Sheffield School of Aeronautics Blog

Pilots, Traffic Controllers and Aircraft Dispatchers Texting Each Other?

The airline industry is certainly not behind on the times. Pilots, air traffic controllers, and aircraft dispatchers have begun communicating in a very different, yet modern way. The art of texting has officially made it into the friendly skies. Will there be texting and flying laws for these sky buses? Well, it’s not that kind of texting.  

We aren’t talking about emoji’s, memes, and the occasional “lol”. Nope, communication between the pilots, ATC, and aircraft dispatchers is changing from traditional radio into a text-based system.

The system, known as FAA Data Communications, is federally funded and is slow-out-the-gate in terms of implementation. So far, only aircraft that have been equipped with the right tools can take advantage of this new feature.

So far, it has generally been used for takeoff and clearance instructions between air traffic controllers and flight crew. Text messages are sent directly to the flight crew, who can then respond with a receipt notifying the sender that the message has been read.

Aircraft dispatchers will likely join the trend as more planes are equipped with these features.

Everyone agrees that the system is much safer than radio communication. Written clearance and instruction can be followed more closely and there’s less chance for human error.

The most common error in the traditional radio communication is mishearing numbers. Additionally, voice clearance takes much longer than text clearance, faster landing and takeoff times will likely safe airlines millions of dollars long-term.

The system is not ready for wide-spread distribution yet because there are not enough contingency plans and backup equipment to ensure that flights will remain safe if FAA Data Communications goes offline.

How Difficult is Aircraft Dispatcher School?

For over 50 years, Sheffield School of Aeronautics has prepared thousands of men and women to take responsibility for the safety and security of aircraft all over the world. So, what do we do at our aircraft dispatcher school?

We turn aviation enthusiasts into aviation experts that can manage multiple flights while monitoring weather patterns and fuel and strictly adhering to FAA rules and regulations. We take passion and make it profession. We make the skies a little safer every day.

Discussing how difficult aircraft dispatcher school is can be tricky. For simplicity, we’ll break it down into the three most important parts: students, courses, and schools.

Every student is different and some will struggle with aspects of the aircraft dispatcher course that other students will not. After years of aircraft dispatcher training, we have noticed that students who have certain characteristics are more likely to graduate from aircraft dispatcher school, get certified, and find a job.

Persistence, commitment, and organization are all characteristics of successful aircraft dispatchers.

Aircraft dispatcher courses come in all shapes and sizes, like the following:

5 Week Course

3 Week Course

2 Week Course

Sheffield’s Online Aircraft Dispatcher Course

Each student should be aware of own their strengths and weaknesses. The online course is much more difficult simply because students must hold themselves accountable.

Finally, each aircraft dispatcher school will hold students to varied standards. There are schools in the industry that do everything in their power to graduate and certify students to turn as much of a profit as possible.

These schools are doing a disservice to aircraft dispatchers. When it comes time to interview for a job, not only will these dispatchers not be prepared, but the reputation of the school they are coming from will harm their chances of landing the job.

Be wary, keeping studying, and remain passionate! We’ll see you next semester!

Flight Dispatcher’s Path to Become a Pilot

It’s not unusual for an aircraft dispatcher to become a pilot.

The common love for aviation and aptitude for technical calculations and such, make the two very similar. And of course, aircraft dispatcher jobs and pilot responsibilities are very similar; they remain in contact throughout the flight.

Another reason why aircraft dispatchers eventually become pilots is because current regulations prevent dispatchers from working after the age of 56. Most dispatchers use retirement time to finally learn to fly.

However, careers in the aviation industry tend to be long-term, so it is not typical for older pilots to land jobs as captains on major commercial airlines. Though a younger aircraft dispatcher may still have the time, patience, and less family commitments to begin a career as a pilot.

Some airlines may support training and encourage an aircraft dispatcher to pursue a pilot’s license. Oftentimes, it is up to the dispatcher to pay for training, use his or her own time to train, and then take the required certifications.

Having experience as an aircraft dispatcher will increase your chances of an airline hiring you as a pilot. It never hurts to have more experience to assist your career, and knowing the ins and outs of another major aspect of flying can be extremely beneficial for pilots.

Any prospective pilots who want to get a leg up on the competition, listen up! It’s also common for flight school graduates to apply for aircraft dispatcher jobs as an attempt to “get their foot in the door”. This is not advised if you plan on constantly hounding flight operations and chief captains for job opportunities, only to leave when anything else comes up. When it comes to working with airlines, you can easily build a reputation for begging for a job, which is not ideal. Either choose to go to school for aircraft dispatching and be patient before becoming a pilot, or vice versa in order to gain experience. You may find it easier to get hired by a major airline as a flight dispatcher first, so they recognize your name when you decide to shoot for a pilot position.

Which Countries Pay Aircraft Dispatchers the Most?

Sheffield School of Aeronautics has been covering the airlines’ increased need for new talent to enter the aviation field for the past year. Pilots, engineers, and aircraft dispatcher jobs are opening, but there just isn’t enough new talent to fill the positions. Airlines are now trying to solve the issue by increasing pilot, engineer and aircraft dispatcher salaries. 

Right now, all the highest paying aircraft dispatcher jobs are in the United States but the U.S. is also one of the more regulated markets for aircraft dispatcher jobs. Canadian aircraft dispatchers earn the second highest aircraft dispatcher salaries. The third

Aircraft dispatchers in the U.S. must attended aircraft dispatch school and earn their FAA certifications. There are countries in Europe that require much less training time and some countries may or may not have to perform flight monitoring (Germany, Denmark and Austria).

In recent years, the rules and regulations for European aircraft dispatchers are beginning to tighten. The problem has been that without required flight watch/monitoring, some aircraft have run into fuel emergencies. Course changes and fuel calculations are all run through the aircraft dispatcher and so there are far fewer of these incidents in the U.S.

Regardless of where you decide to take an aircraft dispatcher job in the United States, Europe or Asia, all flight dispatching must be conducted in English.

Additionally, all aircraft dispatcher jobs at major airlines require relocation. You and your family will have to live near the airline headquarters. Keep that in mind as you search for position after graduating from FAA dispatcher school.

The Air Force to Meet with Airlines to Discuss Pilot Shortage

The airline industry is being tasked with finding a solution to a possible problem with a projected shortage of pilots over the next 3 to 10 years. According to a study by North Dakota University, 30,000 pilots will reach the mandatory retirement age of 65 by the year 2026. If airlines don’t make enough hires to supplement their personnel, the United States could find itself with a problem of replacing as many as 15,000 pilots.

Sheffield School of Aeronautics is recognized by some of the top airlines in the world, and has heard that some airlines have begun to take precautionary measures to entice new pilots such as increasing the rate of pay as well as agreeing to incremental bonuses with their current pilots over the next few years. PSA Airlines, Envoy Air, and Piedmont Airlines—all American Airlines subsidiaries—have made changes to pilot salaries. PSA has increased wages from $24.62 per hour to $38.50 per hour. Envoy has increased its pay from $25.84 per hour to $37.90 per hour, and Piedmont has raised its pay from $29.38 per hour to $38.80 per hour.

Additionally, the three airlines will include signing bonuses ranging from $15,000 to $20,000 as well as a $20,000 retention bonus paid after one year of service in regular installments. This will nearly triple new pilot salaries from a meager $20,000 annually to a whopping $58,000. The idea is that aspiring pilots will find motivation to get licensed, however the reality is that this will likely not solve the pilot shortage issue and instead just make these companies more attractive to current pilots from other carriers.

The United States Air Force is feeling the effects of the pilot shortage as well. Airlines salivate over military trained pilots from the Air Force and target them as new hires when they’re contracts are up. The Air Force has seen declines in its rate of reenlistments over the past few years. In 2013, 68 percent of eligible pilots signed on for incentive pay contracts with the Air Force. They’ve since seen their retention rates drop to 59 percent in 2014 and 55 percent in 2015.

Of the 745 that were eligible for bonuses in 2015, only 410 accepted them. Considering that the reported cost of training a single F-22 pilot is an estimated $12.5 million, the threat of a pilot shortage is alarming, and as Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services calls it, a crisis.

“We have no trouble recruiting pilots. We have more people who want to be pilots than we have spaces to train them. For us the issue is … we are not retaining enough,” Grosso said. “We have gaps in the force and we are very, very concerned about this.”

A meeting between the Air Force and heads of commercial airlines is scheduled to commence on May 18th at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. It is then that both sides are hoping to solve a mutual problem without competing over the same resources. Some thoughts that may come up are offering seasonal flight times for pilots to fly with commercial airlines and then come back to the Air Force. There’s also conversation about allowing pilots to fly part-time. The concept is to find a way to retain pilots so that the military can have personnel to help protect the country while assisting commercial carriers with manning their planes with qualified pilots in light of the ensuing pilot shortage. 

As our mission is to train the best aircraft dispatchers in the world, our team of expert staff and professionals at Sheffield is curious to see the fate of pilots in the aviation industry, and hopefully the issue doesn’t trickle down to aircraft dispatchers as well.

Education and GPA Needed for Aircraft Dispatcher School

Are you looking to pursue a career in aviation and want to get started as soon as possible? If so, then coming here was a step in the right direction. Among the growing opportunities in aviation are the rise of aircraft dispatcher jobs. Aircraft dispatchers hold the important role of planning flight paths, considering aircraft performance and loading, enroute winds, thunderstorm and turbulence forecasts, airspace restrictions, and airport conditions.

Along with the pilot, those individuals occupying aircraft dispatcher jobs are responsible for 50% of the decision-making process and safety of the flight. Needless to say, only those who are properly trained are up to the task. So where does one go to get started with becoming an aircraft dispatcher?

There are two ways to become a flight dispatcher. One is to possess 2 years of approved recent experience in relation to aviation, such as in an air traffic controller, pilot, or meteorologist role. The other is to complete an FAA approved aircraft dispatcher training course and to do that, you must attend an accredited aircraft dispatcher school.

The easiest path is to attend an aircraft dispatcher school and obtain licensure if you’re over the age of 23. Anyone between the ages of 21-23 will still be able to take the licensure course and FAA practical test, but they will only be recognized as aeronautical competent and won’t receive licensure until they turn 23. Before taking the practical exam, applicants must take the written exam to display knowledge of aviation procedures, regulations and policies. The practical test (which must be taken within 2 years of passing the knowledge test) will demonstrate an applicant’s ability to implement risk-management and security procedures and to recognize hazardous weather conditions.

Upon completion of both exams and obtaining licensure, you’re all set to seek one of the many aircraft dispatcher jobs at an airline!

Advice for Future Aircraft Dispatchers

You may find yourself asking, “Do I have what it takes to become an aircraft dispatcher?” That’s a question best answered by being informed about the ins and outs of an aircraft dispatcher’s role and responsibilities. Fortunately, Sheffield School of Aeronautics has some guidelines that should help you determine how to not only obtain one of the aircraft dispatcher jobs out there, but to also become successful on your path.


  1. Obtain the Proper Licensure


Begin your training at an FAA accredited aircraft dispatcher school. The FAA wants to be sure that anyone given one of its aircraft dispatcher jobs is properly educated on aviation policies, procedures and regulations, with a demonstrative ability to implement risk management and security procedures as well as how to recognize hazardous weather conditions.


  1. Bring the Appropriate Personality Traits and Skills


Graduating from aircraft dispatcher school and being licensed is only one portion of a future aircraft dispatcher’s path to being successful. Aircraft dispatchers, along with the plane’s pilot, have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the passengers on the flight and coordinate the plane’s path to arrive on schedule. This means that dispatchers much possess an attention to detail, be calm and decisive, and be a strong communicator.


  1. Career Outlook


Aircraft dispatcher jobs start out with only a modest salary of about $32k to $40k, however it’s a great path to beginning a career in the aviation industry and pursuing other goals if desired. Those who have held aircraft dispatcher jobs for several years can branch out within their office and accept training on “Specially Qualified” desks. These “Company Select” positions often have overrides that push a senior dispatcher’s salary at majors to approx. $140,000.

EWINS Qualification Dispatcher Weather Training – November 2018

November 15-16, 2018

Sheffield is offering a 2-day Advanced Weather Forecasting/EWINS (Enhanced Weather Information Systems) training course. Our course is an EWINS-qualification program, not a 5-35 minute lecture on the theory and concept of EWINS – it is application. After completing the course and receiving a certificate, the individual will not only be more astute at weather analysis, but will be in a more favorable position to become EWINS-certified.

Read more about the EWINS course here »

EWINS Qualification Dispatcher Weather Training – September 2018

September 27-28, 2018

Sheffield is offering a 2-day Advanced Weather Forecasting/EWINS (Enhanced Weather Information Systems) training course. Our course is an EWINS-qualification program, not a 5-35 minute lecture on the theory and concept of EWINS – it is application. After completing the course and receiving a certificate, the individual will not only be more astute at weather analysis, but will be in a more favorable position to become EWINS-certified.

Read more about the EWINS course here »

EWINS Qualification Dispatcher Weather Training – August 2018

August 9-10, 2018

Sheffield is offering a 2-day Advanced Weather Forecasting/EWINS (Enhanced Weather Information Systems) training course. Our course is an EWINS-qualification program, not a 5-35 minute lecture on the theory and concept of EWINS – it is application. After completing the course and receiving a certificate, the individual will not only be more astute at weather analysis, but will be in a more favorable position to become EWINS-certified.

Read more about the EWINS course here »

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    “Going to Sheffield prepared me for the real world challenges of Aircraft Dispatching. I certainly believe that the method Sheffield used is one not only for success in a real world career, but also one that prepares students to correctly dispatch aircraft.” T.Z. Sidebar TZ
    “After receiving my certificate, I joined a class of 4 experienced dispatchers for Part 121 initial training. Without experience, my preparation at Sheffield enabled me to become active at the same time after the initial training.” PR PR
    “Sheffield School of Aeronautics is known worldwide for its quality training and has been recommended to me by our national airline Swiss International Airlines. Whenever I mention the name ‘Sheffield’ it rings a bell in people’s ears.” IW IW
    “If you want to be the best, first you need to be trained by the best!” P. Hill P.Hill – DHL
    “I am so glad they are like this because it made me a better dispatcher and I really appreciate their high standards. I would highly recommend Sheffield to anyone who is willing to study hard and is serious about obtaining a Dispatcher Certificate.” MC MC
    “Sheffield School of Aeronautics is a highly recognized and respected organization throughout the airline industry. They only produce the highest quality of graduate…” P.W. Sidebar PW
    “I am a month into my new job at a airline coming out of reorganization, and am helping the training department by referencing the excellent and up to date course book provided to all Sheffield grads.” RW RW
    “Their reputation of excellence amongst the industry is second to none. Sheffield School of Aeronautics should be seen as the standard of how it can be done and how it should be done. I was hired at a major airline with no dispatch experience.” A.Z. Sidebar AZ
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    “My experience at Sheffield and my exposure to other aircraft dispatchers that did not go to Sheffield has resulted in an awareness of the superior depth and quality of the training provided by the Sheffield instructors.” CD Sidebar CD
    “I am a graduate of the Sheffield’s Dispatcher Program. I have been a Captain-Part 121 Airline, Certified Flight/Grnd Instructor, and FAA Designated Check Airman and Sim Instructor (Part 121). From my experience I would rate Sheffield School as outstanding in their field.” PT PT
    “While touring my company’s dispatch department before I had my license our OCC manager pointed out that 7 of the 10 dispatchers on shift had come from Sheffield. The overall consensus was that Sheffield grads were able to hit the ground running as they were better prepared.” K.O. Sidebar K.O.
    “As a graduate of the aircraft dispatcher program at the Sheffield School of Aeronautics…My training was intense and thorough and furnished me with the requisite skills for performing my current job as a Flight Dispatch Supervisor.” N.S. Sidebar NS
    “Eric Morris is one of the most if not the most knowledgeable and experienced authorities on Aircraft Dispatching in the United States. He strives constantly to make the industry better.” DH sidebar DH
    “I wanted to tell you I got the job offer from Expressjet, and start next month! I think a couple others from class were hired as well. It just shows the Sheffield reputation when I see graduates from other schools complaining that they can’t get an interview – I wasn’t even back home to Minneapolis […] Dan Gustafson
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