At any given moment, there are hundreds of Compass employees working behind the scenes to ensure the safe operation of our airline. One of those individuals is dispatcher Edison Konold. A Minneapolis native and self-described “aviation nerd,” Edison was working for a commercial aircraft fueling company when he stumbled upon a Compass dispatcher opening online. One year later, he can’t imagine being anywhere else.
My first year at Compass has been extremely rewarding. I knew right away that this was going to be the professional family I was looking for. Bob Gleason, the Chief Operating Officer, personally welcomed me on day one, and I’ve felt at home ever since.”
As a dispatcher, Edison has a lot on his plate, including building flight plans. A flight plan is the route that an aircraft takes to get from its departure point to its final destination. To build a flight plan, dispatchers must take into account a number of factors, including weather conditions, airspace restrictions and airport conditions.
However, there’s more to getting a flight off the ground than building a flight plan. Before a flight can take off, Dispatch checks with Maintenance to ensure that the aircraft is safe to fly, and with Crew Scheduling to confirm that the crew assigned to the flight has had the required amount of rest and can legally operate the flight. Dispatchers are also in constant contact with Air Traffic Control for airport delays and weather updates.
“Dispatch is the heart of the airline,” explains Edison, “and communication is priority number one.”
When a dispatcher is confident that all of the pieces for a safe flight are in place—a safe flight path, a well-rested crew and a mechanically-sound aircraft—they initiate a flight release. The flight release is the legal document that allows a flight to take off, and it must be signed by both a dispatcher and the Captain of the flight. It signifies that both the dispatcher and the Captain agree that the flight can be completed legally and safely.
But things can change, even after a flight has taken off. Sometimes a flight has to deviate from its flight plan. A flight may not be able to land at its intended destination for variety of reasons, ranging from weather or airport congestion, to a sick passenger. When that happens, a dispatcher will help determine the safest course of action, which may involve rerouting the flight around weather or diverting to an alternate airport to accommodate a sick passenger. If a flight is rerouted, Dispatch determines if the aircraft has enough fuel to accommodate the extra time in the air. If not, it advises the pilots where to land for additional fuel.
All Dispatch personnel must obtain an FAA dispatch license, which includes 200 hours of training from an FAA-approved flight school. Coursework covers everything from aeronautical charts and the national airspace system, to FAA regulations and weather theory. “To work in Dispatch, you need a background in aeronautical knowledge, including charts and systems,” Edison explained. “Some of us have also meteorology degrees, which is especially helpful for weather-related aircraft routing during the winter months, as well as understanding runway conditions.”
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