The Difference Between an Aircraft Dispatcher and an Air Traffic Controller

People often think there is no difference between an aircraft dispatcher and an air traffic controller, but the two jobs are not the same. Although they both deal with air traffic, the aircraft dispatcher and air traffic controller differences are quite substantial. If you are interested in becoming an aircraft dispatcher, it is important that you are aware of the aircraft dispatcher and air traffic controller differences and what each role entails.

Aircraft Dispatcher Role

An aircraft dispatcher is employed by an airline and is heavily involved in the pre-planning of flights to ensure the safety of the trip. They review the plane’s crew, monitor the plane in-flight, and focus on maximizing efficiency.

An aircraft dispatcher’s responsibility is to conduct thorough research in order to create the flight plan for the pilot. The basics of the flight plan will include the flight’s planned route, altitudes, airports, maximum weight, and other important variables. An aircraft dispatcher will also do a great deal of research on the weather conditions. Full flight plans will typically include weather reports, weather conditions, alternative airports in case of inclement weather, and other pertinent meteorological factors.

In addition to these responsibilities, aircraft dispatchers must also consider the fuel. They must calculate not only how much fuel is needed to reach to the flight’s destination, but how much fuel the plane needs to get to its next stop while still following FAA guidelines.

Because aircraft dispatchers have an integral role in flight preparation, they must attend dispatcher schools or complete a dispatcher program as well as receive their FAA dispatch license. If you are interested in becoming an aircraft dispatcher, Sheffield School of Aeronautics has a comprehensive program to train students and help them achieve these dreams.

Air Traffic Controller Role

Air traffic controllers have a different, but equally important job. They are typically employed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)1 and work to keep aircrafts safe through radio and radar contact. You may have seen them in airport towers, radar rooms, and on the ground.

Air traffic controllers will direct the movement of planes. They want to ensure that the planes are always safe distances apart. They also provide weather information to pilots, but not in the same preliminary manner as aircraft dispatchers. Instead, they typically provide current weather conditions while the plane is en route. Air traffic controllers also handle unexpected events and emergencies. For this reason, you may have heard them mentioned in news reports more often than aircraft dispatchers.

Now that you know the difference between an aircraft dispatcher and an air traffic controller, you can better decide what role may be best for you. Though there are several differences between an aircraft dispatcher and air traffic controller, both play integral role in a successful flight. At Sheffield School of Aeronautics, we train individuals and help them earn their aircraft dispatcher certificate. Established in 1948, we are the world’s oldest aircraft dispatcher school. If you are interested in learning more, contact us today and take the first step to your new career as an aircraft dispatcher!

Additional Reading

How Air Traffic Control Systems Work

Sources

  1. Federal Aviation
    Administration (FAA) – Aviation Careers – Air Traffic
    Control Specialists
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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
    “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
    “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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    “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 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
    “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
    “If you want to be the best, first you need to be trained by the best!” P. Hill P.Hill – DHL
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    “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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