Becoming an Aircraft Dispatcher
The field of aviation is both highly competitive and highly technical, making it the perfect career choice for individuals who want to work hard and take on a lot of responsibility. Often airline pilots receive all the glory, but there are plenty of behind-the-scenes jobs that require just as much, if not more, training in order to have the knowledge needed to keep planes in the air. Aircraft dispatchers work directly with pilots to get flights to their destinations on time and safely. Following multiple flights at the same time takes a lot of skill and multitasking that is learned through extensive training and licensing programs.
Entry Level Jobs
Although experience with airplanes and flight planning is not required by the Federal Aviation Administration before training to become a dispatcher, many people start at the very bottom and work their way up through the ranks until they decide to commence certification training. Some of the entry-level jobs in the aviation industry that may be good, but are NOT required, for those looking to become a dispatcher include:
- Assistant Dispatcher or flight follower
- Station manager
- Ramp control
These positions can provide hands-on training and knowledge that benefits future dispatch training. A high school degree is often required and a college degree or further education may be helpful as well, if eventually pursuing a managerial position.
Before you jump into a training program, it is may be beneficial that you take the time to learn technical knowledge at your entry level job. By observing those around you and asking for assistance, you can learn how to interpret a Notice to Airmen or make the calculations for weight and fuel required for takeoffs and landings. All of this type of information is basic knowledge that prepares you for an intense training program. Just because you are starting out at the bottom does not mean that you can’t get ready to work your way to the top. But please note that many aircraft dispatcher students come in ‘fresh off the street’, after asking and receiving suggested reading material or lists of typical dispatcher questions and answers, then familiarize themselves with enough material to at least feel more comfortable understanding the profession and entering training.
Complete a Dispatcher Training Program
Aircraft dispatcher training courses require 200 hours of training that can last anywhere from two to six weeks. There are many independent businesses that offer training programs for individuals who want to complete their training as quickly as possible. Do plenty of research before selecting a school, as some has good reputations and others have poor reputations. All programs are supposed to include the following information:
- Navigation and Air Traffic Control
- Flight planning
- Communication protocol & Decision-making
- Aircraft systems and limitations
Training to become a dispatcher is rigorous and students need as much ground-based training as the pilots that fly the planes they will be monitoring.
Pass the FAA Practical Examination
The FAA, usually through the use of DADEs (Designated Aircraft Dispatcher Examiners) provides certification testing in locations around the country, but it must be taken within 90 days of the completion of a training course. The testing is intensive and consists of two parts. The first part is a flight planning exercise that should last 2-3 hours. The second part is a oral exam that should last around 2 hours. A person taking the test has to be able to demonstrate mastery of the following skills including:
- In-flight practices
- Pre- and post-flight procedures
- Flight planning
- Landing regulations
- Emergency protocol
- Flight planning
While the training to become an aircraft dispatcher is not easy, it is a career path that is very beneficial for those who choose to follow it.