A flight dispatcher develops the flight plan for every aircraft route. Working together with the captain/pilot in charge, the flight dispatcher’s job is to get the aircraft to its destination safely at the scheduled time, and at the lowest reasonable operating cost.
This is no easy task. Factors such as weather conditions along the flight path, wind direction/velocity, and the altitude chosen all affect the air speed and fuel consumption of an aircraft on its way from Point A to Point B. To add to the challenge, each model of aircraft has its own specific speed and fuel consumption characteristics. No one size fits all.
The flight dispatcher has to know all of this, plus consider the aircraft’s maintenance history; and their weight, payload capacity, and fuel load as they craft the most optimal flight plan.
Flight dispatchers must take into account the navigation aids available to pilots both onboard the aircraft and on the ground along the route, and weather conditions at the flight’s destination. Since weather patterns and wind direction/velocity speed can change between the time that the flight plan was drawn up and when the aircraft takes off, coming up with an optimal flight plan isn’t easy.
All of these elements explain why flight dispatching is a challenging job. Without the flight dispatcher’s approving signature on the flight plan, an aircraft would not be allowed to take off.
To succeed as a flight dispatcher, a candidate needs to have a calm nature and self-control in all situations, excellent communication skills, and pay consistent attention to detail – because lives depend on the quality of their flight plans.
How to Learn
To become eligible to be a flight dispatcher, candidates be at least 21 years old, fluent in either English or French, and have passed the Transport Canada Flight Dispatch written exam (FDDOPS and FDMET).
A range of flight schools, community colleges and private colleges offer courses to prepare candidates for the Transport Canada Flight Dispatch Written exam.
Be sure to check the school’s credentials and the success rate of its students in passing the Transport Canada exam. Just because a school may offer a low-cost, short-term preparation course does not mean that this course will lead to success. (In some instances, flight dispatch may be part of a two-year community college diploma that encompasses many aspects of airline operation.)
Once a candidate has passed the Transport Canada exam, they will need to apply to airlines big and small to be hired, and then be trained further on-the-job.
With the Baby Boomers retiring and airlines expanding, the prospects for getting a job as a flight dispatcher are good and improving with time.
The average annual salary for a Canadian flight dispatcher is $49,231, with a lower range of $35,000 and an upper range of $57,000.
Because there is such a range of exam preparation options, candidates would be wise to shop around to find pricing options. Government student loans may be available for students taking courses at community college.
Need More Information?
To find Transport Canada Flight Dispatch written exam preparation schools in your area, do simple a Google search. You can also call local flying schools to see if they have courses, and check with local community colleges.
To apply for flight dispatcher jobs after passing the exam, check with air carriers in your area. Also check the following websites: