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.infographic of the difference between an aircraft dispatcher and an air traffic controller

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 aircraft 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!

Sources

  1. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – Aviation Careers – Air Traffic Control Specialists

 

Related Readings:

Aircraft Dispatcher Course – 5 Week Course

Aircraft Dispatcher Salary

The Eligibility Requirements for an FAA Flight Dispatcher Course

Getting Your Aircraft Dispatcher Certification Online

 

Infographic added on August 10, 2020.

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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.
    “Being that half my new hire class dropped out over the course of training, I can confidently say that Sheffield helped to prepare me for the real world.” GT – abridged testimonial – school selection matters
    “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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    “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
    “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
    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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    “now that I’ve been in an indoctrination class with students from other schools, I know I made the right choice with Sheffield.”   Kindest regards,  A.R.  All schools are created equal?! yeah…sure ;)
    “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
    “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
    “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
    “As a graduate of the aircraft dispatcher program at the Sheffield School of Aeronautics…My training was intense and thorough and furnished me with the requisite skills for performing my current job as a Flight Dispatch Supervisor.” N.S. Sidebar NS
    “This was an amazing class! Always interesting! It was like drinking from a fire hose, but I have never enjoyed a course more than this one. Thank you for a great 5 weeks & EWINS!” R.S. R.S. Testimonial – 5-weeks & EWINS
    “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
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