Flight/Ground Ops, Crewing and DispatchA forum for the people who are engaged in operational control/flight dispatch/crewing and their colleagues airside in ramp dispatch, load control and ground handling, to discuss issues directly related to keeping their aircrew and aircraft operational.
I have recentley applied to become a dispatcher over the summer with Servisair, having worked with them before but only on the ramp, loading and unloading aircraft as well as working in the baggage halls.
I was wondering if anybody could give me a heads up on key points I should focus on i.e. what IT programs are used etc, and issues regarding weight and balance, loadsheets etc.
Now I have a roundabout idea of what a dispatcher does, having worked with a few, however I have no true idea of everything that they do, i.e. fueling and catering. So if anybody does/has worked for Servisair as a dispatcher, could you give me an idea of the process of dispatching an aircraft.
A Dispatcher for Servisair, is likely to be a co-ordination role. Basically while your aircraft is on the ground, its your responsibility to ensure that everything it needs is where it should be. THings like wheelchairs, de-icing rigs, all need pre-ordering. If you are coaching the pasengers out to the aircraft, thats your call again.
Then you are a also a go-between. Anything that happens between aircraft and ground is likely to go through you. If the crew need catering, you have to get it sorted out. If the captain wants extra fuel, you sort it out. When the crew are ready for boarding its your call. When the pax show up late, you decide when they go on. If the Captain wants weather, or a new flight plan, you're going to have to get it... or get someone else to get it. You are also the go-between for the airline. If the flight takes a delay, you need to explain it, and find the cause.
Then comes the daunting bit. You are also loadmaster to some extent. Although most airlines have standard policies, you are responsible for seeing them carried out. You are the one who has to account for every piece of baggage and every passenger. Its up to you to ensure the manifest is 100% accurate and that nothing is in that hold that shouldn't be, and that nothing is anywhere in the hold that it shouldn't be. If theres a load of firearms on board, its up to you to make sure all the paperwork is accurate. I'm not sure if servisair dispatchers compile the loadsheets, but if so, you will also be needed to understand and calculate the various weights and balances to ensure that the aircraft is safe to takeoff and land, and also to work out how much the aircraft is over/underloaded.
I hope that helps, and isnt too daunting. Dispatchers take a lot of the flack when things go wrong, but I would say are some of the most job happy people I have ever worked with.
Basically be prepared to use words like "co-ordination", "timekeeping", "working under pressure", "responsibility" and "security" in the interview, and remember that at times you are going to face some pressure and some stick. So being thickskinned helps. Standing up to a flight crew to tell them they need to take a delay while you re-load an aircraft, or telling them that you are recording the 25minute delay to them takes some doing.
Is there anyone that has done both Dispatch and Load control and which would you prefer? After being a Load Control where the paperwork has been completed by myself, i don't think i could go about using central load control. I could imagine that not having to complete the loadsheet yourself could make life easier for the Dispatcher.
I would say you couldn't be a good load controller without having been a dispatcher first - how on earth can you plan the loading of an aircraft properly if you don't have an idea of the sizes of holds of various aircraft, or where the hold doors are, or which hold positions can be used for different bins or pallets. You need the knowledge of the ramp and loading procedures to be able to load plan an aircraft so that it both trims well and can be loaded easily by the loaders.
Having worked both as a load control trained dispatcher and with a CLC system I can say I absolutely hate CLC. I would much rather have full control and responsibility for my own load planning and loadsheets. A system of CLC falls down particularly when last minute changes to loading are required, as believe it or not it takes longer to communicate with CLC and await their instructions than it would for me to work out and implement the necessary changes myself.
Servisair have a CLC based in Manchester, as do Swissport, although I don't know if all stations use them or if some still do their Load Control locally.
Most handling agents and more and more airlines are moving towards CLC and the dreaded "standard loading instructions" because it is cheaper and means they can reduce the amount of training required for new dispatchers, and get away with paying them less... Reading other sections of this forum, I am shocked to see how little some handling agents are paying their dispatchers/TCO's these days, especially when you consider the responsibility the position carries!
I myself was not a Dispatcher before becoming a Load Controller but i did spend time as a Check-In agent before hand. I am currently only required to be Licenced for Bulk load aircraft only as we don't handle any wide bodied aircraft.
Is a Dispatcher required to obtain a license same as Dispatcher or will they only require Tripple A training.
I have observed on many occasion the downfall of CLC and frustrations not only by the flight deck, but the dispatcher and baggage handlers who have to alter loads on several occasions.
I prefer that i am Load Controller trained and don't think i could go to being a Dispatcher. On the plus side at least the Captains would have to do their own manual loadsheets.
Generally a dispatcher (or TCO) should be trained in the following areas, although different handling agents and stations will have their own training programmes depending on customer and airport requirements.
Airside Driving Permit Airbridge Licence Triple AAA Dangerous Goods Fire Training Ramp Safety Manual Weight and Balance GESAT (airport security training)
Unfortunately full computerised weight and balance training is no longer deemed necessary if loadsheets are produced by a CLC - the dispatcher simply has to check the loadsheet sent to them by CLC and hand it over, rather than actually produce the load plan and loadsheet themselves.
The extent of Manual W&B training given will depend on local requirements. Some airlines (for example most Middle East/US carriers) require dispatchers to be formally licenced in order to do a manual loadsheet, other airlines expect the flight deck to do their own manual loadsheets, and some expect the dispatcher to do a manual loadsheet if the need arises (eg system failure).
Lo-co's have reduced the need for weight and balance training to an absolute minimum by introducing standard loading rules and free seating. An easyJet TCO just fills in a simple loadchit with the passenger and bag figures, which the flight deck input into their laptop to calculate trim settings, ZFW etc. Ryanair also use an incredibly basic form of loadsheet. This enables handling agents to cut costs by reducing training and paying lower wages, but the downside is that IMHO these new lo-co style TCO's do not have the depth of knowledge that a fully load control trained dispatcher would have. They simply hand over a piece of paper to the flight deck...
It's still a great job, even if it is gradually being eroded... rumour has it Swissport are getting rid of dispatchers altogether for some contracts!
I used to work as a flight dispatcher (turnaround co-ordinator), and in my opinion its the best job on the ground. Agree with all the training/need to know points stated above. A good dispatcher is one that is always thinking 5 minutes ahead. One other thing is be polite to everyone you deal with - not just pilots and c/crew but ramp staff, gate staff, refuellers, catering etc..., you will deal with them on a daily basis! If the pilot is having a whinge about something during the turnaround, make sure he/she is aware you are doing everything to resolve the matter. Be professional and polite (and safe). If the airline customer sees this you will get a good reputation amongst based crews.
Another tip is remain visible to the aircrew during the turnaround. I have seen dispatchers up at gates for most of the turnaround or spending ages in the office collecting paprework. I always thought it to be 'bad form' if the crew called up on frequency asking where the dispatcher was.
I do agree that ground handling companies should spend more time on dispatch/mass and balance training. I kid you not, there was one 'dispatcher' in our company who did not know the difference between an A319 and a B737(handed an A319 loading form to a B737 crew). He was a nice enough guy, who got very well with the female c/crew, and claimed he was not a 'plane spotter'!!
Sorry manual braking, but you were NOT working as a flight dispatcher. It's already confusing enough that you guys call yourself also dispatchers but please don't mix up flight dispatch and ground dispatch. That's not about rating the jobs but to tell them apart. Happy dispatching everybody!
do not confuse the term flight dispatcher to ground controllers or ramp agents....
flight dispatchers are in airlines ops centre handling all the flight planning information or paper-work issues for flight crews. They are either trained or licnesed and have a certain amount of responsibility for the desired flight (differ in countries).
Have to agree with you both. In the UK, ground handling companies refer to this position of employment as a 'flight dispatcher'. I am aware of the job that a flight dispatcher does on the continent - it is completely different! Since the initial post was refering to a position in the UK with a ground handler, I used the term dispatcher (turnaround co-ordinator) as this is what he will be referred as.
Think this topic about the terminology/job description has been flogged to death elsewhere on this forum.
(who enjoyed his time on the ground as a flight dispatcher/turnaround co-ordinator/ramp monkey/one-armed paper hanger/bingo-card holder (delete as appropriate))
Dispatch in the UK on the whole is a pretty cool job. Although I've not worked for Servisair, I've worked very close to them for a good few years.
Servisair dispatchers do not produce their own loadsheets. They are either produced locally or at a CLC centre. When this works well its a perfectly good system. However in my opinion it is far too open to errors. One of the airlines my company handles (a UK, full service major) uses CLC and on the whole they're very efficient and get the job done properly. However if they take their eye off the ball for a minute it can go tits up - I've had quite a few incidences of loaders having to reload the a/c after it was out of trim. I've also had the aircraft sat at the end of the runway with CLC on the phone to me and me on the radio to the crew (I was covering ops at the time), asking them to change where the pax were seating. This was all because CLC saw the a/c was out of trim after it had pushed back. If I'd have been doing the loadsheet locally, the trim would have been sorted out in the gate with far less time taken.
Depending on where and when you decide to work, the level of work can vary hugely. There can be hours on end where you have nothing to do, or you can have 4 or 5 aircraft waiting for you to get to them. This results in ped off crew shouting at you, ped off passengers shouting at you because they haven't been able to board (boarding is your job as well... all the pax service agents are 'ill' today), and at the end of it all you have to tell ops/the airline why their flight pushed late; 'Aircraft movements' is a personal favourite. Not that we ever lie. Ever...
But it is a good fun job. I wouldn't go into it thinking thats what you'll spend the rest of your life doing; the pay is shocking and the conditions are enough to wear anyone down. But for a summer (or six summers in my case), its a brilliant experience.
For interviews - yup as mentioned above: Safety, security, dealing with pressure, passenger service (), critical thinking, prioritising etc etc.
Servisair generally use CODECO (I think) and a variety of other airline specific systems - FlyBE Shares for example.
Due to CLC of a well known british carier i have seen it take up to 2 hours for a loadsheet positioning aircraft back to their hub after diverts.
Theres nothing worse than having to wait for a loadsheet from CLC and having the captain shouting at you for something thats beyond your control.
I would say Dispatcher/Load Controller is a very fun job on the whole, especially meeting new crew all the time and seeing some familiar ones too, also time goes quicker working with new challenges arising at any moment.
I much prefer the role of a Dispatcher/Load Controller to a check-in agent or baggage handler especially now the lo-costs are charging more and more and clamping down which is causing a lot of arguments at either the check-in or at the gate.
Have to agree, one of the best ground jobs around, especially when things are going right but then where is the fun in that? If everything was going to plan and running itself, anyone could be a good dispatcher/co-ordinator. When things start to go wrong, that's what sorts the good from the not so good. Always be 5/10minutes ahead of yourself, keep the crew informed your fellow staff,
Being thick skinned helps. Accept that everyone has their own job to do, and that you will take some stick because you're not always making it easy for them. It's not a nursery school, it's serious business with big responsibilities. Try not to take it personally, you are on the front line, the figurehead left to explain all the problems and take the flak for it. It's not your personal fault that you're stuck with broken equipment, lack of staff, inadequate airport facilities... but you have to manage as best you can and explain to the crew that's why the flight is delayed.
You will met some wonderful people, some interesting characters and some arrogant obnoxious pr*cks, that's life, but for every one of those there are 10 great folk around.
Depending on the individual, shift work can be a gift. I can do 40 hours in shift work a week and have much more free and usable time than doing the M-F 9-5 thing. Rarely do I ever get caught in rush hour going to/from work.
Lots of fun and great experience. Jump at it if you get it. Let us know how you get on.
I think some Dispatchers, and presumably ALL Ops/load Controllers would require a degree of R/T training for ground to air communication.
Certainly I have seen instances where the flight deck radio ahead, to advise handling agents of any special assistance required, pass fuel figures, give estimated times of arrival etc. Especially if the airline has a very tight turnaround time (a la Ryanair). Having fuel figures in advance is a HUGE bonus in tight turnarounds.
I'd like to apply for a dispatch position at my local airport after I finish my fATPL training.
Was just curious as to whether or not I should mention that I am an aspiring pilot, with them knowing very well that I will jump ship at the first opportunity (which to be fair, could be a couple of years!).
For FAA License u will have to go to USA , Do a one week refresher course and take the exam again , shuould not be a problem , would not be much different than the exam you would take , . well for dgca , same thing , u will need to sit the exam to convert your examinations.
if you can pass one exam you can pass all , its not rocket science , if your conecpts are clear you will be fine , no matter where u are taking the test , so be very attentive during the course , know this disptach thing inside-out!
Dear Sir , I am From Jordan I have made Flight dispatcher Course in Jats -Jordan and grant the CAA Licnc Will my Licnc be valid in USA 2nd I am Load master C130 experience for 15years .Also holding A&p Licnc Loading agent ,Having courses as Loadcontrol for Aircraft Types A-320 -330- 340 -B767
Kindly advice if i can have chance to work with companys using c-130 as load master - Flight dispatcher in Saudia -Abu Dhabi
Last edited by Abdel Elah Hamad; 12th Apr 2009 at 08:00.