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CBP Air Interdiction Agent (Pilot)

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CBP Air Interdiction Agent (Pilot)

Old 03-06-2019, 09:52 AM
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Joined APC: Jun 2018
Posts: 52

Retirement is 1.7% x years of service. So 20 years gets you 34% retirement. It's based on your high three earning years.

I would say at this point the only people who should consider this job would be low time Helicopter only guys. The reality of the situation now is that if you have any fixed wing time you should go to ANY airline that will hire you. Over the course of your career you will have way better benefits and earn a boat load more money.

I know people like to complain on these message boards so you should always take all this info with a grain of salt. But I am in one of the better locations in Air and Marine and we have had 4 guys leave to go to other jobs in the last several weeks. There is a reason a high percentage of current Pilots are looking for better opportunities. None of us really know what this agency is going to look like in 5 years. At the current rate of decline we are seriously concerned about whether or not Air and Marine will survive in its current form for us to make it to retirement.

My opinion is that this isn't a terrible job but it used to be WAY better and its getting worse every day due to incompetent leadership and high attrition rate.
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Old 03-07-2019, 08:34 AM
Gets Weekends Off
Joined APC: Jun 2011
Posts: 472

Bring back the Super Cubs and Iíll sign up in a heartbeat!
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:01 PM
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Joined APC: Dec 2017
Posts: 47

When looking at the possible new hire locations, odds are that you will fly a MQ9, C-206 or AS350. Yes, it will eventually be possible to get into a Hawk in PR or McAllen.

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Old 03-12-2019, 08:42 AM
On Reserve
Joined APC: Jul 2016
Posts: 14

I must agree with Saywhat. This is a good job for helicopter bubbas, if you are able to live in the new hire locations. There are still some locations where fixed wing guys have a great job but any new hire will never get to them because their days are numbered. The pathways have been intentionally blocked, not out of malice just to meet current needs. Fixed wing, multi engine pilots will probably regret accepting a position with CBP as the spectre of the UAV is too great. Do not expect to come here and build fixed wing time in multi engine turbine aircraft. You could, however, become the highest paid single engine piston pilot in the world.
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Old 03-12-2019, 10:05 AM
On Reserve
Joined APC: Mar 2019
Position: 4000+ hours TT, 700 NVG
Posts: 12
Default 15 years and have now come to regret it

I wanted to post a warning to anyone considering this job. As many others have already posted, its not what it used to be.

WARNING: I'm bitter and jaded. But I speak the truth.

Let me start with our contract rules. There are only two.
Max 16 hour crew day
Min 10 hours crew rest.

LEAP= we don't pay you overtime, and can make you stay 16 hours or have you work on your scheduled day off. For no extra pay.

So LEAP is an additional 25% above your base pay. The expectation is that you will work a 10 hour day a preponderance of the time. What does that mean? It means, 25% more pay for 25% more time. That's not overtime. That means they expect you to work a 10 hour day, 5 days a week, but only get paid 10 hours at the regular rate. What a deal for them. The 40 hour work week is now a 50 hour week. We don't always work a 10 hours day. But....

LEAP allows management to call you in on a day off, and not pay you for it. LEAP has become managements solution to manpower shortages, and catching up on flight hours.

Overtime: Most people at AMO/OAM, whatever we call ourselves this year, don't know this part. Though there are times we can get overtime. Its not at an overtime rate. Its actually at the GS-12 rate. Also, there is a pay period cap on it.

Example (real life story): Monday 0800 shift. Do a "patrol" for 2 hours. Land at 1200. At 1500 management gets a "request", and tells you to stay late. Fly from 1700-2000. Refuel+Red Bull. Fly 2100-2300. Feel good. Caught some bad guys. Land, paperwork. computer locks up. redo paperwork. Leave by 2400.

Supervisor says only 10 hours off. Needs me to do a Mx flight tomorrow.

Get home, cant sleep because of the 2000 Red Bull.

Tuesday: 1000-1800 (6 hours sleep, but risk assessment is still LOW)
Wed-Friday: 0800-1600 Plus some extra LEAP hours
Friday afternoon: We just got a call. You need to work Saturday 1200-2400

So that's 56 hours of work. 1 day off in 7 days, and paid for 50 hours of regular pay. My point is not about pay. My point is, LEAP has become a way for management to solve all its problems. They can write a normal looking schedule. Then completely change it day to day, and it doesn't cost them a dime. There are no consequences or cost to change your schedule.

Am I whining? When I took this job, I didn't appreciate ALPA union work rules. Now I completely understand. Now I understand why airline pilot negotiate new terms. Its not just more pay. Its because management keeps finding a loophole. Here the loophole is the size of Texas.

I'm not trying to whine. I'm comparing this to the airlines. Hence this forum. Some of you remember these days. Here is the important part: IT NEVER ENDS. This goes on every week, every month, every year for 20 years. There is no seniority. No 96 hour squadron stand down. Work ups. Down time. Bidding. Nothing. You can, and likely will be treated the same from day one to your last day. It actually get worse? How? The older you get, the more quals you have. Like Mx pilot or IP. Then they totally jerk your schedule around. You can now be used to fill all the schedule holes.

Extra pay for IP? No
Extra pay for Mx Pilot? No
Extra pay for Saturday work: No
Extra pay for coming in on a day off, because you really do enjoy catching bad guys? No (Our bonus is around $500 a year)

The first 10 years here were great. I couldn't say enough good things. Now the smart ones have retired or left themselves for the airlines.

You will very likely enjoy the first 5 years. Then you will realize how little time you are seeing your family. How little management cares about your well being. That there is no policy you can reference that protects you. How dysfunctional HR is. IT systems that don't work. Hours to do a travel claim and spending months for it to be paid. How unreliable, lazy or incompetent some of the mechanics are. Your favorite and trusted mechanic got laid off with the "new contract". Your supervisor has never flown an airplane. Your director hasn't worked a weekend or past 1900 in 5 years. Important positions in the branch go unfilled.

Then you will look at your friends at places other then CBP. Their lives have been improving over the 5 years while yours just keeps getting worse. With no seniority, policy or rules. But you will get 10 hours crew rest and random days off that may or may not match your families.

Good luck. Are you single and dream of flying big iron? This may be the perfect job for you. Does your wife want to live in Laredo for 5 years and your days off are Friday and Saturday? Do you want your kids to go to a decent school? Do you want to participate in the after school lives of your kids at least half the week? Do you want to take orders from a person that has never flown an airplane, works M-F, peaked in the 9th grade and weighs 300 lbs?
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Old 03-12-2019, 10:24 AM
On Reserve
Joined APC: Mar 2019
Position: 4000+ hours TT, 700 NVG
Posts: 12
Default LEAP and Overtime

LEAP: LEAP stands for Law Enforcement Availability Pay. Here is what it means:
- LEAP is your basic pay x 25%
- We are exempt from FLSA Work Rules (Fed Labor Standards Act)
- We are expected to work a 10 hour day, 5 days a week
- We are not paid for unscheduled or unforeseen work. Any changes that happen during the current work week are not paid.

Examples or LEAP (no extra pay)

- Saturday is your day off. Boss tells you Friday afternoon to work a 8 hours shift the next day.
- Your shift is 0800-1600. Someone gets a "tip", and you need to do a patrol at 2000 because there is nobody is scheduled that night.
- TDY and scheduled for a 12 hour shift. This is considered only 2 hours of overtime. Not 4.

Overtime: Overtime is only authorized if you are scheduled for it the week prior, and only for hours beyond a 10 hour day OR if you are scheduled to work beyond 5 days in normal 7 day week. DIRTY SECRET: In the rare times overtime is scheduled and approved. The overtime pay rate is LESS then your normal salary rate. YEP! I cant find it, but basically you get regular GS-12 pay. Not your GS-13 rate+LEAP. More hours and less pay. Remember I said we are exempt from FLSA.

So to recap: We are short pilots. So how do we keep up? Work more LEAP and schedule overtime pay that is cheaper then hiring a new pilot. Win+Win for AMO.
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Old 03-12-2019, 10:49 AM
On Reserve
Joined APC: Mar 2019
Position: 4000+ hours TT, 700 NVG
Posts: 12
Default Scheduling

Scheduling: Are schedule is basically done by "Pay Period". Which is 14 days. 99% of the time you will get 4 days off per Pay Period.
- is always a Sunday through Saturday (14 days)
- there is no rule which 4 days
- nothing says you will get two days off in a row
- nothing says you will get a Friday or Saturday off

Example (not typical, but does happen):

Off Sunday and Monday
1400-2200 for 10 days (Tuesday though following Thursday)
Off Friday and Saturday

There is no national policy on schedules or shifts. Each branch has sets their own shifts and days of the week. Ive rarely seen two do it the same way. Many places will have 2 or 3 "groups". Group A may be 0600-1400 Sunday through Thursday. Group B Tues-Sat 1400-2200. Group C 1800-0200. They may switch monthly or quarterly. You may move around a lot due to training or to cover holes in the schedule.

8 hour day: you must work at least 8 hours a day and 40 hours in a 7 day week. So no matter what. You must be at the office. Even if all the planes are broken, the Wx is awful or you just cant fly, you will stare at the ceiling (not really.. see next post). There is no 96 hour liberty or "on call" at home. Home doesn't count for anything, and we don't have G vehicles. So unlike our Boat Drivers who can drive around in their G rides and take a 3 hour lunch with the guys or go visit a Marina on the way home when they are unable to float, we sit in the office. Sometimes we can take a g ride to a local airport... but.. you still have to bring it back to the office at the end of the day. That gets stupid and boring fast.

TDY: I generally feel that TDYs are a good deal. Go someplace new. Do something different. Catch bad guys. get per diem. Stay in a decent hotel and get hotel points Ive been to good places. Ive been to terrible places. But I knew that part when I took the job. So cant complain. TDY is good because the work is sometimes hard. Like 0200 patrols, but at least you get per diem, and get decent sleep in quiet hotel room. I enjoy TDY, because at home we take off and land at the same airport. Nothing like 70 hours a month and never landing at a anywhere but your home base. Are we there yet? Circles
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Old 03-12-2019, 11:05 AM
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Joined APC: Mar 2019
Position: 4000+ hours TT, 700 NVG
Posts: 12
Default Typical Day

Typical Day: Most places start with a shift brief. There isn't always a flight schedule, if there is, its not in stone. So there will usually be a shift brief. Figure out who came to work, what aircraft are working, which need a Mx pilot, a Wx brief and intel. This is the good part. when you come to work, you never really know what you will fly, where or with who. But that is a double edged sword.

When you are not flying, there is often plenty to do. A mix of things that are actually important:
- gun range each quarter
- tactics training each quarter
- duty desk
- online annual training
- admin stuff: timecards, travel authorization, travel claims, misc

Then there is the stuff that will make you scream:
- IT systems that lock up
- outdated or poorly designed systems that require an expert to understand
- HR persons who hate their job, are incompetent, both and are generally unhelpful.
- Unfilled support positions. People who quit or retired, and take months to replace. Payroll person, travel person, Mx officer. Those jobs you can live without, but make things much harder to do.
- paperwork: Its the G, we love paperwork. We don't know why we are doing it, but it has to get done or someone, somewhere may have to work or not get their bonus for the year.
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Old 03-12-2019, 11:27 AM
On Reserve
Joined APC: Mar 2019
Position: 4000+ hours TT, 700 NVG
Posts: 12
Default The Staff

- Aviators: tough one to describe. We are not a professional aviation organization. I don't care what some may say. Our organizational model is not designed like a aviation unit. It is BP model. leadership is not required to have any aviation background. Their is no leadership path or position for experienced pilots. An IP or standards pilot is still a GS-13 and gets paid the same as a line pilot who only has a rotor or fixed wing rating. There is no chief pilot.

Supervisors: A BP agent can lateral to AMO and become a supervisor. An AIA can ONLY become an SAIA. We cannot lateral to BP or supervise boat units. Every unit is different, but supervisors are generally discouraged from flying. This breeds two issues. Weak pilots applying for supervisor. Lazy pilots applying for supervisor. Not saying all or even most are poor or weak aviators. But the system does not reward good aviators who are experts in aviation and want to take on more aviation leadership. I can say that the best pilot in any AMO unit is a line pilot, and not a supervisor. There are good Sups, but the really good pilots very rarely apply for SAIA. This allows weaker aviators or people with little leadership experience to rise quickly. You will not be impressed with the leadership.

Typical Supervisor: Typical may be the wrong term. But here is what many look like, and the number is growing:

-less then 3000 hours (if they are a pilot)

-Not a pilot. Former radar operator, boat driver, BP agent

- Overweight: my point is that we claim to be Law Enforcement, but our leaders set poor examples

- No college

- peaked in high school

Support Staff: This is another area that is really seeing a decline. HR staff is getting smaller. Those that remain are now bitter and angry to have more work and same pay.

Mechanics: Another area in decline. The last maintenance contract gutted our most experienced and motivated mechanics. The contract removed requirements and lowered the bar on hiring. Many with advanced experience either left, were laid off or took a pay cut. Again, more work, less pay, decline in morale. Years ago the mechs were absolutely motivated and trusted. They would bend over backwards. Stay late, help you load the helo, answer questions, or just plain hustle when their was a real mission and everyone was in a hurry to go catch a bad guy. They were part of the team. Most places now have a stressful relationship with their mechanics. Planes that take forever to get fixed. Slow progress, and overall us vs them attitude. Not the ideal relationship for a professional aviation organization. Low readiness rates, slow work, and distrust. Not everywhere, but many places and growing.
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Old 03-12-2019, 11:39 AM
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Joined APC: May 2017
Posts: 51

Just a quick question for the AMO guys, what's happens to a pilot that has a medical issue pop up or ends up losing a medical? How does AMO handle that?
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