Sheffield School of Aeronautics Blog

Common Myths about Flight Dispatchers

Being a flight dispatcher is far from a glamorous job. The general public doesn’t usually know that they exist, mistaking their roles for air traffic control or pilots. The job of an aircraft dispatcher is a very important one. Sheffield School of Aeronautics is here to clear up a few myths about the work that flight dispatchers do every day.

Myth #1: Aircraft dispatchers work in the tower at airports

Aircraft dispatchers are NOT air traffic control. There are a number of differences between the two positions, but the major one is that air traffic control simply directs traffic based on flight plans and timing. Aircraft dispatchers do the calculations for the flight plan from start to finish. From fuel, weather, aircraft dimensions, flight path and more, the aircraft dispatcher works in tandem with the pilots to ensure the flight is safe and efficient.

Myth #2: Flight dispatchers are hired by the FAA.

While certified flight dispatchers are licensed by the FAA, they are employed by airlines. Every airline uses a specific brand, type, model of aircraft. The aircraft dispatcher must learn the ins and outs of the aircraft, policies, rules, etc., to ensure that they can create the most efficient flight plans possible. Therefore, aircraft dispatches don’t work at the tower in the airport. They work with their specific airline to create efficient and cost saving flight plans for their company. 

Myth #3: Pilots do all the heavy lifting for flights

Wrong! While pilots are the ones in charge of flying the plane, the plan comes from your flight dispatcher. Pilots are the ones who execute the plan and if something does go wrong, they use their experience to make an educated decision from the data their flight dispatcher put together. Pilots and aircraft dispatchers work so closely together that some in the business call aircraft dispatchers “pilots who stay on the ground”. This also means that typically it is the flight dispatchers that cancel, or delay flights based on the information they have and data that are in front of them.

Most importantly: Aircraft dispatchers share responsibility with the flight crew for the safety of the flight. Should something go wrong the dispatchers are considered the surviving crew member and coordinate the emergency ground support if there is a crash. You may not ever notice your aircraft dispatchers but know that they are here to help make sure your flight is as safe and efficient as possible. If you are interested in becoming an airport dispatcher, consider enrolling in one of our dispatcher courses.

Stress Relief Tips for New Aircraft Dispatchers

Being an aircraft dispatcher can be a very stressful job. Nobody notices you until something goes wrong, and if something goes wrong, there are lives on the line. If you are new to the aircraft dispatcher role, there are several stress relief tips that you can use to get through the tough parts of the job. Stress training is extremely important for aircraft dispatcher schools to include so to ensure accurate work and a quality environment. Here are our top tips for stress relief.

Stress balls really work

When you are stressed, sometimes the most helpful things can just be simple things on your desk that you can hold or touch to relax. Little Zen gardens with sand to draw on, colorful stress balls and more can be used to tactically relieve the stress and put your mind at ease during a traumatic time.

Avoid the extra coffee

While caffeine can be a helpful stimulant to get the job done, when you are really stressed, caffeine can make that feeling worse. You are already worked up and anxious when there is a stressful work situation, so don’t add extra caffeine to the mix. A flight dispatcher must keep their head on straight, so avoid the extra caffeine and stick to a non-caffeinated tea to fill your need for a warm comforting drink without the buzz.

Take deep breaths

It seems so simple, but it is an effective tool for calming yourself down. The more stressed you are the more your breathing increases. Increased anxiety and rapid heartbeat are the next steps. Avoid the road to panic mode by taking at least three nice deep breaths, counting to eight and then releasing. Your breathing will slow, your heartbeat will return to normal rates and your mind will clear so you can focus on the important task at hand.

Your favorite smells can help relax you

Scented candles or essential oils can help you stay in the zone. Smells like ocean breeze, eucalyptus, clean laundry, peppermint, pine tree, and more can help you feel relaxed or alert to stay productive. This will depend on your personal scent preference, but it is a great way to stay relaxed throughout your day.

Remember to also take some me time to treat yourself. There are many ways to avoid stress, but the best way is to practice. Stress training for flight dispatchers can make a big difference on the decisions that are made during their work. Dispatcher programs should ensure to warn their students about the dangers of being in such a stress-free environment and how they can avoid burning out or panicking. Sheffield School of Aeronautics understands the complications of aircraft dispatcher positions and we work hard to prepare you to avoid them.

Internet of Things and Aviation

The Internet of Things (IoT) is around us right now. It’s defined as the interconnection of all devices to the internet and to each other. Smart TVs, smart refrigerators, and smart air conditioning are all part of the internetworking. What could this have to do with aviation? Aircraft dispatchers know that the aviation industry is always updating.

The Internet of Things will change the way that aircraft dispatchers, engineers, and even passengers interact with the aircraft.

Here are five examples of the Internet of Things as they relate to aviation:

  1. Wi-Fi on airplanes is the most basic step towards a “smart” plane. Wi-Fi on planes is now more common than ever, and in most cases, it’s free. Aircraft dispatchers remember when electronic devices had to be shut off incase of the risk that they would interfere with communication between the aircraft dispatcher and the captain. Gone are the days where captains had to ask that all electronic devices be shut off.


  1. Flight status updates. Though the ability to track flight status through text message is no longer a new concept, it is forever changing and getting far more advanced. Airports are becoming location-based service providers based on the Wi-Fi setting of passengers. Passenger flow and behavior is being studied at London City Airport, Miami International, and Helsinki Airport right now.


  1. Improved aircraft maintenance and overall safety. The way airlines conduct their daily business is beginning to change behind the scenes. Everyone from aircraft dispatchers to aircraft engineers will be relaying on an interconnected communication between departments and the aircrafts themselves.


  1. Virtual reality is coming in hot. Recently, Qantas began working with Sony to introduce VR headsets as part of the entertainment package on their aircrafts.


  1. Smart planes will diagnose themselves. Software companies, like Microsoft, are creating hardware and software that will allow planes to diagnose themselves already. A connection between aircraft dispatchers and the planes themselves will mean more efficient flight plans and repairs.

These innovations are already on their way!

What Do Pilots Think of Aircraft Dispatchers?

If you are studying to become an aircraft dispatcher or you’ve recently graduated from an aircraft dispatcher school, you’ll likely be wondering what you can expect from the job. Sheffield has a detailed aircraft dispatcher job description that provides insight into your duties, but there is not a lot of information regarding a dispatcher’s interaction with pilots.

Aircraft dispatcher’s talk to pilots all day long. The communication between a dispatcher and pilot is ongoing throughout the flight. One pilot refers to dispatchers as ‘mother’ in his blog Flight Level 390. That should be an indication of the relationship between a dispatcher and a pilot.

The technical speak between pilots and dispatchers is something you’ll learn at aircraft dispatcher school, but it usually takes time to understand what a pilot is communicating between the lines.

We have compiled a list of some of the most common stories and comments that pilots have about dispatchers that we hope will shed some light on this vital relationship.

One pilot on reddit had a view on lazy aircraft dispatcher and said:

“Some dispatchers are lazy and just use the same canned routes over and over again. This doesn’t work when there are giant storms right across the route and now we either have to work a complete reroute or if the storm is close, we may not even be able to get out. Which means we are right back to you, getting new numbers/routes. Having not been a dispatcher, I imagine life is pretty hectic up in ops. Just don’t cut corners for the sake of cutting corners.” (link to answer here)

This is a great insight! The aircraft dispatcher job description always praises planning and attention to detail. If you are using the same routes over and over again, you could be endangering pilots and passengers. Remember to not get bored or lazy on the job.

Another pilot on reddit had a similar comment regarding lazy dispatchers and said:

“The best dispatcher at OO puts a one paragraph synopsis of what to expect throughout the us during the day in the remarks. He writes it once then copies and pastes it to all his flights. The worse ones are the ones that use a canned route on thunderstorm days and expect us to find our own way around, or, worse yet, routing us around a storm as it exists right now…and right through where it’ll be in an hour or two. Here’s a hint: if you have the choice to route us downwind or upwind of a system, choose upwind.” (link to answer here)

Communication is important. Sometimes even just an acknowledgement is all you need. One pilot put it best and said:

“Please don’t disappear. If we send you an ACARS message, please send something back. Even if it’s just ‘COPY’.” (link to answer here)

It’s easy to fall into a routine and if your routine is well thought out and takes variables into consideration, then you have what it takes to be a good aircraft dispatcher. All the best dispatchers are alike, they pay attention.


Sheffield’s Pick: Best Aviation Blogs to Follow in 2018

Are there any aviation enthusiasts out there? If you’re interested in a career in aviation or you are already involved in the industry, then you’re probably spending a lot of time talking and reading about aviation.

Sheffield looked at the best aviation blogs of the past year and decided which were our favorites. These are the best aviation bloggers to follow in 2018:

  1. Aviation Week

Aviation week is a professional aviation blog that provides lots of insight into every corner of the aviation world. It’s a fantastic place to get the most current aviation news. If you’re on the go more often than not, you can subscribe to the news letter and stay informed.

  1. JetHead

JetHead is a professional pilot blog that can be read by all. Chris Manno is an American Airlines pilot with over 30 years of experience. His topics range from “Fearless Flying Guides”, “Airtravel Gotches” and “Airsickness Prevention”.

His blog is easily accessible for amateurs and experts alike and he’s created quite a flowing, already. Definitely worth a read.

  1. Reddit Aviation

Reddit aviation is not a blog but a constantly updated list of top aviation blogs, resources and stories. Members of the aviation industry come together to give insights, talk about the fields they are in, and share some of the most important of even funny news updates they find online.

If you haven’t subscribed, you should.

  1. The Cranky Flier

The Cranky Flier is a fantastic blog for experts, amateurs and aviation industry titans. The blogs founder, Brett Snyder, has had almost every position you can imagine in the aviation and his knowledge of the industry is his real secret sauce.

His blog is a lot less technical than you might expect from a pilot blog or an aviation mechanic blog, but if you want to know about the business of aviation in detail, this blog is for you.

  1. Tales from The Terminal

Tales from The Terminal is the detailed daily musing of an accounted working at a small airport. Jennifer has a much more amusing take on the airline industry and her website disclaimer is proof of that. This airline blog is best suited for the amateur who wants to learn more about the industry in general.

  1. Daddy… Daddy Come Back

Joanna has an interesting take on the airline industry in that she is not directly involved in it at all. Her husband, Steve is a pilot and the inspiration for the blog name came from the words her son said when he saw his father leave for work one morning.

Joanna’s blog is important because it gives us a different perspective on the aviation industry. We hear from pilot bloggers, aircraft dispatchers, flight attendants and the rest but we never hear from their families. This is an eye-opening blog, especially for pilots with families.

  1. Sheffield Aircraft Dispatcher Blog

Is it cheesy to include your own blog in your top aviation blogs of 2018? Maybe, but Sheffield is still the only aircraft dispatcher blog where you can get the latest news about the industry. We spend most of our time teaching, talking, and thinking about dispatching.



Is A Career in Flight Dispatching Rewarding? Quotes from Actual Dispatchers

How rewarding is a career in flight dispatching? Well, like most trades, your career is as rewarding as you make it. But at Sheffield, we think that a career in flight dispatch is fulfilling and rewarding, and so do the thousands of active flight dispatchers across the world. But we understand how difficult it is to relay that information, or that sentiment, without experiencing it.

A career in flight dispatching is extremely rewarding and most new dispatchers are filled with the sense that they are an integral part of the process. Flight dispatchers have one of the most important jobs in the aviation industry, albeit one of the least understood.

We have combed online forums and bulletin boards in the aviation industry to find some quotes from real life flight dispatchers. We think that these quotes should provide some insight into the fields for anyone who is on the fence about attending flight dispatcher school.

“Being a dispatcher is an incredibly rewarding but stressful job. You have operation control that you share with the captain of each flight which means that you need to be proficient with regulations and able to make quick and safe decisions”. Link to full quote.

“Dispatcher here… I absolutely love my job. Is it stressful? Yes and no. There are days that go so smoothly that I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this. But the other days, it’s constant. Mx issues, wx issues, atc issues, you name it. There are times that I have to limit my liquid intake because I don’t even have time to go to the restroom. But man, I love those days.” Link to full quote.

“It’s a really fun job, you have to have your wits about you, so well under stress, and be comfortable making quick decisions.” Link to full quote.

Still not sure about a career in flight dispatching? You can contact someone at Sheffield and discuss it further!


A Reply to Ignorance

October 16, 2017

This is our response to a statement found within the minutes of a meeting in May 2017 of the GALDA (German Airline Dispatcher Association), which included an opinion and generalizations regarding USA FAA Part 65 training and trainers made by the Chairman of the German Airline Dispatcher Association. The link below includes the entire statement. Our response follows.

One statement that we find particularly troublesome is

“The FAA Dispatch license is reduced to a business model and cash machine for FAR 65 training provider. The issue any form of license without a complete and proofed qualification and competence is simply wrong. If there are shortcuts like the FAR 65 license, all other professional competence development concepts for FOO are endangered, also the new Competency Based Training Concept for FOO.”


I’m unsure if this is stupidity, ignorance, or a hybrid of both.

The FAA does not issue a ‘dispatch license’, it issues a certificate, which means the individual is eligible to apply for a job – period. It is not a license to dispatch. It is the airline’s responsibility to rigorously interview the applicant, and if hired, put them through a training period that acclimates them to do the actual job, all of this typically occurs during a 3-12 month probationary period in the USA.

It is best and most advisable not to lump Sheffield School of Aeronautics into any category with any other FAA Part 65 schools, of which there are likely 50+ approvals. I doubt having students self-study a 1500+ ADX-test question bank, that is in constant flux, would be considered ‘fast and easy.’ This is required study before even entering our school. Other schools may incorporate some or all of this standardized test material into their curriculum, much of it being nonsensical and not applicable to an actual OCC/NOC of any regional or major airline within the USA or outside the USA, but Sheffield does not use ADX subject material as the core focus of their courses.

Why have so many carriers, including international airlines, sent people to Sheffield School of Aeronautics (est. 1948) as well as some other schools? In our case, this includes major European carriers such as KLM, Air Berlin, Lufthansa, etc.. If there is no value to the USA/FAA certification, why has this occurred and continues to occur? Most international carriers don’t technically need the training and yet they send their people anyway. So, is the author calling those companies plus Virgin Australia and dozens of others, including Delta and United, et al. stupid, then? 

This sounds to me like someone is using that “US Part 65 training sucks” line to further their own work project. I also find it interesting that, to the best of our knowledge, there are only three countries in the world who share operational control, and the Part 65 certificate works for that – but their own training he speaks of still won’t allow that in other countries. If our process is good enough to give us that authority legally, then, obviously the FAA sees it as sufficient and continues to do so since there appears to be no rewrite of Part 65 in the works. 

If you believe USA FAA Part 65 Aircraft Dispatcher training is insufficient, then I challenge you to block all US air carriers from entering other countries’ airspace as being unsafe since they are insufficiently planned and released. At least Delta’s operations, since they run their own program in-house under Part 65… 

The blog/piece seems to focus on US regulations, many of which are mirrored in one way or another internationally. The author also fails to note that there is more to a Part 65 USA course than regulations. There’s weather theory, non-graphic weather, graphic weather, ATC, navigation, aircraft performance, flight planning, and aircraft systems, in addition to decision-making and situational awareness. Do European turbojet engines work differently? Is weather theory, not climatology, different across the Atlantic? I could go on forever…

FAA Part 65 training in the USA was described in the blog link as ‘Fast and easy’, which is utter nonsense. At least, not at Sheffield School of Aeronautics. Ask anyone who has ever attended this FAA Part 65 school of hard knocks. This is no “shortcut”, and if any US Part 65 school sells a ticket, so to speak, any airline inside or outside of the U.S. with half a brain stem, will simply dismiss that applicant during the interview process. Yet our graduates who return to their homes all around the world, be it USA, Germany, or various European or Asian countries, seem to have little or no problem assimilating into the international standards of other airlines. Why is that? Perhaps the international community should reexamine their own ‘standards.’ Or in the least coordinate and communicate with US Part 65 trainers as to what is lacking in order to make improvements to training. The FAA does not seem to fathom that communications-for-improvement concept at times, but perhaps others around the world can simply communicate what is good and what is lacking –Sheffield would certainly listen.

These “Operations/Dispatch” Federations who are trying to attract young, motivated individuals, yet communicate ignorance, should be admonished, if not shunned entirely. We’re not big into patronizing  ignorance. 

Eric Morris
Sheffield School of Aeronautics (established 1948)





Overbooked Flight Policies

It’s been a reoccurring theme for commercial airlines with overbooked flights for years now, and as it currently stands, there’s seemingly no solution in place to prevent it from happening. It does raise the valid question as to why it continues to take place. Considering the incident that happened on a recent United Airlines flight where security personnel forcibly removed a man from his seat in an effort to accommodate another passenger, one has to wonder whether these situations can be avoided. The gentleman who was pulled off the plane was allegedly a doctor who stated that he needed to go home to see patients. Regardless of whether he needed to be somewhere important or not, he was a passenger who purchased a planet ticket.

The unfortunate reality with overbooked flights is that airlines can and will remove a passenger if no one volunteers to get off the plane. While each airline has its own distinct overbooked flight policies, the one good thing is that the passenger is at least compensated for their inconvenience. The Department of Transportation outlines a list of rights that passengers receive when flying. Depending on what time the passenger arrives at their location after being booked, they may receive:

  • Less than one hour means you aren’t entitled to any money.
  • One to two hours on domestic flights gets you 200 percent the cost of your ticket up to $675.
  • Two or more hours on domestic flights gets you 400 percent the cost of your ticket up to $1350.
  • One to four hours on international flights gets you 200 percent the cost of your ticket up to $675.
  • Four hours or more on international flights gets you 400 percent the cost of your ticket up to $1350.
  • Passengers using frequent flyer award tickets get cash based on the lowest amount someone paid for that flight.
Learning from Flight Simulators

It happens all the time. Exciting individuals come to Sheffield Aviation School with the dream of working in the aviation industry. Like most people, they have all wished that they could fly and aspire to fulfill that dream in some shape or form. Some aspiring flight dispatchers have even utilized flight simulators on a regular basis. However, can flight simulators actually teach people to fly? Well, it depends. Some people approach flight simulator training as a game or a toy, while others take it seriously. It is arguable that those who use a flight simulator may have an advantage in real world flying over those who do not use a flight simulator. But how? Well here’s flight simulator training explained:


How a Flight Dispatcher or Pilot Benefits from Simulator Training

 If you are looking to attend training and certification from an aviation school, it may be a good idea to consider a flight school that has an FAA-approved aviation flight simulator. That’s because flight simulators (at least the advanced ones) can accurately simulate the conditions and features of an aircraft flight deck. The controls may not be an exact representation of each aircraft, but the experience alone can make the transition to operating a real aircraft much more seamless.

Disney’s Epcot has an example of an advanced flight simulation in an attraction called, “Mission Space.” The attraction features a centrifuge that spins and tilts to simulate the speed and G-forces of a spacecraft launch and reentry. FAA approved aviation training devices are much more advanced, but the concept of simulating the flight environment is where the major benefit is.

Aspiring commercial pilots without the required hours to work for an airline can find flight simulators as a sharpening tool for their skills. Although flight simulators don’t offer an alternative for flying, they can be quite useful for learning.


What are the Different Classes on an Airplane

If you’ve ever flown anywhere in the world, you may be aware of the different seating classes on a flight. Airlines traditionally have three travel classes in which a passenger may be seated in. There include First Class, Business Class, and Economy Class. Each airline’s policies and regulations differ, but overall, the cabin configuration will determine how many classes of service are offered. Here’s a guideline of how the different airline classes are broken down and how they render services to passengers in each location: 


Different Airline Classes Explained

First Class

First Class service is typically the priciest of the classes. Passengers seating in the first-class section have more comfortable seating and are often given extravagant services. These sections are usually occupied by celebrities and wealthy passengers.

Business Class

Business class (also known as executive class) flight tickets are also expensive, but much more affordable than first class. The difference between the two is that business class has fewer perks, but for a passenger that fly’s economy regularly, this is not an issue. Some airlines have abandoned first class seating for this reason.

Economy Class

Economy Class cabins are broken down into two categories. “Regular Economy” and “Premium Economy.”

Economy Class seating is the most basic of accommodations. Economy passengers receive standard service with no real perks. Economy services range from airline to airline, but essentially, you’re flying Economy (also known as flying coach) to get from point A to point B.

Premium Economy, is slightly better Economy Class seating, but must less extravagant than Business Class or First Class. The name ranges with each airline, but the biggest difference between regular and premium is the spacing of the seating and the quantity of menu items available to you.


Related: Are Dogs on Planes an Aviation Safety Issue?

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