As a dispatcher, I am responsible for making sure my flights get out on time and most importantly, are planned with expert care. I can’t remember the last time I had a ‘boring’ day where everything went according to plan and all the flights were sent to the crew well in advance with no changes leading up to takeoff. Truth be told, it’s those busy days that I live for! I love the feeling of successfully managing multiple changes, forecasting how a weather system will affect my flight and communicating those updates to the pilot. Do you ever look back on your shift and wonder how you accomplished all of that?
I asked myself that question the other day and it came down to two main factors: time management and N-Flight Planning (NFP). Having a flight planning software that works with me and helps me prioritize my decisions makes such a difference in my day!
When I start my shift, I typically have about 30-40 flights on my desk that need to be planned so I would sort them by departure time. Thanks to the integrations we had set up between NFP and our crew, MRO and operations systems, all the critical information of the day was already loaded for the flight when I logged in. When our OCC Manager would make a tail swap, he could just make the change in his operations system and NFP would alert me of the change which saved him a phone call to my desk. On particularly busy days, I could even set up the automation for my flights to recompute automatically when a change came through like a captain’s name change or tail swap. It helped that I could turn the automation on or off depending on how my day was going and the other dispatchers could do the same, based on how much assistance they wanted from NFP.
I found that planning a flight was easy because of the way NFP is designed. When you open the plan for a flight, all of the inputs are on one screen so you can quickly see what needs to be done. Real estate comes at a premium when it comes to my computer monitors, so the ability to see every input at once instead of opening multiple screens for one program is important.
Once I have the flight plan ready to go, I like to give it a final review and then attach the rest of the briefing package before I send it to the crew. Having the option to customize my briefing package is useful because I usually have a mixture of EDTO and domestic flights on my desk, which have different requirements. For EDTO flights I like to include additional weather charts with the route and EDTO rings overlaid. For domestic flights, I can send an abbreviated package that includes the METAR/TAF and NOTAMs. The flexibility to include additional documents and customize the briefing package based on the type of flying saves me time at the end so I can get the flight plan to the crew on time.
As I think back on a busy day, I know my success comes from managing my time well and prioritizing the tasks as they come up. I rely on the features in NFP to take care of the routine tasks so I can focus on the more complex responsibilities and communicating them with my team. Having a flight planning system that works with you and your workflow is the key to a successful day of flight planning.
Kailey Campbell – Product Marketing Specialist at NAVBLUE
Former Allegiant Dispatcher