Working in aviation does not mean only the position of the pilot or flight attendant. There are many other options for those who are interested in working on the ground or in the air. One of the interesting opportunities, especially for those who can not fly for some reason, is working as a flight dispatcher.
What does flight dispatcher do?
Flight dispatcher job is often confused with air traffic controller duties. However, these are two different positions.
Flight dispatcher works on the ground. This may be the airline`s airport office or control center located in a different place. Any airline can operate without his work, no matter whether it is a commercial, private or cargo carrier.
This position involves great responsibility. Not only pilots, but also the dispatcher is responsible for the security and proper conduct of the flight. His responsibilities include planning to make smooth journey for the passengers and crew. He works in shifts, includning nights, weekends and holidays.
- planning the course of the flight, starting with the route and basic parameters, ending with obtaining the appropriate permits
- analysis and evaluation of meteorological information to select a suitable route of the flight and assess potential risks
- calculating the right amount of fuel needed to operate the flight
- preparing the flight plan – a document containing information such as weather conditions, routes, conditions at the destination airport
- intermediary between the cockpit crew and the other parts of the company, eg. those responsible for hotel reservations, giving information about the flight
- monitoring of the flight regarding weather conditions, delays or other events
How to start? Schools and courses for flight dispatcher
On the Internet you can find a wide range of courses offering training for flight dispatcher. They can be carried out by standard aviation schools, airlines or universities which specialize in aviation. Full-time course usually lasts approx. 5 weeks.
The training covers issues related to air traffic control, radio communication, basics of the construction of the aircraft, aerodynamics, procedures in emergency situations, meteorology, navigation, aviation law and practice in flight planning.
What you should consider while choosing a course:
- history of school / organization
- position on the market
- the best schools employ instructors at full-time – as a result, it is not only their additional job and staff on a daily basis has contact with the students. There is also less chance of rotating instructors during training. You should also ask stuff about their experience of working for the airlines.
- opinions about schools and courses
- cooperation with the lines and the possibility of employment
- facilities – place of training and help in finding discounted accommodation
- way of conducting classes – some of the schools carry out part of their courses online, so it saves time and money
Important: completion of the course is not the same as getting a license – some of the countries such as Poland and the USA also require this document.
Prices vary depending on the company and region. In the US, it can be assumed that the price of the course in flight school ranges from $ 5,000. More expensive courses are conducted by large airlines, but they increase the chances of employment in the company.
Emirates Aviation University (Official Emirates Airlines school): 12 000 $
Lufthansa: 22 500 Euro
FDS OPS (Poland): around 1500$
Sheffield School of Aeronautics (USA – Florida): 4900$
Jeppesen (Frankfurt, London): 4175$
Avtech 2000 (UK): 1458 pounds
- high resistance to stress and responsibility
- experience in aviation (pilot, flight controller, meteorologist) or completed flight dispatcher course
- minimum age is usually 21 (eg. Poland) or 23 years (USA)
- English at an advanced level
- secondary education
- clear criminal record
- in some countries required license
The requirements may vary depending on the employer and the place of employment.
Major airlines usually require several years of experience at the same position, so it`s easier to start a career in smaller companies.
Salaries vary depending on place, airline or experience of the candidate.
Starting career in Europe, you can achieve approx. 25 000 Euro per year. In US minimum annual rates are approx. 35 000 $. An experienced dispatcher can reach even $ 100 000/year. In Poland, initial earnings are at the low level. You must face the fact that your salary for the first two years will not exceed 3000 zł (approx. 700 Euro).
In Middle East you can count on similar wages as in US, but remember that you don`t need to pay the tax.
Do you have experience as a flight dispatcher or did you pass the right course? Please leave a comment and share your opinion, it will be useful for other readers!
Occupation of the flight attendant is usually associated with the young, looking like a model girl. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just fly several times with Lufthansa or Air France, to see that the average age of the crew is usually above 30 years. So what is the best age to start working in the clouds? Are there any preferences that guide the airlines?
Every airline has its own criteria for the candidate’s age, which are not always published. While the minimum age is usually determined by aviation law, the maximum age depends on the individual requirements of the company.
Europe: usually the minimum age is 18 years old at the time when you apply for a job. Below are examples of some of the requirements of companies:
Ryanair: minimum 18
WizzAir: minimum 18
Air Europa: 21-35
Iberia: 18-30 (candidates with no experience)
Swift Air: 18-32
EasyJet: minimum 18
Aer Lingus: 21-35
Swiss Airlines: 21-35
HiFly: minimum 18
Norwegian: minimum 18
Middle East: Minimum age is 21 years old when you become officially employed. This means that you can apply approx. 2 months before, usually airlines wait up to 6 months for candidate to reach the appropriate age. Examples of requirements:
Oman Air: 21-30
Saudia Airlines: 22-30
Flynas: minimum 21
Asian airlines have similar standards as Europe when it comes to minimum age. However, most of them employ candidates not exceeding 30 years of age. Examples:
Air Asia: 18-28
Cathay Pacific: minimum 18
Philipine Airlines: 18- 27
Korean Air: 18- 27
Private airlines: Here the situation is completely different and it is very hard to determine clearly the desired age of the candidate. Due to the fact that 99% of companies and private owners of aircraft requires a minimum of two years experience in aviation, age is not so much taken into account. CV and skills often count more than the birth date. However, each case is different. I personally met with a person who was employed at the age of 37.
Airlines typically prefer to hire young candidates for a simple reason – they will stay longer in the company. Cabin crew job unfortunately is not compatible with planning a private life. A bigger chance that younger candidates don`t dream yet about settling down and their career is more important for them. A few weeks of training are very expensive, so it is always better to keep the employee for several years.
The average age of the crew is also dictated by the attractiveness of work. Why Ryanair flight attendants usually do not exceed thirties and British Airways cabin crew is older? Because working in a low cost company is the least attractive, so logically after gaining some experience, the crew seek employment with national or other carriers. There emplyees often stay for years. Sometimes there are also cultural factors – in the Middle East or Asia, women who got married are more likely to quit their job than European and American women.
The best option is to start applying as early as possible because the market competition is high and it does not mean that you will get a job from the first time. Some companies, especially charters offer employment only for the summer season (eg. Enter Air and Small Planet in Poland), so you can gain some experience during studies.
How was in my case? I started flying about a month after I earned my master’s degree. Exactly at the night when I flew to Saudi Arabia I turned 25. Yet at the same age but a few months later I went to a private airline.
If you exceed slightly maximum age, it doesn`t mean that you can not try. Airlines often treat each case individually and sometimes change the internal regulations. It can be a good CV or a great experience, it may be the interview itself or one tiny detail that decides about positive result of the recruitment process. The most important is to try, if you are invited for the assessment day or an interview, it means that recruiters accepted your age, so half of the success is in your hands.
Year by year, flying is becoming more popular. New airlines are formed and each of them offers other conditions of employment. Recruitments to work in aviation are in high demand. For some people it`s a job only for a moment, while others want to be associated with aviation for a long time. Type of airline defines general conditions which can be expected while looking for a job.
The vast majority of cabin crew begin a career in commercial airlines. Commercial airlines are those which most of us use every day by buying a ticket for the flight without renting the whole plane.
Low cost airlines
The airlines that base their strategies on the lowest ticket prices, so focus on quantity not quality. These airlines usually have only economy class and service on board is paid, which means it`s easier because you don`t have to serve each passenger. Most of low cost companies have base in a cheaper, distant from the city center airports, so accommodation costs significantly decrease. But cutting costs means also that the work day ends up with coming back to the base because the low-costs usually do not organize layovers, so sightseeing during work is almost impossible. On the other hand, these companies have extended network of flights and attractive discounts for the crew, so you can use them in your free time. In conclusion, working for low cost airline is good for beginning to gain some experience needed for recruitment in other airlines.
Advantages: relatively easy to get a job without experience, easy service, sales commissions on board, discounts on tickets for the crew
Disadvantages: lower wages, lack of layovers
Popular low-cost airlines: Ryanair, Wizz Air, easyJet, Germanwings, Norwegian, FlyNas (Saudi Arabia), FlyDubai
These are companies which rent the planes for travel agencies or other airlines. Working in such airlines gives great sightseeing opportunities because often the crew remains in place with the aircraft or temporarily change the base. Usually is a job only for holiday season, which means it`s easy to gain experience even during studies but does not provide stable employment.
Advantages: long layovers
Disadvantages: seasonal work
Popular charter airlines: Enter Air (Poland), Small Planet Airlines (Lithuanian lines with the base also in Poland), Travel Service (Czech Republic), TUIfly (Germany), Thomas Cook Airlines (UK)
Airlines supported or owned by the government of the country.
Stable employment gives the opportunity to stay in the company for many years, offering benefits such as maternity leave, which is not standard in aviation.
Advantages: the opportunity to work in home country, stable employment, the ability to stay with the company for years, layovers, maternity leave, increased tolerance to the age of the candidate (with experience)
Disadvantages: in most cases experince required
Examples of flag carriers: PLL LOT (Poland), Lufthansa (Germany), Alitalia (Italy), Etihad Airways (United Arab Emirates), Turkish Airlines (Turkey), Oman Air (Oman), Saudi Airlines (Saudi Arabia), Qatar Airways (Qatar)
The cherry on the cake of working as cabin crew. It is practically impossible to start a career as a flight attendant starting from the private sector, because of the experience required. Private airlines can have in their fleet both large and small aircrafts carrying only a few passengers.
Private owners of aircrafts employing his crew
The job requires more commitment than employment in commercial airlines. Often cabin crew employed by a private owner is engaged in the ordering of catering, organization of purchases and even booking hotels for the crew, so responsibilities are much wider. Ads of this type of work are rarely published on the Internet. Usually recruitment is carried out by specialized agencies or crew is employed from recommendation. The crew travels with the plane, so layovers can extend to months, depending on the preference of the owner.
Advantages: work less intense; long layovers; longer holidays, often based on rotaring system – eg. two months working and one month of holiday; high salary
Disadvantages: high responsibility; constant availability and lack of schedule; high requirements (age, appearance, nationality – depending on the tastes of the owner of the aircraft); required experience
Business jets, private charters
Companies specializing in the rental of luxury aircrafts for businesses and private individuals.
Advantages: layovers; longer holidays, often based on rotaring system – eg. two months working and one month of holiday; high salary
Wady: constant availability and lack of schedule; high requirements
Examples of private charters: Vista Jet, Global Jet, Alpha Star, Qatar Executive
Working for private airlines and aircraft owners for a short period of time or a single flight. Only by specialized agencies recruting crew for aviation or from recommendation.
Advantages: flexibility – you can work when you want
Disadvantages: work in an unfamiliar environment, big responsibility, insurance and medical care on your own, hard to get a job without connections, lack of permanent employment