Each airline has one central facility from which to manage its flight activities. These facilities are often called airline dispatch offices or operational control centers. All decisions regarding the airline's daily operation are made in the operational control center by FAA licensed Aircraft Dispatchers working together with airline management and flight crews.
Most airlines operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Airline Dispatchers are required to be on duty for all hours of the airline’s operation. By FAA regulations, dispatchers are limited to a maximum of 10 hours per shift.
However, each airline’s dispatcher work schedule may vary for operational coverage and necessity. Aircraft Flight Dispatchers may work 4 days for 10 hours each or 5 days for 8 hours each. Shift start times will also vary to ensure coverage for the airline’s operation. Holidays, days off, and vacations are usually scheduled by seniority.
Generally, the scope of authority for an airline dispatcher is regional. This means a particular person a may be in charge of all company operations for a given geographical region.
Airline Dispatchers are usually granted authority to cross all organizational lines. With this authority they are responsible for directing many aspects of airline operations. They frequently have direct access to top airline management such as chief pilot or director of maintenance.
Airline Flight Dispatchers often work closely with maintenance, ramp control, crew scheduling, the fuel department, and others within the organization to ensure safe and timely completion of all activities relating to the flight. This information provides the flight dispatcher with "the big picture".
Aircraft Flight Dispatchers possess all of the required information to make intelligent decisions regarding the airline operation. An example of this is that a licensed dispatcher is the only person in an airline authorized to cancel a flight. Decisions made by airline dispatchers have a direct impact on airline safety, airline delays and performance, and even customer service.