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Co-Pilot Who Allegedly Flew Drunk Pleads Not Guilty

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drunk pilot in court sotvo Co Pilot Who Allegedly Flew Drunk Pleads Not Guilty

Aaron Cope outside the federal courthouse on April 4, 2011. (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – The airline pilot who allegedly co-piloted a Denver flight while he was intoxicated in 2009 entered a not guilty plea at the federal courthouse on Monday.

The case involves a United Express flight that flew from Austin, Texas, to Denver on Dec. 8, 2009. Aaron Cope was the first officer on the plane and is accused of operating a commercial aircraft while intoxicated.

Cope, 32, is a former Denver resident who lives in Norfolk. A grand jury indicted him last month.

Sources close to the case told CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger the captain suspected his co-pilot had been drinking before the flight and apparently radioed ahead to Denver. When the plane arrived at Denver International Airport, the company had a breathalyzer test waiting for Cope.

Outside the courthouse after being released on bond Cope declared that he had no comment when Sallinger asked him about the case.

Cope faces up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. The charge he faces is “Operation of a Common Carrier Under the Influence of Alcohol.”

Cope is no longer piloting planes, according to his wife, and he was fired by Shuttle America, the company that employed him. It operated as United Express.

Cope’s attorney is asking the court to have Shuttle America turn over records regarding the incident.

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