Who is an Aircraft Dispatcher?
Aircraft Dispatchers are highly trained individuals who hold a valid FAA Aircraft Dispatcher certificate. They are employed by individual airlines and work in the airline's operational control center, sometimes known as System Operations Control Centers, Flight Control, Flight Dispatch or just Dispatch. Dispatchers control and coordinate all functions of the airline. Dispatch serves as the airline's "Mission Control". The dispatch office is the airline's nerve center.
All major decisions concerning the airline's operation are made, whether it be regional or global in scope. FAA licensed Aircraft Dispatchers work in these centers. Aircraft Dispatchers are "not" Air Traffic Controllers. Air Traffic Controllers work for the FAA, and separate air traffic. Think of Air Traffic Controllers as "traffic cops".
Aircraft Dispatchers are the ground equivalent to the Airline Captain. Captain and Dispatcher exercise joint decision making and shared authority during the airline flight operation. The FAA believes in the "two heads are better than one" concept. In order to exercise this shared decision making, the Dispatcher must be equally knowledgeable as the Captain in aviation and aeronautics. The FAA Aircraft Dispatcher license (held by the Airline Dispatcher) is required to do the job. Sky Aviation Academy offers a Five (5) Week FAA Aircraft Dispatcher Certificate Course. This is the shortest approved program in the country.
Where do Aircraft Dispatchers work?
Aircraft Dispatchers work in the airline's System Operations Control Center. Most S.O.C. Centers are operational on a 24 hour around-the-clock basis. Aircraft Dispatchers are employed by an airline and work in the Operational Control Centers. Dispatchers manage the daily operation of the airline. Some airlines have flights operations on a global scale, with hundreds of aircraft, and thousands of crew members. Dispatchers coordinate all functions of the airline, and have the authority to cross all organizational lines. The Operational Control Center serves as the airlines' nerve center. All decisions which affect the airline's operation are made here. Aircraft Dispatchers are responsible, in joint agreement with the Airline Captain, for flight planning, route selection, altitude selection, fuel load requirements, aircraft legality, and complying with U.S. federal aviation regulations.
FAR 121.533 states that both the Airline Captain and Dispatcher are held jointly responsible for the safety of the flight. Each are required to sign a Dispatch Release before the flight can legally depart. The "two heads are better than one" concept is employed by the U.S. government. The Aircraft Dispatcher is an integral member of the team that keeps the flight safe. All factors are given consideration when planning the flight: en-route thunderstorms, turbulence, icing, aircraft mechanical status, air traffic control delays, low level wind shear, runway conditions, nav-aid status, visibility and instrument approach legality.
The airline's Operational Control Center keeps the airline's operations running smoothly, even during periods of "Off-Schedule Operation". Aircraft Dispatcher Assistants are extensively trained by the airline's training department, then receive additional months of OJT training "on the floor", before being upgraded to full Flight Dispatcher status. The FAA mandates strict training requirements for Dispatchers, and airlines must comply.
Aircraft Dispatchers, like Air Traffic Controllers, tend to be quick minded and have the ability to make decisions. They must have the ability to remain flexible, calm, and mentally organized, even during periods of high stress, which sometimes occurs in airline flight operations. Clear thinking and the ability to prioritize and re-prioritize are the traits and talents of an excellent Aircraft Dispatcher.
Does every city/station have a Dispatcher?
No in the USA. Most airlines have a "centralized" Operational Control Center, usually located at or near the airline's main corporate headquarters. For example, American Airline's Dispatch center is located in Fort Worth, Texas, Delta Airline's is in Atlanta, Georgia, and United Airline's is in Chicago, Illinois. There are close to 200 airlines in the United States. Each airline has a Flight Dispatch Center, and employs Airline Dispatchers. Even the large freight carriers like Airborne, UPS, and FedEx operate huge Operational Control Centers. These centers are just as large and complex as the major airlines like AA and United.
What kind of money does a Dispatcher make?
Starting salaries at the major airlines begin around $ 40,000 as an Assistant Dispatcher, and lead up to top of scale "base" salaries around $100,000+. Most of the major airlines (American, United, Southwest, and Delta have similar top-end salaries. Overtime is often available, and those who work it make salaries in the $110,000 -130,000+ range.
In addition to the decent salaries that Aircraft Dispatchers earn, the other airline benefits which go along with it make this a great job.
What are some of the typical airline benefits?
Aircraft Dispatchers usually have unlimited world-wide flight privileges for themselves and their family. In addition, Dispatchers usually have unlimited Cockpit Jumpseat authority, not only on their own airline, but with hundreds of other airlines world-wide. Airlines offer 401K Savings Plans , as well as company sponsored Retirement Pension Plans. Managed Care Health Plans and Life insurance are usually available to the employee. U.S. airlines offer some of the best employee benefits packages around.
Can a Dispatcher ride in the cockpit Jumpseat?
Yes. Federal Aviation Regulations part 121 dictates that Aircraft Dispatchers must ride in the cockpit Jumpseat on "familiarization flights" for a minimum of 5 hours each calendar year. However, most airlines treat Dispatchers like Pilot Cockpit crewmembers, and extend them this excellent privilege on an unlimited basis. Also, hundreds of other airlines around the world recognize the significance of the Aircraft Dispatcher, and extend the cockpit Jumpseat authority freely to them. This is one of the greatest benefits available for Dispatchers.
Do you have an ETOPS course available?
Sky Aviation Academy’s ETOPS course tuition is included in our training programs. To be more specific, any student who attends any of our FAA Aircraft Dispatcher training programs is automatically enrolled in our ETOPS course. This course is run separately, after graduation from our regular Dispatcher license courses. We do not charge tuition for this course. All of our students can attend the ETOPS program, after they graduate, once they pass their FAA Oral/Practical exams and hold their FAA Dispatcher ticket! The ETOPS program is a complete, comprehensive course, delivered a via Computer-based training (CBT) module, which includes hyperlinks to real-time internet sites. Upon completion of the CBT course, student's receive a certificate of completion for the ETOPS program.
Some of the other schools make you pay several hundred dollars for this course. We do not believe this course should be an "add-on" to make money. We include it in our regular Aircraft Dispatcher program because we feel that each of our graduating students deserves to have this opportunity and qualification on their resumes.
What separates SAA from other Aircraft Dispatcher schools?
What separates our Sky Aviation Academy from many other schools is the fact that we are passionate in what we do, and the fact that most of our instructors are highly experienced Airline Dispatchers, with heavy experience at the major airline levels.
SAA utilizes FULL-TIME instructors. Our staff members are all highly energetic and caring. We love our jobs, our school, and it shows. We focus on the needs of our students and graduates. We succeed because we have the habit of going the extra mile.
We strongly believe in the principal "Success through a Positive Mental Attitude." Early on, we made the decision and set our long-term goal to become the industry leader in this business. With a lot of persistence and positive attitudes, we've reached our dream. We've discovered that the formula for success is simple - Put ourselves in our student's place, see and feel what they're feeling. Then, help them get to where they're going. Just ask any of our successful graduates.
Our staff members instill in each of our students a burning desire to achieve their airline career goals. Relentless persistence is another one of the formulas for success.
Making it a success in the airline industry goes far beyond just training for your FAA Aircraft Dispatcher license. It's our job to help each of our students grow emotionally and mentally during the course. It's our job to lead them and influence them in new life-changing directions.
Is the course really difficult?
Our Five-week, 200 hour FAA Aircraft Dispatcher program is extremely challenging. However, the average student with little or no aviation background will successfully complete the course, given the fact that he/she applies themselves and consistently studies the materials covered during class. This course is difficult. You will sit in class for 200 hours. During this period everything that you have to know will be thoroughly covered by our experienced team of instructors. As long as you come to class daily, and don't miss, plus study very hard each night, you should successfully pass all quizzes, final phase exams, and ultimately, the FAA Oral/Practical exam. Should you fail the FAA Oral/Practical exam the first time, you will receive additional tutoring/instruction from SAA instructors. Students may then schedule to re-sit the FAA Oral/Practical exam. There is a re-test fee of $125, payable on the day of the re-test.
After I graduate, how do I get an Airline Dispatcher interview and job?
Many times, prior to graduation, or a few days/weeks after graduating, airlines will call Sky Aviation Academy seeking our FAA certificated graduates. When this happens (and it happens quite a lot), it's easy to get interviewed. Once you graduate and have your FAA ticket, then here's what happens. You come to the SAA student resource center at the school. Here, you will find a brand new copy of the World Aviation Directory, which is a book that contains the names, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, and you name it, of each and every airline in the world. We suggest that you pick maybe 20 or 30 airlines that you feel that you would like to be employed with. Then, you write a quick letter to each airline's Personnel Office, requesting a job application. Of course, you include a self-addressed stamped envelope in the request package. You send the letter requesting the airline application, along with the self-addressed stamped envelope to the Personnel Office. In a week or two, they will send you a job application. You will neatly type and complete the application, then send it back to the airline, along with your current resume, as well as a very brief letter of introduction (cover letter). It is extremely important that you do the following: Address the application package to the Director Flight Dispatch, or Director Flight Control, or Director System Operations Control Center.
What things do I study in class?
Flight Dispatcher students study for the FAA written examination & the FAA Oral/Practical certification exam. We study things like Aviation Weather, B737-800 Aircraft Systems, Advanced Flight Planning, Federal Aviation Regulations Part 121, Pilot Reports, Notices to Airmen, High Altitude IFR En-Route Charts, IFR Approach Plates & Landing Minimums, and Captain/Dispatcher Joint Decision Making. These are just some of the exciting aviation topics studies in class!
Are there FAA exams to take after I graduate?
No, students successfully pass both the FAA Written & Oral/Practical examinations at our Flight Dispatch Training Center and receive their Dispatcher Airman Certificate. FAA does not require you to sit for re-current examinations. Any re-current examinations are "within" company and held by your future employer.
Which airlines hire Aircraft Dispatchers?
Virtually all U.S. air carriers now are required by the Federal Aviation Administration to employ FAA certificated Flight Dispatchers. Airlines around the world recognize the FAA Aircraft Dispatcher certificate as a positive asset for their operations employees. Many international airlines require their Flight Dispatch staff members to hold the FAA Dispatcher certificate.
I have a medical problem such as hearing, colorblind, etc. Is this a problem?
Many working Flight Dispatchers wear hearing aids. As long as you can hear normal with the use of a hearing aid, you can perform the duties of a Flight Dispatcher! Color blindness is not a problem either in this field. Controllable diabetes is also usually not a factor in getting hired.
Is the Dispatcher's job really stressful?
The Flight Dispatcher's "average" day is usually very routine, and un-stressful (never dull, or boring). There are a few days a month (when bad weather hits one or more of the major hubs), that things can get hectic. On these days, flights are holding, diverting to their alternates, printer tele-types are clacking, radios are noisy and cluttered with flight crews and Dispatchers conversing to each other, and telephones are ringing off the hook! On these days, things can get a bit stressful, yes. But, once a Flight Dispatcher has done the same things over and over and over, day after day, year after year, even the "bizarre" events become routine. It's kind of a weird concept, but true. The Flight Dispatcher's job can be better described as interesting and exciting. You're working in the airline's Operational Control Center. It's a challenging career! It's not for everyone. Most Dispatchers absolutely love their jobs and will be quick to tell you so. They're proud of where they work. It's an important job, and most outsiders have an admiration and respect of the position.
How long after I graduate until I can expect to get hired by an airline?
The average SAA graduate these days is getting picked up within a few days to a few weeks after graduation. In many classes, 90% or more of the students will get hired days or weeks "prior" to graduation.
How long until I receive airline benefits?
Usually, new employees receive their full airline benefits after a 6 month probation period. Health & life insurance usually kick in from the very first day.
After I get hired, then what kind of training can I expect to receive?
Once you get hired by an airline as a Flight Dispatcher, you will receive at least the following:
40 hours Basic Company Indoctrination Training
40 hours Initial Flight Dispatcher Training
Several weeks or months (sometimes over a year working for a major airline) of on-the-job training, working side by side with a highly experienced Flight Dispatcher. Remember this - Only after you have completed all FAA mandated/Company required training will you be legal to dispatch flights for the airline. The rules are strict when it comes to flight safety!
Is your school approved for U.S. Veteran's benefits?
We are in the process of receiving our approval
Can I do some pre-study prior to coming to school, to make the course easier?
Yes, definitely. The very best advise we have to give to our students is this: Get a new copy of the ASA or Gleim Airline Transport Pilot / Aircraft Dispatcher written test study guide and study it hard, prior to attending SAA's FAA Aircraft Dispatcher course. Give yourself 2 weeks to a month of concentrated home study. When you come to class, the first 2-3 weeks of the course will be less stressful! If you have access to a new copy of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), study the chapters on Navigation Systems, ATC and Airspace. If you can get your hands on a copy of FAR part 121 regulations, study Subpart T (Flight Operations) and Subpart U (Dispatch Release Rules). If you have access to a B737 Flight Operating Manual, study the Aircraft Limitations section, and all of the General Systems Overview sections. Also, studying the MEL - Minimum Equipment List & CDL - Configuration Deviation List would be helpful. But, for the average student, study the ATP/Dispatcher written test guide. Do yourself a big favor!
What can I do to make the course easier?
Pre-study the ATP/Aircraft Dispatcher written test study guide before attending the course. Also, make sure that you do not miss class (unless you're really sick). As long as you come to class every day, the course tends to be easy for the average student. Start skipping class (why the heck would you???) and things quickly become difficult. Come to class, get your FAA Dispatcher license, and get hired with an airline.
How many student are usually in the average class?
SAA may train a maximum of 25 Aircraft Dispatcher students in a class per FAA Regulations. SAA strives to maintain no more than 15 students per class to give individual attention thus maintaining a quality of Aircraft Dispatcher graduates who are eagerly sought out by Dispatch Employers. The airline industry has experienced explosive growth. Classes tend to be very full. Many times, we run two simultaneous classes. If you want to get enrolled in a course, the best bet is to enroll early. This will ensure you a positive space in the Dispatcher Course. Sometimes, if a course is full, we have no choice but to roll students over to the next available course.
How much is the 5 week Aircraft Dispatcher course?
Tuition for our course (including books, materials, FAA testing fees, and ETOPS) is $3499 U.S. dollars.
What is included in the Course Tuition?
Tuition includes classroom instruction, reference books (checked out from the SAA Library), training materials, FAA testing fees, and ETOPS International course training. It includes everything that you'll need to get through the course. Most of all, SAA's Dispatch Instructors individual attention.
Is the FAA Oral/Practical Exam difficult?
If you have attended all classes, been attentive, take notes, been a good student, and studied hard at night in your apartment, the FAA Oral/Practical certification will go very smoothly. Yes, it's a very difficult exam. Skip class, don't study at night, and you'll be sweating bullets on "check ride" day. The FAA Designated examiners are professionals, and mean business. Do yourself a favor. Be a good student and you'll absolutely love the course, and the Airline Dispatcher career. Remember, once you graduate from SAA, and begin your career in an airline dispatch office, you have responsibilities to yourself, and to the many lives of the passengers on board your flights. Study hard, come to class and be an "excellent" student & graduate. It'll pay off later out in the real airline world. Become the best of the best in class and in your dispatch office.
Do you guarantee job placement?
No. Training schools are not authorized to guarantee employment. However, our placement rate is so high, we feel confident that we can get most students placed quickly in the airline industry.
Where do I get an airline application?
In order to get an application from a specific airline, simply write away to their corporate headquarters, ask for an application, and provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your request! It's easy.
SAA Staff are in constant contact with airlines. Airlines visit our Dispatch Training Facility and interview our graduates
Where do I get airline addresses and contacts?
What's the best part of being an Aircraft Dispatcher?
Once you do the job for a few years, even the unusual and bizarre things seem routine. You know how to do the job. You know the parameters. Even though each day is different, it's ok, because you know that you can handle it. You get to know the other guys and gals that you work with (because you've worked with them all for the past decade or so). You all know each other like brothers and sisters. It's great. When all hell breaks loose, you know exactly who you're working with, and that together, you'll all make it work. It's exciting and challenging mentally. Some days are awful, but you make it though somehow. During the day, you had a lot of flights divert because of severe weather, or ATC delays. You dealt with dozens of phone calls, Captain weather briefings, broken airplanes, terrible weather, icy runways, slush corrections, turbulence, ATC re-routes, and general mess. At the end of the day, you walk out the door, and leave it all behind. No briefcase, no homework, no nothing. The end.
Do you have any graduates working for airlines as Dispatchers?
Yes, we have hundreds and hundreds of our graduates working in the U.S. and global airline industry. They're located all over the world.
What questions do I have to study in the Airline Transport Pilots/Aircraft Dispatcher study guide?
Students must study all questions in the study guide except the questions on "Rotorcraft" or "FAR 135". All other questions must be studied!
I'm a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), Commercial/Instrument rated Pilot. Can I get credit?
Yes, you typically qualify for a reduction in course length (Accelerated Course)
What do I need in order to qualify for one of your Accelerated Training programs?
Click here to go to our Accelerated Training Program qualification information.
I'm an Air Force Navigator/W.S.O. or R.I.O. Can I go straight to the major airlines?
Yes, in many instances, because of their extensive aviation background, they are hired straight into the major airline level.
What is the typical career path after graduation?
Go to work for a large regional airline for a six months to a year, keeping putting our new resumes to larger airlines, and move up the ladder. Usually, within 3-5 years, you'll be primed and ready for a major airline. If you've got prior military aviation background, it might be a lot less time to make it to the major level (like right out of school). Don't count on it. Plan on working for a large regional airline dispatch office for a year. If you get lucky, you'll get interviewed by the majors (United, American, Southwest, Delta, US Airways) right out of dispatch school. We advise all of our students/graduates to target the large regional or global cargo air carriers.
Do you have evening courses available?
Yes, we do. Call us to get our current evening class start dates.
What are the class hours during the course?
Monday - Friday, 08:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Are textbooks and material costs included in the Course Tuition?
All books and materials are included in the course tuition. Students are issued the ASA Airline Transport Pilot Written Test Study Guide. This book is kept by the student. Other reference books are checked out by each student from the SAA Library, and are returned at the completion of the course. These books include the ASA Flight Crew (FAR 121 Regulations), FAR/AIM, Aviation Weather & Aviation Weather Services, as well as the E6-B Flight Planning Computer. You keep all books/material provided to you!
Are the FAA exam fees included in the Course Tuition?
Yes, both FAA Aircraft Dispatcher Written exam and FAA Oral/Practical exam fees are included in the tuition for the Five Week FAA Aircraft Dispatcher Certification Course. Should a student fail the FAA written exam, an additional fee of $150 will due on the day of the re-test. Should a student fail the FAA Oral/Practical exam, an additional fee of $325 will be due on the day of the re-test.
How do I enroll for a course at SAA for the Aircraft Flight Dispatcher Program?
You can enroll in our school by completing the Official On-Line Student Enrollment Form, or by mailing in the SAA school application form.