The role of a dispatcher
Passengers boarding an aircraft have a lot in mind, hoping for a safe and smooth flight. They may be totally unaware of the myriad of coordinated processes going on around them to ensure the efficiency and safety of the journey. Like an orchestra conductor, the aircraft dispatcher plays the key role in harmonizing all necessary rotation procedures.
Role of the dispatcher
Airlines employ dispatchers to coordinate all aspects of aircraft turnarounds, the set of processes that occur between flights to prepare the aircraft for takeoff. Turn around time (TAT) is an important benchmark for airlines because an idle aircraft does not generate revenue. Our own analysis found that a short-haul airliner could add one flight a day if turnaround time was shortened by just eight minutes.
As airlines strive to improve their operational efficiency, safety is also a primary concern. The dispatcher monitors weather conditions, performs analysis on how the aircraft’s payload should be balanced to ensure stability and optimize aircraft performance, and calculates the amount of fuel needed for the flight.
Dispatchers must clear an aircraft for takeoff and have the authority to cancel a flight if they have safety concerns.
A day in the life of a dispatcher
One of the primary responsibilities of the dispatcher is to create a flight plan for the pilot. This includes the route, altitudes, expected weather conditions along the route, and fuel calculation based on weight and distance. Dispatchers will also advise the captain of the aircraft payload position details.
Dispatchers synchronize all ground crew activities between flights. Straightening tasks are interrelated and carefully sequenced to be as efficient as possible.
When an aircraft lands, the ground crew chocks the aircraft for stability. Passengers disembark via the jet bridge installed on the left side of the aircraft. Then, a multitude of procedures take place to prepare the aircraft for its next trip, including cabin cleaning, technical safety check, refueling, catering and baggage loading.
The dispatcher coordinates closely with the ground crew for the timely completion of all rotation duties and will modify the schedule in the event of delays. This person will oversee the completion of pre-flight safety and maintenance checks and ensure that all passengers and cargo are loaded. Finally, the dispatcher and the pilot decide when to close the boarding gate.
The Dispatcher Career Path
The qualifications required for employment as a dispatcher vary by country and airline, but generally do not require advanced degrees. For example, in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration requires dispatchers to have a high school diploma or the international equivalent. In England, most airlines require General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs), probably in English and Maths.
Some airlines may prefer applicants who have experience in other airline roles. Photo:
There are many aviation education programs around the world offering specialized training courses to prepare students for a career in flight dispatch. Certified programs provide the required number of instructional hours needed to prepare job seekers for this role. Some airlines may prefer applicants with experience in other airport roles for their knowledge of airport and flight operations.