A Day in the Life of an Aircraft Dispatcher
A flight dispatcher’s day is filled with a variety of tasks that help ensure properly planned and executed flights. As the oldest flight dispatcher school in the world, we wanted to provide some context and information on what the day in the life of an aircraft dispatcher looks like.
A Flight Dispatcher’s Work Schedule
Most flight dispatcher positions have fairly normal working hours, working an average of 40 hours a week, split between 5 days. While days, times, and schedules may vary by airline and exact position, the Federal Aviation Administration mandates that flight dispatchers cannot work more than 10-hour shifts, to avoid fatigue and errors.
Of course, the duties of an aircraft dispatcher can vary based on various circumstances, however, generally speaking, a day will cover the following:
Aircraft dispatchers may begin their day by analyzing radar summaries, weather depiction charts, satellite images, and prognostic charts until they are familiar with the weather situation in their region.
The aircraft dispatcher will then get a rundown of all flights, as well as any unusual situations about flights or weather from the previous shift.
Monitoring and Preparing Flights
The aircraft dispatcher will then have two main concerns for the remainder of their day: monitoring the progress of flights en route and preparing for the flights they must initiate. First, the aircraft dispatcher will check the weather at airports in which the en-route flights are headed. They will then begin flight planning for all of the future ones, which can be up to 20 flights.
For each flight, the aircraft dispatcher will have a list of weather questions to answer before completing a flight plan. Some questions that need to be addressed are: Is the departure visibility good enough for the plane to depart? If so, is the weather at the departing airport above landing minimum? There are several requirements for listing a takeoff and many factors that play into planning takeoffs and landings, and aircraft dispatchers have to plan alternate takeoffs and landings for each flight that they are planning.
After analyzing the weather, the aircraft dispatcher must select the appropriate routes and altitude, and then run the flight plan calculations. Automation helps greatly today since many years ago, aircraft dispatchers had to calculate flight plans by hand. Most domestic carriers have advanced computer programs that select altitudes and “canned” routes based on winds aloft. However, these programs are not always fail-proof and the aircraft dispatcher must review the routing and consider their weather analysis. The aircraft dispatcher must then file the flight plan with ATC.
The aircraft dispatcher is responsible for staying up-to-date on all weather changes and flights en route. They maintain contact with every pilot in flight and must make all of the necessary adjustments if there is a change in weather, based on their alternate flight plans.
View our description of all of the responsibilities of an aircraft dispatcher for more information.
Becoming an Aircraft Dispatcher
Getting your FAA aircraft dispatcher license is easy with Sheffield School of Aeronautics. Our aircraft dispatcher courses can be found at our in-person school, or completed online! Aircraft dispatchers enjoy a career with opportunities for growth and advancement, and exciting benefits.