Sat, Mar 19, 2011
Regional Airline First Officer Faces Possible 15 Year Prison
Aaron Jason Cope, age 32, of Norfolk, VA, was indicted by a
federal grand jury in Colorado late Wednesday on one count of
operation of a common carrier under the influence of alcohol.
According to the indictment, on December 8, 2009, Cope
unlawfully operated and directed the operation of an commercial
aircraft while under the influence of alcohol. Cope was second in
command, meaning he was the co–pilot and first officer, on
United Express Flight #7687, operated by Shuttle America, Inc. The
flight went from Austin, Texas, to Denver, Colorado.
“The message this case sends is simple, pilots who drink
and fly will be prosecuted and face incarceration,” said U.S.
Attorney John Walsh in a news release Thursday. Walsh made the
announcement in conjunction with U.S. DOT, Office of the Inspector
General Special Agent in Charge Max Smith. DOT IG Special Agents
are in the process of locating Cope.
“The Inspector General and DOT take aviation safety very
seriously," said Smith. "Those who have been granted the privilege
of being issued a commercial pilot’s license have an
obligation to the public they serve and those who violate the
public trust will be dealt with appropriately under the
If convicted, Cope faces not more than 15 years imprisonment,
and up to a $250,000 fine. This case is being investigated by the
Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General, and
the FAA, with full cooperation by Shuttle America. It is being
prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Mackey and Mark
Walsh said these charges are only allegations and the defendant
is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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