The Responsibilities of Aircraft Dispatchers
There are many roles that an aircraft dispatcher is responsible for. It is the role of an aircraft dispatcher to make sure that the aircraft and the passengers that it’s carrying arrive at the destination safely. The aircraft dispatcher works along with the pilot to regulate a flight schedule that’s supposed to result in maximum payload and minimum cost of operation. The aircraft dispatcher works behind the scenes at an airport and schedules routes, calculates costs, considers the weather, and follows the flight’s schedule.
Once the pilot and the aircraft dispatcher sign all the necessary paperwork, the aircraft dispatcher can release an aircraft for takeoff. After the aircraft dispatcher has released the plane, it’s their duty to pay attention to the flights that are already in the air. Factors such as wind, altitude, route, and fuel levels must be monitored constantly by the aircraft dispatcher throughout the plane’s course. The aircraft dispatcher is required to act somewhat as the middle man between the pilot and the aircraft personnel on the ground. It’s their responsibility to keep these people continually updated on the status of the flight.
While most of the aircraft dispatcher’s jobs are carried out in an office that’s located within an airport, sometimes they’ll ride in the cockpit of the airplane alongside the pilot if the routes and conditions must be closely monitored, if the pilot needs a second set of eyes. Federal aviation regulations require aircraft dispatchers to ride at least five hours per year, that way they stay familiar with flight equipment and procedures that they learned in aircraft dispatcher school. Since technology is always changing, these refresher hours are important for practicing and keeping up to date.
For the most part, an aircraft dispatcher will carry out their tasks in a highly technical office or control center with radar and advanced computer equipment that gives live, up-to-the-minute reports on flight statuses. The job requires the use of tools like calculators and weather charts, along with a computer.
The duties of an aircraft dispatcher vary, depending on the size of the airline company for which they work. Larger airlines usually have more employees to take on more specific tasks so that the dispatcher’s job is more straightforward. It usually involves making sure that the flight schedule is planned and followed. Smaller airlines require the dispatchers to take on many roles, often including meteorology.
You don’t need a college degree to become an aircraft dispatcher, although many in the field hold a degree in air transportation or a related study. To be successful you must be able to maintain a cool and calm composure in highly stressful situations. You must also be detail-oriented, conscientious, and possess the ability to make sound decisions on the fly. Work weeks generally last 40 hours, which does not include standby for emergency situations.