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Drunken Pilot Gets Jail Time

November 5, 2011 by staff 

Drunken Pilot Gets Jail Time, United Express pilot Aaron Jason Cope, 33, of Norfolk, Virginia, was sentenced on Friday morning visit to the U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim to serve six months in federal prison followed by 6 months of house arrest for operating a common carrier under the influence of alcohol, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver.

The judge ordered Cope to spend the first three months of house arrest under electronic surveillance, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Coping was also sentenced to serve two years probation, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver.

U.S. District Judge John R. Is visiting Tunheim in the District of Minnesota. Front was ordered to report to a facility designated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons on January 3, 2012, according to a press release.

According to the U.S. Attorney, s Office in Denver: Cope was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on March 16, 2011. He was convicted of the charges alleged in the indictment, namely, the operation of an aircraft under the influence of alcohol after a bench trial of two days that began on June 6, 2011 and concluded on June 7, 2011. Judge Tunheim’s written opinion to find the defendant guilty was issued on June 17, 2011. Coping was sentenced today, November 4, 2011.

According to the indictment, the facts presented at trial, and the written opinion of Judge Tunheim, the December 8, 2009, COPE was the co-pilot and first officer of United Express flight 7687, a commercial flight operated by Shuttle America, Inc. Austin, Texas to Denver, Colorado. As co-pilot and first officer, Cope was in a “safety sensitive” position. The captain of flight 7687, Robert Obodzinski, sat close to Cope in the cckpit. Obodzinski testified that although COPE seemed to be thinking and speaking clearly, periodically during the flight detected an unusual odor, which finally concluded was the smell of an alcoholic beverage. Upon reaching the gate at Denver International Airport (DIA), Obodzinski bowed and “took a large pinch.” Obodzinski testified that he concluded that the odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from Cope.

According to the facts presented at trial, contact Obodzinski to delay sending the next step planned for the flight until the problem was resolved. While COPE came to perform a post flight inspection, Obodzinski spoke by telephone with the pilot acting head of the airline, your union representative and a Human Resources Manager at Republic Airways, the parent company of Shuttle America. COPE Once again the cckpit, Obodzinski reportedly told him, “If you have any problem taking a breathalyzer, sick call and out of here”, which COPE said, “Well, I guess that will be best to cancel sick then. ” Obodzinski was directed by his company to escort Cope for alcohol testing facility in the main terminal of DIA.

In the test facilities, according to testimony, Cope said he had gone to a bar with a friend and beer, also purchased a gas station nearby. On December 8, 2011, at 10:33 am COPE was administered a breathalyzer test, which reflects the alcohol content was .094. At 10:54 a.m. a second “confirmation” test was administered, reflecting a content of 0.084 percent alcohol. In the opinion of Judge Tunheim, Republic Airways, the parent company of Shuttle America, has a “zero tolerance” regarding alcohol use in safety sensitive positions, and considers that levels of blood alcohol .02 percent of reasons for termination. The FAA prohibits an individual from acting as a crewmember of a civil aircraft under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content of 0.04 percent, or eight hours after consumption of any alcoholic beverage.

“The public rightly expects that airline pilots will not drink and fly,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “Due to fly while intoxicated is a felony and puts the lives of passengers and people on the ground in danger, we will process quickly and effectively – every time.”

“Today’s sentence is a clear sign that severe sanctions are reserved for pilots who act in a criminally irresponsible and lacking the basic duty to protect passengers who are in charge,” said Max Smith, Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Inspector General (OIG) Special Agent in Charge of the Fort Worth Regional Office. “Both the DOT and the OIG are committed to ensuring the safety of the aviation system of the Nation. We will continue to investigate and work hard with our colleagues from the prosecution to see that those who violate criminal laws and implement danger to travelers, are punished to the fullest extent of the law. “

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