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The Flight Dispatcher Career Q&A

Become a GCAA – licensed flight dispatcher in as early as 7 months

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What do Flight Dispatchers do?

Two people are responsible for the operation and safety of every airline flight. The Dispatcher is one of them!

Onboard the aircraft, the Captain is in charge. On the ground, it’s the Dispatcher.

As a Flight Dispatcher, you will be involved with the flight from before it boards until after it has landed.

You will prepare and manage flight plans, check weather forecasts, calculate the quantity of fuel required, assess the aircraft’s technical condition, evaluate the weight and balance of the cargo on the plane, obtain the necessary flight permits and permissions, plan any requirements for pilots and flight attendants, and much more.

It’s a responsible role. Safety is the priority, and the Dispatcher has the authority to change, delay, cancel or divert a flight.

Interested in this fast-moving, challenging and rewarding career?

Since Flight Dispatchers work behind the scenes, most people may not be familiar with what they do. They’ll have seen ground crew at the airport managing fuel and luggage, pilots in the cockpit, flight attendants in the cabin; but the typical airline passenger may never see a Flight Dispatcher.That doesn’t mean that their work is unimportant – far from it!It’s the duty of a Dispatcher to make sure the flig­ht journey is safe and the pilot has the best possible route to reach the destination. Weather patterns and changes, flight planning, safety guidelines, airspace restrictions and airport conditions are all planned and monitored by Flight Dispatchers. Every airline flight you’ve ever taken was managed, organized and kept safe by a Flight Dispatcher!

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What is the procedure to dispatch a flight?

Before every aircraft flight, whether it is scheduled, unscheduled or military, the details of the flight are sent to a Dispatcher.These details include the departure and arrival destinations, the number of passengers and weight of cargo, the type of aircraft that will be used and its documentation – things such as insurance and noise certificates, air operator certificate, and ops specifications. The Dispatcher checks notices to airmen (NOTAMS), landing weight, maximum allowable landing and takeoff weight. They may also be responsible for verifying the flight crew has the appropriate qualifications, crew rest and scheduling to accommodate the flight.Once the Dispatcher has all the details and ensures all the legal documentation is in order, they create a flight plan for that flight. This involves planning the route the aircraft will take to reach its destination, including fuel stops and deviations due to weather.
The Dispatcher may be responsible for requesting permission or permits for the airspaces the route crosses. Permits for takeoff and landing will also be prearranged by the Dispatcher.A few hours before the flight, the Dispatcher provides the finalized brief to the pilots, who begin their preparations.If there is a change in schedule, weather or airspace requirements before the flight, the Flight Dispatcher incorporates the required legal and technical changes in the flight plan and forwards the revised plan to the captain.Dispatchers may continue to support the flight after takeoff, monitoring conditions en route to notify the captain of any changes due to weather or airspace restrictions and provide the flight crew with an alternate flight plan as necessary. Until the flight lands safely, the Dispatcher actively follows the flight path to keep everyone safe.The Dispatcher holds the responsibility to delay, cancel, change or divert a flight if necessary.The flight crew and passengers depend on the Dispatcher’s skills and judgment to ensure the safety of the flight.

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What are the benefits of being a flight dispatcher?

The benefits of being a flight dispatcher vary from company to company, but often include paid vacation, insurance, travel and stay discounts, and retirement plans. Some companies may also offer cockpit jump seat access or stock options.A dispatcher can expect to have a stable job, good pay, and benefits. Dispatchers often enjoy good working conditions and a sense of importance in the workplace.Flight dispatchers also often receive travel and stay discounts.

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What are the advancement opportunities for a Flight Dispatcher?

Like any other profession, the career path of a Dispatcher depends on the company and individual. Many Flight Dispatchers have used their skills, experiences and professional expertise to successfully move on to other roles, such as:
Flight Dispatcher instructor
Flight operations manager
Chief Dispatcher
Dispatch department manager
Director of operations
Freelance consultant
Management positions in the airlines
Government positions
Civil aviation authority positions

Success in this field depends a great deal on the individual’s skills and initiative, but experience as a Flight Dispatcher is an excellent foundation for future success.