United Express Pilot Gets Jail for Flying While Intoxicated

The bad news: former pilot Aaron Cope who was found guilty of being intoxicated while co-piloting a United Express flight back in 2009 (a flight actually operated by Shuttle America, a subsidiary of Republic Airways) was sentenced to six months in prison followed by another six months of home detention.

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Captain of Flight Turns Co-Pilot In

The good news, such as it is, is that Cope was detected and turned in by the captain of that Austin to Denver flight, who was actually manning the controls. According to testimony from pilot Robert Obodzinski, the co-pilot cope “appeared to be thinking and speaking clearly,” but that every now and then, the captain caught what he thought was the smell of alcohol.

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At the conclusion of their flight, which was their first of the day, Cope was tested and founded have a blood alcohol level of .094 percent, which is higher than the level for drunk driving in many states, and more than double the level allowed for pilots by the FAA (and it should be noted that Republic prohibits crew members from flying with a level above .02%).

This is rare, but it happens. It’s just fortunate that nothing worse resulted from the incident.

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Published: November 7, 2011