Flight Dispatcher Career Center

Info for Airline, Aircraft, and Flight Dispatchers

Flight dispatchers, also called aircraft dispatchers and airline dispatchers, play a vital role in most large fleet operations, as well as a smaller cargo and flight training operations.

In general, flight dispatchers work closely with pilots to plan all aspects of each flight. Some of the factors a dispatcher must consider include weather (departure, en route, and destination), fuel requirements, aircraft weight & balance, airworthiness of the aircraft, compliance with regulations, alternate destinations, and route and altitude selection.

The flight dispatcher's job is to ensure that a company's aircraft take off on time (weather permitting), are fully loaded to maximize revenues, have adequate fuel, airport, navigation, and weather information on board to complete the flight as planned, burn the least amount of fuel required for the flight, and land at the destination airport on or ahead of schedule. Get info about flight dispatcher training.

Flight Dispatcher Certification

How to become an aircraft dispatcher. Flight dispatchers are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and as such, must meet certain minimum qualifications:

    • Dispatchers must be able to read, write, speak, understand, and properly enunciate the English language
    • Must be at least 23 years old
    • Must pass the FAA written knowledge test and FAA practical test
    • Good hearing and vision are required
    • Learn about flight dispatcher jobs.

Flight Dispatcher Recurrent Training

After certification, flight dispatchers must take continuing education courses and pass frequent tests on new procedures and equipment. Dispatchers are also required to ride in the cockpit jumpseat at least five hours per year as part of their recurrent training.

Flight Dispatcher Duties

Flight dispatchers share the responsibility for the safety of a given flight with the captain of the aircraft. Typically, the flight dispatcher is responsible for creating a flight plan and works with the captain directly on such issues as takeoff and landing performance, fuel load, route, altitudes, weight and balance, and weather conditions.

The flight dispatcher also "releases" a particular aircraft to make its flight, and, once airborne, monitors the progress of all his/her current flights and shares that information with other key ground personnel.

Aircraft dispatchers usually ride along in the cockpit of company-owned aircraft several times per year (the Federal Aviation Administration requires a minimum of five hours per year in the cockpit) to keep their skills sharp in relation to airline procedures, air traffic control routing, and airport environments. Read more about commercial pilot training.

If you want to become a flight dispatcher, the time to start your training is now. However, keep in mind that you must be at least 21 to take the Aircraft Dispatcher Knowledge Test (written) and you must be at least 23 to hold an FAA Aircraft Dispatcher Certificate.

Where to Find Flight Dispatcher Training

You can train to become a flight dispatcher in one of three ways:

1. Graduate from a college or vocational training school's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved flight dispatcher course.
2. Work for at least one year as an apprentice and under the direct supervision of an FAA certified flight dispatcher.
3. Work for two of the last three preceding years as an air traffic controller, either in the military or civilian sectors

Learn more about flight dispatcher certification.

Flight Dispatcher Careers

As a flight dispatcher, you can expect to work for a large airline moving passengers or cargo, for smaller regional airlines as they continue to grow, or in large flight training operation.

Working in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment, you will probably have a computer workstation specialized for the task of planning flights and following changing weather all across the world.

Expect to be indoors most of the time, although you will be interfacing with pilots in and around the airport environment, so you could be on the airport tarmac when required.

Flight Dispatcher Jobs

Can aircraft dispatchers get a good job after graduation? Dispatcher Jobs, while the job outlook for most aviation jobs over the next ten years is excellent, the outlook for flight dispatcher jobs is only "good".

This is mostly due to changes in technology that have improved productivity, especially in the areas of automating complex calculations, gathering extensive weather information, and planning flight routes, which in turn has reduced the total number of dispatchers required.

The majority of future dispatcher jobs will be created when current dispatchers leave their positions or retire. Read more about flight dispatcher salaries.

Flight Dispatcher Salary

PayScale.com reports that flight dispatchers with 1-4 years experience make between $31,000 and $46,000, and those with more than five years experience earn between $40,000 and $92,000 per year.

AvJobs.com reports that the highest-paid dispatchers can earn $110,000 per year. According to Careers.StateUniversity.com, flight dispatcher salaries vary depending on the dispatcher's experience, size of the operation, location, and size of the airport.

Starting salaries can be as low as $20,000 per year and top out at over $100,000 annually. Learn about flight dispatcher training.

Flight Dispatcher Benefits

Other flight dispatcher benefits may include health insurance, life insurance, retirement plans, and travel benefits (if airline employed) for you and your immediate family, including free or reduced airfares and discounts at major hotels. Another possible benefit of working for an airline is being able to ride in the cockpit jumpseat.

Dispatchers are required to fly in the jumpseat at least five hours per year as part of their recurrent training, but dispatchers are also allowed to fly in the jumpseat on their own airline, and most other airlines, anywhere, anytime the jumpseat is available. Get more information about flight dispatcher jobs.

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