Finally. I think that’s how I should describe posting of this article. Since the very beginning of my aviation journey, Flight Dispatcher was something special for me. When I saw anything about their work on the internet I instantly had thoughts “wow, that looks like super exciting work. These guys must be soo smart… I would love to try it one day even though it looks like something inaccessible for me.” You probably recognize this kind of approach for things that will require some “mental efforts”. People like to choose the easier way. Life is giving us other (painless) possibilities and we just follow. At the same time giving up things that attract us more. I don’t want to say that I never did something that required sacrifice, study, or self-denial. But maybe at some point, we just chose a different more reasonable path and ignore deeper desires…
Aviation is going through the toughest crisis in its history. Many people lost their jobs and the others are thinking about changing them for something more stable. I deeply believe flying for a large scale will come back soon. Probably in a different form, with different rules but it will come back. I’ve decided to use this temporary standstill to confront my beliefs about the Flight Dispatcher profession with reality. I have to experience personally whether it’s just an illusion that Flight Dispatcher can be such a cool job or not really. In the series of upcoming articles, I will try to break down into prime factors:
- what exactly Flight Dispatcher is doing?
- what kind of knowledge he should possess?
- how to become one of them?
Who the hell is that Flight Dispatcher?
To find it out we have to go back to the roots. Like with everything, at the beginning there was just CHAOS. Pilots loading the mail, cargo, and passengers by themselves. Taking off without any specific flight plan. Having just the compass in their hands! No weather information. No emergency plans in case of any unknown circumstances up in the air. These guys just had to be brave and a bit insane. But it was not meant to work too long. Series of fatal accidents have contributed to the development of this highly falter system. Apart from the evolution of navigational aids, aircraft equipment, etc. someone smart found out that airlines need to be better-structured and pilots need some additional support from the ground. That is how in 1938 in the USA, new airman certification was created – The Aircraft Dispatcher was from now on the official profession.
Different names, same function
Since 1938 many things have changed. Evolution of all kinds of aviation regulations, aircraft development, and all these things that had a great influence on aviation safety. Many countries evaluated the initial concept and adapted it to their needs. Among other things, that is why we can find the same profession under different names like Flight Operations Officer (FOO), Aircraft Dispatcher (AD), or this one which I use Flight Dispatcher(FC). However, the significance of this role in Airline structures was never been called into question.
Flight Dispatcher responsibilities
Who in this matter can say more than the person who has been doing this job for years? I’ve contacted Karin Thormählen- Flight Operations Officer and Instructor in Lufthansa Group, at the same time Board Member of German Flight Service Consultants Association. That’s how she characterized the responsibilities of FD:
“Flight Dispatchers create and calculate the optimal flight path for the respective flight day and time and register it with the authorities. Optimal is a broad term here: it is about weather, costs, weight, type of aircraft, overflight rights, times of day, crew flight times, technical restrictions on the aircraft, restrictions in the airspace on the way and/or at the destination airport …What might be the optimum at noon today might not even be possible in the evening.”
About daily routines:
“you check the rough situation: is there any weather on the way (a storm, a hurricane …) is there any crisis area where you don’t fly, what kind of flights are to be expected in my shift (I make a schedule so that I can have everything ready in time) are the planes all technically ok or do I have to pay attention to special features … and then you start.
Then there’s the pure flight planning, for short-haul flights also the slot positions, which are more about smooth and punctual departure planning, and there’s the “Mission Support” area, where aircraft already in the air get all the support they need. New recommendations, weather warnings, new NOTAMS concerning your flight, in-flight recalculations … this can be very diverse.”
Flight Dispatcher plays a critical role in assuring the safety of commercial aviation. He supports the pilot in the preparation and during the flight. He plans the route, calculates a lot of things…informs the crew about any significant information or changes. At the same time, he keeps an eye on all costs, weather situation, and flight legality. He is a multitasking, universal, super trained Airman, who usually do all these things above with pleasure.
Ready for more?
If you feel exactly how this man on the video. Don’t worry. More or less I am in the same place. Step by step we will go through all the important aspects of this profession. I will share with you all the encountered difficulties and hopefully effective ways to overcome them. After all, if the situation allows me, I will decide if I go for it or not. Maybe the balloon that I was inflating for many years will just burst or I’ll grab it and fly to an exciting place. We’ll see. Does this article help you to define your goals? What are your thoughts about FD? I would love to see your feedback below. I hope that the series of these articles will result in the creation of a kind of supportive community. The next one will be about how to become one of them…
Links that helped me in creating this content: