10.5 Planning Monitoring and Inspection

10.5.1   Flight Planning

Flight Planning is a major part of the dispatchers’ function. The dispatcher must demonstrate adequate knowledge of the company’s SOPs and AFM, including aircraft performance charts, to effectively plan a flight. The competency check for flight dispatcher in CASS paragraph 725.124(21)(i) gives a list of items to be covered during the check. The list is a minimum and may be expanded at the air operator’s discretion. The following is a suggested list of check items during competency check of a flight dispatcher. Some but not all areas to monitor or inspect are:

  1. the dispatcher’s awareness and use of proper charts and manuals;

  2. the dispatcher’s knowledge of the flight planning hardware and software is adequate for the intended operation;

  3. the dispatcher’s knowledge of, or competency in, the interpretation of performance charts;

  4. the dispatcher is able to check for deviations in the conditions that may affect a flight;

  5. the dispatcher is able to determine applicable NOTAM information for a flight;

  6. the dispatcher is able to demonstrate adequate flight watch and/or flight following; and

  7. the dispatcher is able to determine that the fuel load is adequate for the intended flight.

10.5.2   Shift Turn Over

The oncoming flight dispatcher must ensure he is briefed on the following by the departing flight dispatcher:

  1. the overall weather affecting the areas of operation;

  2. weather at departure/alternate/arrival and enroute airports under the dispatcher’s jurisdiction and on any other system or route limitation that may affect a flight;

  3. PIREP from flights during the previous shift;

  4. NOTAM information affecting operations;

  5. any known significant MEL/CDL items on aircraft that are/will be under the dispatcher’s jurisdiction; and

  6. any additional items that may affect the safety of flights under the dispatcher’s jurisdiction such as any abnormal incident that may have occurred during the previous shift.

10.5.3   Briefing Documentation

The flight dispatcher accepting a shift assignment must receive a briefing by the outgoing flight dispatcher with reference to the following documentation. This material must be current and relevant to the aircraft and geographical environment over which the incoming flight dispatcher is to preside.

  1. Flight Planning system and dispatch monitoring;

  2. 500 hPa Analysis;

  3. High/Low Level Significant Weather Chart;

  4. Surface Analysis Chart;

  5. NOTAMS;

  6. Graphical Area Forecast / Area Forecast (USA if applicable);

  7. METAR/TAF for all sector origin/destinations and alternate airports;


  9. Aircraft Flight Manuals and operating manuals, as required;

  10. Minimum Equipment Lists, as required;

  11. Operational Restrictions in effect;

  12. Dispatch Shift Log information, as appropriate; and

  13. Aeronautical publications, as required.

10.5.4   Briefing

A flight dispatcher's briefing conducted at shift changeover must consist of a thorough explanation of the following categories:

  1. Weather details;

  2. NOTAM information for destination airports and alternate airports;

  3. Aircraft serviceability Minimum Equipment List limitation;

  4. Performance considerations, routine and irregular operations; and

  5. Flight Dispatch Bulletins and Notices affecting technical and administrative duties.

Some common errors that may affect the assessment briefings and briefing documentation are:

  1. Assumption of shift incomplete;

  2. Weather briefing not provided or relieving dispatcher did not become familiar with weather prior to taking over shift;

  3. NOTAM information not obtained or not provided;

  4. MEL items not provided or incorrect information regarding MEL items;

  5. Take-off weights calculated incorrectly (for instance, pressure correction not calculated or calculated in error, wind component used but not shown on flight plan or calculated in error);

  6. Dispatcher log items not discussed or requested by relieving dispatcher; and

  7. Relieving dispatcher did not check for new company bulletins or notices prior to shift take over.

10.5.5   During Shift

The ACD should check the flight dispatcher’s ability to monitor and perform the following minimum activation procedures upon shift take over. These procedures must include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Exercise flight watch during the shift. Flight watch consists of monitoring weather, NOTAMS and relay of any valuable safety information to the flight crew members;

  2. The flight dispatcher’s ability to efficiently use Jeppesen, Canada Air Pilot, and/or company route charts with minimum reference to the legend;

  3. The flight dispatcher’s ability to quickly calculate the fuel to alternates from the flight plan during enroute or emergency situations;

  4. The flight dispatcher’s ability to thoroughly check the runway limitation requirements under prevailing conditions;

  5. Review the Flight Dispatch Bulletin/Notice and Memo books;

  6. Enter information in the dispatcher log as required;

  7. Review all MEL items as required, ensuring relevant conditions and procedures have been complied with;

  8. Review planned flights, confirming flight watch status, planned alternates and additional fuel;

  9. Review NOTAMs for route of flights, destinations, diversions and alternates;

  10. Review all relevant METAR’s and TAFOR’s;

  11. Review all GFA (graphical area forecasts), FA's (area forecasts), AIRMETs, SIGMETS, PIREPs and other relevant meteorological information.

    Some common errors that may affect the assessment of briefings and briefing documentation are: 

  1. Dispatcher did not regularly check hourly weather;

  2. Dispatcher was unable to calculate re-clearance in a timely manner;

  3. Dispatcher did not calculate take-off performance correctly;

  4. Dispatcher did not review alternates for potential amendments;

  5. Dispatcher did not advise flight crews of relevant changes in a timely manner;

  6. Dispatcher not being pro active with regards to operations.

10.5.6   Dispatcher General Knowledge

The ACD should verify the flight dispatcher’s general knowledge of Transport Canada and the air operator’s policies and regulations. The following are some areas that can be observed or questions asked to the dispatcher during a DCC:

  1. the dispatcher has knowledge of abnormal operations (example: fuel calculations for gear down operations, landing distances for anti-skid inoperative, etc.);

  2. the dispatcher knows the conditions requiring specific paperwork/authorization from Transport Canada or the air operator, etc..;

  3. the dispatcher has a good working knowledge of Transport Canada and the air operator’s emergency procedures;

  4. the dispatcher is familiar with the documents required for off line operations, government requirements or unscheduled landings (example: custom’s special procedures, handling of contracting agencies at unscheduled airports, etc..);

  5. the dispatcher knows where to find data for airports at unscheduled landings (where it is found in the Canada Air Pilot, company charts, etc..);

  6. during flight planning, the dispatcher  is able to recognize and take corrective action when a RNAV/RVSM routing is selected that does not satisfy the aircraft’s equipment;

  7. the dispatcher demonstrates the ability to apply MEL operational restrictions;

  8. the dispatcher  checks the accuracy of entered data;

  9. the dispatcher demonstrates knowledge of his responsibilities within the SMS, including safety reporting requirements and emergency response plan responsibilities.

10.5.7   Additional items to be checked by an ACD or observed during a monitor include, but are not limited to:

  1. Ensuring all flights have been authorized by a flight dispatcher;

  2. Monitoring flight releases to make sure the time and date specified is consistent with the operational flight plan;

  3. Awareness of ATC requirements during an emergency;

  4. Demonstrating satisfactory knowledge of RNAV/RVSM procedures. ACDs must ensure dispatcher familiarity with the operation of these systems appropriate to the areas of operation.

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