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A Day In The Life Of An Aircraft Dispatcher  
User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 6120 posts, RR: 14
Posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 12271 times:

I've decided to give this a shot based on SevenThreeSeven's insistance, so here it goes. There won't be any pictures, so I'll give my best description.

11 Zulu

I walk in today, and for my 10 hour shift, I start out with a total of 66 flights on my desk, which does not include the possible sick call, diversion recovery, or reposition flight(s). This number has been slowly creeping up, but should go down a little once the class of new-hires gets checked out. The first thing I do when I log into my desk, is check weather charts, TFRs, and radar provided by my ASD to give me a picture of how good, or bad, the day will most likely turn out. Today, the weather picture looks relatively good, with the exception of the west coast which currently has a nice trough in the jetstream extending all the way down to Baja California. There is also a cold front extending from Baja extending through Billings, Montana, conjoined with a low pressure center located over Las Vegas, NV, and so far, it has been pretty benign, with only a few scattered storms. There is another low centered over Cheyenne, WY, with a warm front stretching to Fort Smith, AR, causing some precipitation in Kansas, then becoming a cold front extending out past Savannah, GA. There is also another low centered east of Maine, with the lingering preciptation that has been causing flooding all throughout that area for the past few days. All in all, it should be a good day for flying in most of the country.

AIRMET TURB...WA OR CA AND CSTL WTRS ID MT WY NV UT AZ
FROM 70NW GGW TO SHR TO SLC TO PGS TO 70ESE BZA TO BZA TO 20S MZB
TO 210SW MZB TO 110SW PYE TO ENI TO DSD TO 70SW YXC TO 70NW GGW
OCNL MOD TURB BTN FL180 AND FL370 DUE TO UPR LOW AND WIND SHEAR
ASSOC WITH JTST. CONDS ENDG 14Z N OF 110SW PYE-FMG-DNJ-70SW YXC
LN. ELSW...CONDS CONTG BYD 14Z SPRDG ACRS RMNDR MT RMNDR WRN AND
CNTRL WY AND RMNDR NRN UT BY 18Z. CONDS CONTG THRU 20Z.

As mentioned in this AIRMET, due to the trough in the jetstream, there is a strong possibility for windshear and turbulance all over the west coast today.

OAK UA /OV 2800/14500/TM 0840/FL340/TP B757/TB MOD=

The only PIREP to help me with my flight planning for this turbulance was given two hours before my shift began, so I got a hold of one of my pilots, and he agreed to be my guinea pig for his first flight so that some PIREPs will get into the system for myself, other dispatchers, pilots, and flight planners to use for future flight planning. What I've also done is filed a few of my other flights lower with some extra fuel so that if they have to descend, they will have the fuel to complete the flight at the lower altitude, should the turbulance be worse than forecasted.

The forecast winds at O'Hare today are currently, and forecasted to be, from the northwest, so they are using plan Wierd today, which is a good plan, but not as good as plan X; however, based on forecast conditions, will provide the best arrival and departure rate for the day. Based on this, the arrival demand is forecast to be over by at least 10 planes per hour starting at 17Z, which may lead to a ground delay progam, but on weekends, they generally try to avoid it as best they can by using miles-in-trail to allow proper sequencing. Using this information, it would be wise for me to throw on a little holding fuel in case ATC decides to start holding inbound aircraft.

Another thing that I need to be concerned about today are the fuel shortages in both Sacramento, CA, and San Diego, CA. This means that I will have to tanker in much fuel as I possibly can today in order to protect as much fuel at those airports as possible until they can get more in. For me, this means that I might have to tanker in fuel from higher cost cities, which completely throws off the whole cost-saving plan altogether.

More to come as the day progresses!


Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
5 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 6120 posts, RR: 14
Reply 1, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 12167 times:

13Z

My guinea pig is airborne, and he made it to his filed altitude of FL340, but then started making a slow descent down to FL260, which, according to him, is the smoothest. So far, this proves that the forecast is right, which means that I will most likely be filing my flights at or below FL300 through that area today, which won't help at all with fuel cost.

The latest ATC telecon is showing that unless the wind changes at Chicago, they will institute a ground delay program, which for the workers and passengers in the affected cities, are never fun. I'm wondering what kind of times I might see today if they do put one into effect.

So far, everything has gone smoothly.

15Z

So far, so good. Four hours into my shift, and so far, over half of my flights are released, with 12 currently airborne.

One of my flights busted a brake line, and now is taking a delay. They say that it might be an hour or so to complete the repair.

I've let one of my flights inbound to San Francisco know about the turbulance to be expected, and he should be starting a very early descent soon to cut under it all.



Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
User currently offlineScarletHarlot From Canada, joined Jul 2003, 4673 posts, RR: 56
Reply 2, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 12062 times:

Hey Goldenshield, this is very cool, but I am having difficulty understanding some of the terms and phrases you use. Can you please elaborate?

Quoting Goldenshield (Thread starter):
I start out with a total of 66 flights on my desk

What does it mean that you have a flight on your desk? Are these all the flights you will manage today?

Quoting Goldenshield (Thread starter):
The forecast winds at O'Hare today are currently, and forecasted to be, from the northwest, so they are using plan Wierd today, which is a good plan, but not as good as plan X;

What do these plans mean?

Quoting Goldenshield (Thread starter):
miles-in-trail

What does this mean?

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 1):
over half of my flights are released,

Does that mean that they've landed and your job with them is done?

Thanks for writing this for us!



But that was when I ruled the world
User currently offlineANCFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 12028 times:

Very cool. . . . waiting for more . . . .

User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 6120 posts, RR: 14
Reply 4, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 12008 times:

17Z

The winds have been kind, and now ORD has switched over to plan X, so now I don't have to worry about any flow control. There is a low pressure system off of the Southern California coast that is bringing up moisture from the Gulf of Juarez and making some nice rain clouds with embedded thunderstorms.

My mechanical is still being fixed, and the legs after this one have been cancelled, and replaced with a ferry to another hub once he arrives at where he's going.

19Z

Things are chugging along. Now, with only 2 hours left in my shift, I have 10 flights left to release, and 12 flight to pass down to other dispatchers before I leave.

Currently, I have 11 flights airborn, and it's still looking pretty in most of the country. The storms that were over Kansas earlier have moved on to Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri, while the moisture in California isn't really do much except making things wet.


With the good weather today, it has been relatively easy. No major issues, and except for the mechanical, nothing was really noteworthy. These are the days that you would want to visit a dispatch office. If things like snow, strorms, and other things, like lots of irregular operations and reroutes, happen, then those are the where you will see how busy we can get, but we probably wouldn't have time to answer questions, which makes it a bad time to visit.

I've only had to talk to my crews about 3 times today, and with ACARS, I didn't have have to call them over the radio, which is usually a hassle since the frequencies can get busy sometimes.

Quoting ScarletHarlot (Reply 2):
What does it mean that you have a flight on your desk? Are these all the flights you will manage today?

Yes. All the flights on my desk are under my authority. Unless I release the flight, it doesn't go anywhere.

Quoting ScarletHarlot (Reply 2):
What do these plans mean?

O'Hare's plans are runway configuration options. Plan X is landing 4R and 9R, with departures off of 4L, 9L, 32L, 32R and occurs most of the time. Plan Wierd is landing 22R and 22L, with departures off of 32L, 32R, and 22L.

Quoting ScarletHarlot (Reply 2):
What does this mean?

Mile-in-trail is a measure that is used to allow an arrival rate that would normally produce flow to arrive at the aiirport and provide minimal delays, and basically is an increase of distance between aircraft arriving into an airport.

Quoting ScarletHarlot (Reply 2):
Does that mean that they've landed and your job with them is done?

I release a flight 1.5 hours before the flight actually departs. This allows operations to order the fuel, and give the agent time to perform load planning by using the information that I provide to him. So, when I said that, 35 out of the 60 flights I had were released. Twelve were airborne, 10 were preparing for departure, and the rest had already blocked into the gate.



Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
User currently offlineLatemodel100 From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (9 years 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 11007 times:

maybe someone could post a new dispatcher day thread soon. I am very interested in learning the real job...........


If at first you don't suceed, try, try again.
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