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Even though the airlines are in business to transport people from one place to another, they could not function without the help of many people on the ground, including those who take reservations and sell tickets, as well as those who help keep the airplanes operating on schedule.
FAR 121.533 states that both the airline captain and the dispatcher are held jointly responsible for the safety of the flight. In cooperation with the pilot, the flight dispatcher furnishes a flight plan that enables the aircraft to arrive at its destination on schedule with the maximum payload and the least operating cost. The flight dispatcher considers en route and destination weather, winds aloft, alternate destinations, fuel required, altitudes, and traffic flow. The dispatcher's signature, along with that of the pilot, releases the aircraft for flight. The dispatcher maintains a constant watch on all flights dispatched, and is responsible in joint agreement with the airline captain for flight planning, route and altitude selection, fuel load requirements, aircraft legality and complyig with FAA regulations. The dispatcher is the go-between for the pilot and ground service personnel, and keeps all personnel concerned with the flight informed about its status. The dispatcher must be familiar with navigation facilities over airline routes and at airports as well as with the takeoff, cruising, and landing characteristics of all aircraft operated by the airline. The flight dispatcher also must ride periodically in the cockpit with the flight crew to observe flight routes, conditions, and airports.
Flight dispatchers frequently work under pressure in a fast-paced environment especially when flying weather is bad. They must make many rapid decisions concerning safety, flight regulations, and the economy of operations. These employees are surrounded by people, teletype machines, telephones, and intercom systems in a noisy, busy atmosphere. Those who work for a small airline, carry on the duties of a meteorologist and schedule coordinator.
Federal Aviation Regulations part 121 dictates that airline dispatchers must ride in the cockpit jumpseat on "familiarization flights" for a minimum of 5 hours each calender year. However, most airlines treat dispatchers like pilot cockpit crewmembers, and extend them this excellent priviledge on an unlimited basis. Also, hundreds of other airlines around the world recognize the significance of the airline dispatcher, and extend the cockpit jumpseat authority freely to them. This is one of the greatest benifits available for dispatchers.
Flight dispatchers must be able to work rotating shifts including days, nights, weekends and holidays.
Typical Requirements and/or Experience
FAR Part 65.53 Eligibility requirements: General. (a) To be eligible to take the aircraft dispatcher knowledge test, a person must be at least 21 years of age. (b) To be eligible for an aircraft dispatcher certificate, a person must-- (1) Be at least 23 years of age; (2) Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language; (3) Pass the required knowledge test prescribed by Sec. 65.55 of this part; (4) Pass the required practical test prescribed by Sec. 65.59 of this part; and (5) Comply with the requirements of Sec. 65.57 of this part. Job applicants must have good vision, hearing, enunciation and an FAA Dispatch Certificate. They must thoroughly know the Federal Aviation Regulations on airline operations and be competent in airline communications and meteorology. Experience with monitoring, analyzind and/or calculating various flight factors such as weather reports and NOTAMs, runway performance, weight and balance issues, ATC preferred routes distance and fuel needs to create and/or update flight plans.
A high school diploma or equivalent is required. Though a college degree with a major in air transportation or meteorology is useful preparation for work as a flight dispatcher, experience is equally important.
Married and unmarried men and women, with or without children are eligible. Persons who are widowed or divorced, also are eligible.
It is the policy of most aviation companies to provide equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law. Most aviation companies are strongly committed to this policy, and believe in the concept and spirit of the United States law.
Most aviation companies are committed to assuring that:
All recruiting, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, and other employment related programs are provided fairly to all persons on an equal opportunity basis without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law;
Employment decisions are based on the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action;
All personnel actions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, training, and participation in social and recreational programs are administered without regard to race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law, and;
Employees and applicants will not be subjected to harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion or discrimination because they have exercised any right protected by law.
Most aviation companies believe in and practice equal opportunity and affirmative action. All employees are responsible for supporting the concept of equal opportunity and affirmative action and assisting the company in meeting its objectives.
Most aviation companies maintain Affirmative Action Plans for minorities, women, disabled persons and veterans.
EEOC has jurisdiction of the prohibitions against employment discrimination codified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. These laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) enforce the prohibitions against federal employment discrimination codified in the CSRA. The OSC will defer those bases of discrimination under EEOC's jurisdiction to the respective federal agency and its EEO process. The CSRA also prohibits employment discrimination in the federal government based on marital status, political affiliation and conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee, none of which are within EEOC's jurisdiction. Moreover, the law defines ten other prohibited personnel practices in the federal government, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the OSC and the MSPB. See Prohibited Personnel Practices at http://www.osc.gov/ppp.htm.
Additional information may also be found on the the EEOC web site located at http://www.eeoc.gov/
Wages and Benefits
The following information is provided by Richard Wateska of Airline Flight Dispatcher Training Center. Entry level flight dispatchers earn between $42,000 - $60,000 with $110,000+ top end annual salary. Benefits of being employed with the airlines are great and include: Cockpit Jumpseat Authority (ride jumpseat on your airline, and most other airlines globally), Free or reduced rate travel priviledges (world-wide travel for you, and your family and friends), Health Insurance, Life Insurance, 50-60% discounts at most large hotel chains globally (Hilton, Hyatt, Sheraton, Marriott, Intercontintal, etc) , 401K retirement plans , Discounts at most major rental car agencies , 50-80% discount on most ship cruise lines, Hundreds of other standard airline industry travel discounts. Salaries and benefits can vary. For an updated look at salaries in the aviation industry, view the Avjobs.com Salary Report.
Where the jobs are and who hires
Flight dispatcher positions can be found with the airlines around the world. Large freight carriers like UPS, FedEx and ABX also hire dispatchers.
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You may also write to the airlines and request an application or check their web site. After completing the application, send it to the airlines Director Flight Dispatch, Director Flight Control or Director System Operations Control Center.
Opportunities for Advancement
Flight dispatchers can move into this position from jobs as dispatch clerks, junior flight dispatchers, radio operators, meteorologists, or station managers. Large airlines employ senior dispatchers who specialize in coordinating the finances of every flight. Promotion is from within. Experience as an airline dispatcher may be used in qualifying for a job as an air traffic controller with the Federal Aviation Administration or as an airport director.
Outlook for the Future
Dispatchers are such a vital part of an airline and companies are hesitant to down-size them. The introduction of low cost regional airlines is also playing a role in creating opportunities in the industry.
The FAA mandates strict training requirements for dispatchers in which the airlines must comply with.
To locate educational facilities with programs related to this position, search Avjobs Aviation School Directory. The Avjobs Aviation School Directory makes researching and finding an aviation college, university, flight school or professional training facility simple.