Unsung Heroes of the Sky – Aircraft dispatching and who to thank for a safe flight!

Aircraft dispatchers are the on-the-ground copilots you’ve never heard of or seen. Before a plane is fueled, loaded and boarded, aircraft dispatchers have already planned the entire flight down to the letter: weather, altitude, fuel and emergency operations in case of disaster. It starts in the headquarters of major airlines, miles away from any terminal. The old adage: it’s much safer to fly than to drive; well that’s in large part thanks to aircraft dispatchers.

It’s easy to get air traffic controllers and aircraft dispatchers mixed up. The misconception exists because controller and dispatcher might sound like synonyms, but they couldn’t be more different. The common idea of air traffic control is one that most likely came to your mind when you read the title of this article. Pushing Tin, Breaking Bad or even the classic film Airplane! instill the idea of smart people hunched over radar screens in cubicles talking to the drivers of the sky. Those are controllers, not dispatchers.

The dispatcher starts a typical work day surrounded by computer screens and, most likely, a large cup of coffee. Much like a scene in the Mission Control of any typical space voyage, these dispatchers, men and women of a high quality, spend their day mapping out flight paths with every possible scenario in mind. There’s a lot that goes in to planning a flight. Weather conditions determine altitude, departure times and fuel requirements. Operations at the airport of departure play a big role in taxi times and delays. There’s planning for emergencies and holding patterns; communicating with the airline, maintenance teams and the crew.

When everything is said and done, the work is sent out. Next time you’re at the terminal, zoning out or surfing the web, take a second to watch the pilot as he enters the gate. Ever see the big stack of papers a pilot picks up at the ticket stand? That’s all the work the dispatcher put in for your flight – all of which is learned at an FAA accredited aircraft dispatching school. A massive ‘Google map cheat sheet’ detailing the course of your flight. Hours of work rolled into experience and skill, to ensure the safety and comfort of your flight.

When in the air, consistent communication is maintained between the flight crew and the air traffic controller while the flight is still monitored by the aircraft dispatcher. Updates, course diversions and weather monitoring.

The type of person that takes on this sort of work is meticulous and most importantly, passionate. They leave nothing to chance, no scenario unplanned for, no proverbial stone unturned. Aircraft dispatching is not a job, it’s a calling. There are few institutions more adept at training and guiding anyone in the art of dispatch than Sheffield School of Aeronautics.

It’s easy to take for granted the magic and intricacies of our daily lives. In that vein, it’s easy to take for granted the hard work and dedication of aircraft dispatchers. They are an integral part of the flight crew, an unseen fourth seat in the cockpit, and the unsung heroes of the sky.

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  • Testimonials

    “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.
    “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
    “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
    “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
    “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
    “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
    “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
    “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
    “Sheffield School of Aeronautics is known worldwide for its quality training and has been recommended to me by our national airline Swiss International Airlines. Whenever I mention the name ‘Sheffield’ it rings a bell in people’s ears.” IW IW
    “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
    “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
    “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
    “If you want to be the best, first you need to be trained by the best!” P. Hill P.Hill – DHL
    “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
    “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
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