S&Ds contribute to flight operations safety and reliability.
By Pro Pilot staff
Arguably, the key element in a flight department may be an aircraft, but the people supporting the flight activity are the most important element. Airplanes need pilots to operate them, and maintenance technicians to keep them ready to fly when the company needs them.
But the logistics of the operation – ie, aircraft availability, personnel scheduling, etc – require a different set of skills, and that undertaking is the job of schedulers and dispatchers (S&Ds).
Duties of S&Ds
Operating business aircraft requires logistical planning that plays a key role in safety and efficiency, so the job of S&Ds – also referred to as flight coordinators or trip specialists – is an exceptional one in any flight department, regardless of size, type of mission, or whether the operation is domestic-only or flies international.
Especially in Part 91 flight activities, S&Ds provide support in the form of diligent and personal oversight of the flight experience for the executive passengers.
S&Ds also act like an extension of the flightcrew, assisting in the flight planning process, procuring support on arrival at destination (ground services, fuel, transportation, catering, hotels, etc), and providing continued follow-up during layovers.
Beyond the title-suggested personnel and aircraft scheduling responsibilities, S&Ds have to meet unique needs and requests in order to ensure a smooth operation.
They have to keep in mind many complex variables that require special consideration, such as weather and compliance with the regulatory environment in which their aircraft are going to operate.
And when traveling abroad, S&Ds will coordinate with international service providers (ISPs) and handlers to obtain accurate and up-to-date information about visas and necessary permits.
Although S&Ds are not always required, their value far exceeds their cost as employees. No matter the structure of a flight department, they provide an additional layer of support not easily obtained by pilots. They represent a value-added component to the flight operation that should never be overlooked.
Business aircraft operators could benefit from S&Ds. A proficient S&D will make sure that all the details concerning a specific trip are considered and taken care of to enhance passenger and flightcrew experience, from basic scheduling to weather changes while the aircraft is enroute.
Attention to detail is a must-have quality. Given the necessary tools to excel at their job, S&Ds will consider aircraft type and capabilities to make travel arrangements. Circumstances such as aircraft and flightcrew schedules, planned aircraft maintenance events, and special passenger needs won’t escape an S&D eye.
Certification and training
For educational institutions, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides standards and guidelines for obtaining approval of and for operating aircraft dispatcher certification courses in Advisory Circular (AC) 65-34A, FAA-Approved Aircraft Dispatcher Certification Courses. This AC also has useful information for those seeking FAA certification as aircraft dispatchers.
Basic eligibility requirements noted in AC 65-34A to obtain an aircraft dispatcher certification include being able to read, speak, write, and understand English, and being at least 23 years of age. For a complete list of FAA-approved aircraft dispatcher certification providers, visit faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/files/2022-09/Part 65.pdf.
FlightSafety International (FSI) provides training solutions. Its aircraft dispatcher and corporate scheduler/dispatcher courses help aspirant S&Ds to prepare flight plans with full knowledge of both aircraft systems and FAA regulations, taking into account factors such as weather conditions and fuel requirements, and anticipating potential hazards.
In particular, Part 91 operators could benefit from FSI’s take on scheduling, aircraft capacity utilization, and flight operation management. More information can be accessed at flightsafety.com/business-commercial/dispatcher-scheduler/.
Resources and support
In addition to private and government-provided assistance, organizations such as the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) have created support groups for business aircraft operators. NBAA’s Schedulers & Dispatchers Committee, for instance, was founded to further the professional growth and development for, and to heighten the awareness of the contributions made by scheduling and dispatch professionals.
It provides input on issues associated with scheduling and dispatching business aircraft, as well as other subjects associated with business aviation service personnel.
In addition, the S&D Committee sponsors the annual Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference (S&DC), which creates a meeting point where attendees have the opportunity to exchange information on common solutions to problems faced by S&Ds.
They also promote education and training so individuals elevate the professionalism of their positions. To further this objective, NBAA has created the S&Ds Scholarship Fund in conjunction with several donors. Recipients of this fund are announced each year at NBAA’s S&DC. Visit nbaa.org/aircraft-operations/scheduling/ for more info.
S&Ds play an important role in the business aviation world. Their meticulous work contributes to the safety and reliability of flight ops, making sure that aircraft are available to flightcrews and company executives when needed, and that ground support and other resources are secured as needed at their destination.