Five Basic Reasons an Aircraft Dispatcher Has an Important Job

Though many people do not know that the job exists, an aircraft dispatcher is equally as important as a pilot. In fact, some may argue that they have one of the most important jobs in the flight industry. Dispatchers have many responsibilities, which is why it happens to also be one of the top paying jobs in the flight industry, especially after experience has been gained or once hired by a major airline. Not only does a dispatcher have to monitor and be responsible for one flight, but one dispatcher will likely be looking at multiple flights at once, sometimes dozens at a time or throughout a 8 to 10-hour shift. The following are five of the basic responsibilities that make the aircraft dispatcher so important.

Flight Planning – An aircraft dispatcher is the one who works up the flight plan for every flight before they ever leave the ground. Weather plays an important role in the flight plan, as does a variety of non-routine issues such as national crises, volcanic ash, and more. The plan will include weather reports, conditions in the field, PIREPs, TAFs, METARs, and NOTAMs. Also included will be the maximum allowable weight for landing and takeoff. Once the flight is completely planned, the dispatcher provides the flight plan and release to the captain for a signature or electronic “sign off.” In some rare occasions, the captain will make a modification, but in most cases, it is signed, showing that the two agree that the plan is the safest for that particular flight. The signatures give authorization for the departure and dispatch of the flight.

Fuel Planning – Another major responsibility of an aircraft dispatcher is the computation of the fuel amount. The dispatcher has to consider the distance of the flight, the weather, winds, ATC constraints, limitations on maintenance, and other affecting factors to determine how much fuel each particular plane will need, and to be sure that it lasts them until their next stop. FAA guidelines, including minimum required fuel, as well as individual company guidelines must be followed.

Postponement – Many times that a flight gets delayed, diverted, or even cancelled, it is due to the recommendation of the aircraft dispatcher. Because the dispatcher views and monitors everything about the flight, they know when there is an unsafe condition that will be threatening to the flight itself, the cargo, any passengers, or the pilots.

Advisement – As a flight is en route, the dispatcher is responsible for communicating with the pilot to advise them of any changes in the flight plan. Sometimes unexpectedly, factors that are out of anybody’s control will cause the flight to change. This does not always, but could possibly include an emergency landing.

Fulfilling Requests – In some situations, the pilot may make a request for certain information or landing advice. Before the request, they may enter into a holding (delay) pattern. Dispatchers are able to see the holding pattern from their monitor using aircraft situation display or other flight monitoring tools, and can begin to gather the information they need before the pilot even asks for it. This increases efficiency with the entire process.

As you can see, an aircraft dispatcher is an extremely important person in the industry of flight and transportation. Without the dispatcher, there would be a lot of information in regards to safety and efficiency that would slip through the cracks. If you are interested in becoming an aircraft dispatcher, look into your schooling options today.

Sheffield School is the world’s oldest aircraft dispatcher school and was established in 1948.



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    “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
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    “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.
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    “I entered my profession, with more knowledge and information than dispatchers who have been practicing their craft for more than ten years. Not only has Sheffield provided a top notch education, but they have also instilled in me the confidence to succeed.” A.Z. Sidebar AZ
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    “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
    “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
    “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
    “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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