How to Become an Air Interdiction Agent

As a pilot in US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine, Air Interdiction Agents are required to possess the highest qualifications.  The most important attributes for these pilots are related to their skills as pilots of fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

The CBP requires that applicants posses at least 1500 flight hours, as well as 250 hours of pilot-in-command.  Applicants must possess at least 75 hours of nighttime or instrumentation flight.  At least 100 hours of flight time must have been conducted in the twelve months prior to the application.

Air Interdiction Agent Certification Requirements

There is a certification mandate requiring Air Interdiction Agents to hold or obtain either FAA Commercial Pilot Certification or Airline Transport Certification:

  • Commercial Pilot Certification—This certification may be received in single-engine airplane or helicopter.
    • Single Engine Airplane—Recipients must possess the following qualifications.
      • 250 total hours of flight time
      • 100 hours of flight time in powered aircraft
      • 100 hours of pilot-in-command flight
      • 50 hours in airplanes
      • 50 hours in cross-country flight
      • 10 hours of instrument training
      • 10 hours of training in aircraft with retractable landing gear
      • 10 hours of solo flight time
      • 5 hours of night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings
      • 3 hours of flight with an authorized instructor
    • HelicopterRecipients must possess the following qualifications
      • 150 total hours of flight time100 hours in powered aircraft, with 50 hours in a helicopter
      • 100 hours of pilot-in-command flight
      • 35 hours in helicopters as pilot-in-command
      • 10 hours in cross-country helicopter flight
      • 10 hours of solo flight in a helicopter
      • 5 hours of night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings
      • 3 hours of flight with an authorized instructor
  • Airline Transport Certification—This is the highest pilot license available in the United States and requires the following qualifications.
    • Successful completion of an examination testing knowledge of
      • Air law
      • Flight planning and monitoring
      • Meteorology
      • Aircraft general knowledge
      • Operational procedures
      • Theoretical principles of flight
      • Communications
      • General navigation
      • Instrumentation
      • Radio navigation
      • Weight and balance
    • Be at least 23 years of age
    • Logged 1,500 hours of flight time
    • Possess a commercial pilot license

In order to become a pilot in the United States, the applicant must be able to read, speak and comprehend English.  The educational requirements for becoming a pilot are rigorous, which is why some universities offer majors or courses in preparation for various pilot tests.

The Air Interdiction Agent Qualification Process

The application process for becoming an Air Interdiction Agent begins with a review of documents and certifications assuring that the candidate has completed all of the requirements, especially the flight time. Following this review, eligible candidates must provide a FAA Class 1 Medical Certificate demonstrating fitness for active duty in an aircraft.  Candidates must also pass a drug test and a background check.

Upon completion of this stage, the candidate must present himself or herself before a three-person panel of Air Interdiction Agents that will review the candidate’s emotional maturity, professional flexibility, ability to work within a team, oral communication skills and integrity.  Following the SI, the candidate will have an oral interview with an Instructor Pilot evaluating their piloting skills and knowledge.   The final part of the application procedure will involve a flight evaluation assessing the candidate in a variety of knowledge and skill areas.

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