A Day as an Aircraft Dispatcher

At Sheffield School of Aeronautics, we are proud of our graduates and that’s because we know how hard they work to master the skill of aircraft dispatch. We asked a student who graduated from our aircraft dispatcher school to describe a day in the life of an aircraft dispatcher for the benefit of our prospective students. This is an aircraft dispatcher job description from a working dispatcher.

When dispatchers walk into work, they can expect their day to go one of two ways: routine or stressful. On a routine day, aircraft dispatchers will file the preferred routing, normal routes, and easily flight follow with no distractions. These days are the most common.

On a stressful day, all the lessons learned in aircraft dispatcher school come into play. Aircraft dispatchers will build new routes, deal with broken airplanes (with items inoperative and/or missing), unforeseen emergencies and diversions; as well as adverse weather, ground delay programs and/or ground stops.

Here are some details that you won’t find in an aircraft dispatcher job description:

A ground delay program must be made after Air Traffic Control (ATC) issues a delay for all flights meeting a certain criteria destined for a specific airspace or when certain airspace must be avoided.

If a ground stop is ordered, all inbound traffic to an airport has been halted on the ground at the departing station.

Both these situations present challenges but when an aircraft dispatcher has both situations to deal with at once, they can expect a busy and some might say stressful shift. It’s imperative to use the lessons learned at aircraft dispatcher school to prevail in these situations.

Rather than the usual aircraft dispatcher job descriptions, Sheffield prefers to give our students all the training and understanding of the job to come. More from our graduate:

There are frequent Ground Delay Programs and Ground Stops in the Northeast due to weather which can cause major and significant reroutes that result in traffic delays in the air.

ATC can issue a Flow Constraint Area (FCA), meaning every flight that departs, and is destined for an airport in the New York airspace might be delayed significantly; especially if the aircraft was filed to fly at altitudes between 12,000 – 16,000 feet. Sometimes, the only way to avoid a two-hour delay is to file the flight around the New York airspace or underneath the FCA. This is where decision making skills learned at aircraft dispatcher school come into play.

In these situations, it is best to create a plan with your pilot to eliminate the delay. The aircraft dispatcher and pilot may choose to adjust altitude or avoid the airspace as an example. Once the new plan is filed, the aircraft dispatcher will contact ATC to inform them of the new flight plan. It’s is up to the dispatcher to think ahead and to plan enough fuel for these changes. By making necessary changes, flights planned proactively can avoid hours of delays. All thanks to your friendly aircraft dispatcher.

Follow the links for more information on aircraft dispatcher school or information about our courses.

Guest Blog from Sheffield Graduate


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    “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
    “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
    “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
    Good afternoon Eric, I wanted to reach out to let you know that training at (airline) is in full swing and I couldn’t be happier that I chose Sheffield. My classmates, while very smart, definitely had subpar training and that has been very evident. I have waited to write a full scale review of the […] Attending Sheffield School benefits airline new hires in preparation for airline training
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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
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    “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
    “Your school has offered me an incredible advantage in the Dispatcher job market.” D.K. D. Kircher
    “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
    “As a graduate of Sheffield School of Aeronautics I am a firm believer that I received the most thorough and well thought out aircraft dispatcher training available. I owe my position in the industry to Sheffield School of Aeronautics.” BF Sidebar BF
    “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
    “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
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