January 28, 2023

Nigeria Transport Hub

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FLIGHT DISPATCHER: the mirror by which the Captain sees to achieve a safe, economic flight

3 min read

A domestic airline’s Flight dispatchers’ workstation

A cursory look at the task and work schedule a Flight dispatcher is obliged as a rule to perform with precision no doubt makes a Flight dispatcher an unsung hero of the aviation world. When you board your next flight, be reminded there is more than one person directing your flight to its destination and ensuring that you get there safely and on time.

Truth be told, a flight crew cannot fly without the help of a team of people on the ground.

MULTIDISCIPLINARY TASK OF A FLIGHT DISPATCHER

Information dissemination
Air transport cannot thrive without good communication between the ground and the airplanes in the air. A flight dispatcher dedicates a large chunk of time when on a shift to communicating back and forth between several pilots on the flights they are monitoring.

Dispatchers are mandated to tell their pilots’ navigation information and relay flight plan guidelines in order to ensure safe flights.

Often times operational decisions come straight from a dispatcher who is obliged to let the pilot be acquainted with any issues likely to undermine safety, weather hazards, or changes that can come up without warning.

With the sensitive task a Flight Dispatcher is saddled with, total concentration becomes imperative throughout very long shifts with an eye on the weather and the generation of quick, concise weather analysis dispatch to the cockpit while taking cognizance of the health of the aircraft and even the vagaries of the weather itself.

Without full concentration, minor issues can become big and life-threatening problems for a flight

Trained Flight Dispatchers by Aviatrix Hub Training Institute. First left is the Accountable Manager, Mrs. Victoria Adegbe. First right; Senior Management Operation Control Centre, Arik Airline, Mr. Tawio Folarin

Weather Monitoring
For a Flight Dispatcher that knows his/her onions, the shift on most occasions begins with a thorough check of the day’s weather. While at the middle to the end of a shift, intermittent checks are conducted to ascertain if the weather has changed and promptly disseminate the same to the cockpit.

An aircraft dispatcher checks on the visibility at their departure airport as well as the conditions at the destination airport and possible alternate airports as well. Extensive knowledge of weather and forecasting is required in order to provide pilots with accurate information so that all flights make it to their destinations safely and on time.

Flight planning
A flight dispatcher assists in planning the flight paths taking into consideration the aircraft performance, loading, en route winds, thunderstorms, and turbulence, fuel planning, air traffic control considerations, safety and security considerations, routing, among others, and ultimately file the flight plan with the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA. The Flight dispatcher thereafter prepares a release and releases the flight to the Captain for a smooth and safe air voyage.

In advanced climes, however, most airports have automated flight plans systems yet, an aircraft dispatcher is still required to override certain flight plan defaults if the situation calls for it.

Albeit, the Flight dispatcher is still required to monitor all flights and suggest alternative actions, should there be a need for it.

Also, the dispatcher must be acquainted with complex computer systems that select the correct altitudes for flights according to flight calculations.

Hence the Flight dispatcher is also considered a “pilot on the ground” because more often, the dispatcher displays as much knowledge as the pilot. On some occasions, some have displayed better knowledge than the pilot.

Experienced Flight dispatchers who availed themselves of modern digital equipment come up with flight plans that are the best choice for weather conditions, mechanical issues, or other problems that may arise for proper management to achieve a safe flight.

Succinctly put, Flight plans are not always cast in stone hence, a dispatcher has the authority required to make necessary adjustments deem appropriate in his/her own estimation in accordance with the fact/information at his/her disposal.

Oftentimes, the delay experienced at the airport, the cancellation or the diversion of your flight, or the outright change of its routing are at the instance of the Flight dispatcher. Contingent on the fact before him/her and in concert with the captain, take decisions in the best interest of all the parties.

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