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Aircraft dispatcher keeps flights safe and on schedule

Adit Baruah sits at his office desk with four computer monitors in the background.
Adit Baruah is an aircraft dispatcher at SkyWest airlines

Alumnus Adit Baruah (‘22, aviation) earned a Federal Aviation Administration Aircraft Dispatch certificate after completing The Ohio State University Center for Aviation Studies’ dispatch program. In this Q&A he shares industry insights, career outlook and why he is passionate about keeping flights safe and on schedule.

Question: Who is your employer and what is your job title? What aviation certifications do you hold?

Answer: I work as a Part 121 [airline] aircraft dispatcher for SkyWest Airlines. I currently hold a Part 65 Aircraft Dispatcher certificate, an Instrument Ground Instructor certificate, and a Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Pilot certificate. I am currently pursuing a Part 61 Advanced Ground Instructor certificate and am also looking into pursuing a Part 61 Sport Pilot certificate in the near future.

What are "FAA Parts"?
Information from the Center for Aviation Studies

"FAA Parts" are sections of Federal Aviation Administration policies. Each certificated area of aviation is defined under a different part, or section, of the agency’s policies called Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR). The below lay definitions further describe the FAR Parts mentioned in this interview.

Part 121 air carrier: These are usually large, United States-based airlines, regional carriers and cargo operators.

Part 65 Aircraft Dispatcher: This section details the requirements needed to perform the duties of an FAA-certificated Aircraft Dispatcher.

Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Pilot certificate: Rules governing pilots of small drones are specified in this section.

Part 61 Sport Pilot certificate: Part 61 describes the requirements to earn pilot certificates of all levels, including student, light sport, recreational, private, commercial and airline.

Q: What is a day-in-the-life of an aircraft dispatcher like?

A: Part 121 aircraft dispatchers [at airlines] work within their respective airline’s Operations Control Center (OCC) – it’s a little like NASA’s mission control in terms of function. Our dispatchers work 10-hour shifts and are responsible for creating dozens of flight releases and disseminating them to our flight crews. Other responsibilities include coordinating with different ATC [air traffic control] centers across the national airspace system, communicating with airport operations, and exercising operational control with Captains to amend flight releases when needed – whether it be for fuel, weight and balance issues, or route filed.

Once a flight takes off, there is still work to be done. We maintain constant situational awareness of our flights’ en route weather, destination and alternate weather, and any other conditions that could affect the safety of our flights – in other words, we are our pilots’ eyes and ears on the ground. By gathering information from multiple resources and analyzing our flights through a variety of perspectives, we are able to keep our flights safe and on schedule.

Q: What is rewarding about being an aircraft dispatcher?

A: For me, the most rewarding part about being a dispatcher is the ability to solve real-world problems every day. I love seeing the real-time, positive impact my decisions are making on a flight flying 500 miles away. Whether it’s guiding a flight around massive squall lines or mitigating a potential delay through careful coordination with mainline partners, I love being the “behind-the-scenes” person who can help passengers and crews reach their destination safely.

Adit Baruah stands outside next to a SkyWest Airlines sign
Adit Baruah at SkyWest Airlines' headquarters

Q: How did your dispatch certificate from the Center for Aviation Studies prepare you for your role?

A: The dispatch course sequence through the Center for Aviation Studies was rigorous and extremely in-depth. Both Brian Strzempkowski and Adam Beckman did an amazing job at presenting the material and answering any questions students had. But at the end of the day, it all came down to how students prepared for the FAA oral exam. Both professors made it clear that this checkride was no cake walk, and that an extensive amount of studying needed to be done outside of class to pass it. I took those words to heart, studying 4-5 hours every day for 5 straight months till the day of my exam.

I truly believe that this transparency from the Center for Aviation Studies was what prepared me for my role at SkyWest Airlines. Federal regulations require dispatchers to undergo Indoc Training after being initially hired at a Part 121 [airline] carrier. The very first thing the chief dispatch instructor told my new-hire class was, “These first three weeks will be like drinking out of a fire hose.” This was absolutely the case, and I genuinely believe that had Brian and Adam not set a high bar from the outset of class, I would not have done as well as I did.

Q: Can you give advice for current Ohio State students who may not have considered pursuing an aircraft dispatch career?

A: Whether you’re in the air transportation program, aviation management program, aviation engineering program, or even a different major altogether, [aircraft] dispatch is a career worth looking into. If your goal is to become a pilot, having your dispatch certificate is a great way to distinguish yourself from the other applicants. Having a certificate that is equivalent to the ATP for pilots shows recruiters you possess a strong understanding of the technical skills required for the job – including reading instrument approach plates, interpreting weather, and applying NOTAMs. If your goal is to branch out within the aviation industry or to explore what opportunities exist in a new field, dispatch is one of the best ways to get involved in flight operations without pursuing a pilot certificate. My advice to anyone looking into this career is to explore dispatching further and see what opportunities it provides. You might be fulfilling technical credit towards your major, and it’ll provide an added layer of job security. Oh, and once you get your dispatch certificate, it never expires!

Q: How is the aircraft dispatcher job market?

A: The current job market for dispatchers is very strong. Dispatchers are in high demand, so now is the time to pursue a career in this field. It is a rewarding profession, and the associated flight benefits are an added bonus too! Did I mention dispatchers are among a select group of people who can occupy the flight deck jumpseat? In my opinion, it’s the best seat on a plane!

Q: Anything else you would like to share?

A: I would like to thank the Center for Aviation Studies for giving me the opportunity to share my experiences as a Part 121 [airline] aircraft dispatcher. I would also like to thank my professors and mentors, Brian and Adam, for all the help they have given me, and for their continued effort in teaching the industry’s newest and brightest dispatchers.

The Ohio State University has a world-class aviation program, and I know that whether its students become pilots, dispatchers, or other aviation professionals, they will positively affect the aviation industry as a whole. O-H!

Interested in learning more? Visit the center’s aircraft dispatch webpage for program details by clicking here.

Categories: AlumniStudents