Time to get deeper. That’s the second from the series of posts that purpose to create some kind of compendium of knowledge about the Flight Dispatcher profession. If you are new here, I recommend starting from the previous post, where I made a kind of introduction to the subject. The one which you just started to read will be about all requirements to become a Flight Dispatcher. It’s not secret knowledge. Everything is written somewhere. Obviously, as much as the wide and far world is – the rules differ. Maybe I will not analyze every single country and its guidelines but let’s concentrate on some of the significant “players”.
FAA – United States of America
Let’s start with the oldest and in many eyes the most recognizable certification. After reading a lot of insiders’ opinions, reviewing Facebook groups, any kind of articles, forums, etc. It becomes quite clear. The Flight Dispatcher license issued by the Federal Aviation Agency in the USA is the one that is… let’s say most popular. It’s very often treated as a “master” one. The one from which all the others were learning. That of course doesn’t mean the others are bad and ugly. But. Certainly, the FAA license is the one that appears most frequently in job advert requirements. No matter on which continent you are looking for a job. Some countries/companies will accept your FAA license right away. The other half will advise you to do the (easier) license transition to follow up on local rules.
How to get the license?
To know that, we have to look into Federal Aviation Regulations. These are the rules prescribed by FAA and they play a role of guidance for all aviation activities in the United States. FAR’s are divided into parts. The one which should be interesting for future Flight Dispatcher is Part 65 called “Certification: Airman other than flight crewmember” and it’s subpart C that is dedicated to FD’s certification requirements. TO THE POINT MAAAN! Yes, I know the rules are boring. But I guess we have to stick to them as a prospect FD’s. If you did not work for Military or Airline or Air Traffic Control as a: Pilot, Flight Navigator/Engineer, Meteorologist for at least 2 from the last 3 years. You have to do the course before you can take the exams.
Where to do the Flight Dispatcher course?
The course is conducted by a certified school. You can find plenty of them scattered all over the USA. Ones with a worldwide reputation (e.g. Sheffield or Jeppesen) and others that still work for their fame. It’s tough to judge which one is the best. You would have to do a course in each of them to be able to decide. The knowledge that has to be “served” to a student is predetermined. That is why programs cannot differ (much). To hold their “teaching licenses” schools have to do their best. Some schools are helping to get a job after the course. However, in my personal opinion, if you are good you will find a job anyway. The best is to contact interesting schools. Let them introduce themselves. After that, decide which one convinces you the most. The list of all certified schools in the USA you can find here.
It varies. How? It depends if you want to do a traditional Classroom course or Online. In some schools, online and classroom times are adjustable (e.g. 50%online – 50% classroom). That kind of flexibility is good for people with limited free time or international students. It is most common to see 6-week courses. However, due to less/shorter lessons – online ones are taking a bit longer (13-17 weeks). The course must include a minimum of 200 hours. Before attending, check your schedule. Compare to schools offers. Realistically evaluate your capabilities and decide. Be aware that both options (online/classroom) require full sacrifice and some additional homework as well.
The knowledge you have to possess is described in FAR 65.55. Schools divide these requirements into modules that you have to learn, like:
- Aviation Law
- Human Factor
- Emergency Response
- Air Traffic Control
- Meteorology / Weather Analysis
- Basic Aerodynamics / Principles of Flight
- Aircraft Systems / Aircraft Performance
- Weight and Balance
- Navigation / Aviation Charts
- Flight Planning
And everything that sounds similar to the above mentioned. Depending on the school, after each module, you will possibly have to do the internal exam. Just to make sure you get it. In later posts, we will get through all these modules. I believe that writing about that stuff will significantly help us to absorb this knowledge.
Firstly, you have to pass the ADX test. What is it? It’s conducted by the FAA theory test. 80 multiple-choice questions. You need a 70% correct answers to pass it. It’s very comparable to the pilot test. Therefore expect a lot of question that has to be learned. The good news: it is doable! The bad news: The test was created many years ago and not revised for a while. Lots of these questions have nothing to do with modern days. In other words, after passing ADX you can literally forget about it. To be clear it’s not my recommendation! I am just passing advice that I’ve heard from professionals. The schools are recommending to start learning for this test before attending the course. That gives them the possibility to focus on the important for practical exams things. How to do that? there are few effective “tools” to do that: Sheffield App, Dauntless Soft, Gleim Aviation, or Sheppardair.
Secondly, you have to pass a practical test. To be allowed to do it, you have to pass ADX first. How does the practical exam look like? in simple words, you have to do the flight planning and answer a few questions. Simple huh? if that would be so simple, everyone would be Flight Dispatcher. But not all are ready for months of study about the weather, aircraft systems, aviation law, and all that stuff. Resigning from afternoon hangouts with friends because of the online lessons is also not easy. But here you are. You’ve made it! and the examiner can ask you to do the plan of the random flight from let’s say…JFK to ORD. With a given type of aircraft, weather information (TAFs, METARs, Winds, Temps, etc.), number of passengers and cargo, and most important with a given problem/scenario that you have to solve. Some items are broken on the aircraft, bad weather en route, closed alternate airports. Shit happens. Flight dispatcher has to be able to dig in that:)to have a bigger overview, I encourage you to read this thread from jetcareers forum. I know it’s quite old, but it seems that not much has changed since that time (correct me if I am wrong).
When I’ve started my research about FD in general, the most information I’ve found came from the US. This subject is highly advanced over there, it is beyond doubt. Because of the Joint Responsibility rule (FD share the same responsibility for the safety of flight as Captain), this profession is hugely respected and prestigious in the US. There is plenty of information. Plenty of schools. Plenty of airlines. Everything seems very clear. Therefore, making this license in the US is very tempting not only for US citizens but also for people from all over the world. I would love to know your thoughts about the FAA certification? Does anyone from you consider doing a course in the US? Do you have any additional questions about this post? Maybe someone already passed these exams and wants to share experiences? I would love to see your feedback!
Where you are going?! Not so fast?! There is homework to do! no worries it will be easy…please review whole FAR 65 Subpart C. Do it for your self. I know that reading regulations it’s not the most fascinating thing to do. But if you decide to do an FAA license you will have to do it anyway for the training purposes. Better sooner than later. Besides, check this thread for much more information. Ok, that’s all. Expect more soon! Next Posts -> Next countries!
Stay safe and stay tuned!