George Coe is an ASP ambassador and currently works in airport operations as a flight dispatcher for TAG Aviation at Farnborough Airport. He holds a private pilot’s licence and is working towards his commercial licence. We asked him a few questions about his day to day job as a flight dispatcher.
What does your average day at TAG involve?
My usual shift pattern is 4 days on, 4 days off - 12 hour shifts. There are a mixture of days and nights. A typical day includes planning future flights - setting up airport handling services, obtaining permits for landing and overflying certain countries, checking the safety of a certain destination and advising flight crews of any potential issues, flight planning (creating the safest and most efficient route for the flight through waypoints and airways) and mass & balance/performance calculations.
In the afternoon I brief the crews for all the flights the next day based on all of the above, and run some flight plans based on weather, which we then 'file' to make them active for the actual flight the next day.
Throughout the day I also ensure all the relevant crews have received their pre-flight paperwork package and a final brief a few hours before the flight. I would also ensure delays and changes of any flights on the day are actioned. We are always on standby to deal with any emergency situations and technical problems too! It's a pretty intense 12 hours with lots of multi-tasking and prioritising but it feels great leaving at the end of the day knowing you've worked hard and got aircraft safely to their destinations.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part of the job is dealing with high pressure situations such as new flights which want to depart in a few hours or less. Seeing the flight all the way from set-up to dispatch and watching it depart on time gives me a great sense of satisfaction.
What’s your least favourite part of your job?
The early starts are definitely a struggle sometimes! I have to get up at 04:30 for an early shift and won't get home until 20:30; It's tiring but rewarding.
What’s your advice to young people who want to work in airport operations?
You have to be good at multi-tasking and prioritising tasks, and prepared to work hard! There are lots of things going on at once which chop and change last minute, so it's essential that you can remain calm and professional at all times. Overall though, there's no specific qualifications needed but having a good knowledge base, adaptability, a willingness to learn, and passion.
How will working in operations help your ambition to become a pilot?
The knowledge I have and will continue to learn and build during my time in operations is invaluable to my future career as a pilot. I am able to understand the 'behind the scenes' operations which flight crew wouldn't necessarily understand. Also, all the knowledge picked up is relevant to my ATPL exams which means I'm one step ahead with revision!