath alcohol specimen from Mr. Cope at the Denver airport.

Mr. Cope was determined to be under the influence of alcohol based on the subsequent analysis of his blood alcohol content and was subsequently terminated by Shuttle America on December 9, 2009.  The flight he co-piloted the previous day included 48 passengers and four crew members.  In January 2010, FAA issued an emergency order of revocation of Mr. Cope's pilot license and medical certificate.  This is an ongoing investigation being conducted with assistance from FAA.

Note:  Indictments, informations, and criminal complaints are only accusations by the government.  All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.