United Express Pilot Found Guilty of Operating an Aircraft Under the Influence of Alcohol
On June 17, 2011, after a two day bench trial in U.S. District Court, Denver, Colorado, Aaron J. Cope of Norfolk, Virginia, was found guilty 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 presumed to be under the influence of alcohol while operating the commercial aircraft based on the subsequent analysis of his blood alcohol content. The flight he co-piloted that day included 48 passengers and four crew members. Mr. Cope was terminated by Shuttle America on December 9, 2009. In January 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency order of revocation of Mr. Cope's pilot license and medical certificate.
A sentencing date for Mr. Cope is pending. This investigation was conducted with assistance from FAA.
For more information please see the above link to the U.S. Attorney's Office press release.