The professional organization of Canadian aircraft dispatchers is dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of aviation safety. We will collaborate within the profession to share information and educate each other. We will focus public attention on the role aircraft dispatchers play in the safe operation of commerical air traffic. We will advise government agencies and direct public policy to ensure the highest level of safety in all commercial aviation under our authority.
Welcome to Canadian Dispatchers Organization. At this juncture, this is merely an idea, a vision, a hope for a professional organization of Airline Dispatchers in Canada. I welcome licensed and unlicensed dispatchers alike to gather round.
Me? I'm Victoria L. Baker, I've been a licensed Type B Dispatcher since 2000, I wrote my exams in 1999, 2 years after Transport Canada mandated the licensing of airline dispatchers in Canada. I've worked for regional airlines in various parts of the country, I've been a training dispatcher, I've been a Check Dispatcher, I've been a Chief Dispatcher. I've written training manuals and courses, I've written SOP's and job manuals.
I love this business.
I started in 1978 in the RCAFC, went on to private flying lessons in 1995, and Seneca College of Aviation and Flight Technology in 1998. When I ran out of funding for flying, I looked at the two week Airline Dispatch course that Atkinson College was running and saw an opportunity to parlay my experience into a paying job so I could keep flying.
Six months into the job I had figured out that completely by accident I'd landed in the place I was most meant to be. I love dispatching. I love airline operations.
Every dispatcher I've met has had a similar tale to tell - we tend to end up in this job by some round about means. There aren't a lot (but some) out there who set out on a career path to be an "Airline Dispatcher".
You see, there's a problem in our industry.
There's a lack of visibility. The world doesn't even know we exist. Even the pilots, and the managements we work with can forget about the critical role we play. Most dispatchers I know complain of a lack of respect throughout the industry.
I don't think it's deliberate, just oversight.
Since the day Wilbur and Orville got a jury-rigged bicycle to fly 120 feet in 1903, the aviation industry has understood in a hard wired way - you need a pilot to fly an airplane. Since the first steward served drinks aboard the German zepplin LZ10 Schwaben in 1911 Flight Attendants have been an intregal part of serving the needs of commercial aviation. These are the aviation professionals the general public sees. Very few people know that dispatchers were there right in the beginning:
"The profession of the Airline Dispatcher is nearly as old as the airline industry itself. In the 1920's, airlines were created to carry airmail under contract with the U.S. government. Borrowing a term from the railroad industry, these early airlines hired dispatchers to plan and control the movement of equipment (airplanes). The early airline dispatcher's primary duty was to ensure the safe and expeditious handling of airmail through the nationwide network of air routes. Within a few years, airlines gained access to government teletype lines providing updated weather information, and dispatchers compared this information with published schedules to determine the best routing for airmail. After airlines added passenger services, the dispatcher would sometimes declare conditions too hazardous to permit passengers to make the trip. Except in the worst conditions, however, dispatchers made certain that the mail always went through." Donna M. Corbett Aviation Historian, Smithsonian Institute.
In the U.S. dispatchers became a mandated part of the airline industry in 1938.
"In 1938, Congress passed the landmark Civil Aeronautics Act. In accordance with that Act, federal regulations required U.S. airlines to employ dispatchers, who were required to obtain a federal license". Donna M. Corbett Aviation Historian, Smithsonian Institute.
We tend to be a little behind our American cousins here in Canada sometimes. Dispatchers in Canada have only been licensed since 1997.
It's only been the past 13 years that we've been required to pass written examinations in operations and meteorology from the same question data base that the ATPL written exam is taken from. While obviously company operations staff existed before that, the concept of 'Co-Authority' is a relatively new one in Canada.
Legally we stand shoulder to shoulder with our pilot counterparts - the invisible crew member. However, out of sight, is out of mind they say. We are the 'not a pilot' crew member in an industry of pilots. Most pilots (but far from all) when they stop and think about it, appreciate their dispatcher, but they don't stop and think about it very often.
The role I hope for Canadian Dispatcher Organization to play is as a Canadian counterpart to the Aviation Dispatch Federation in the U.S.. A national professional organization dispatchers - to share information, to educate each other, to lift the public and professional profiles of the role we play in the safe operation of commercial aviation, to comment on and thus help direct public policy on commercial aviation as it directly and indirectly affects us. While a lot of this will by it's very nature focus on licensed Type A and Type B dispatch, we welcome the unlicensed flight followers, and duty managers as well.
At this moment - Canadian Dispatcher Organization exists in idea only. I have a url, the will, the time, and some of the contacts to hopefully grow this into a dynamic vibrant effective voice for our industry. We have no membership aside from myself, we have no constitution, we have no annual general meeting, we have no status as a non profit, we have no elected board of directors, we have nothing more than a dream, and more time on our hands than good sense. Hey, everything has to start somewhere. Let this start here.
That said - web space costs money, servers need to be maintained, software to run the blog and the forums we hope to add within the next month - they all cost money. And well frankly - I need to eat in the meantime if I'm going to take this to a full time advocacy organization for our industry. So, rather than membership fees, and a grand list of what services that will buy you, I've added a 'PayPal' donation button to the bottom of this page. I promise you I will have a forum and a blog added to this website within the next month, I promise you I will talk to you, and I will listen to you, and I will give 100% to the cause of uplifting the profile of professional airline dispatch in Canada.
And I promise to try to Shanghai you into working for this cause with me.
Vicky - May 2010
The Most Important Issue for Dispatchers in Canada Today