History of Aircraft Dispatchers in the United States: Improving Safety

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Laura Laster


The aircraft dispatcher is an indispensable member of United States airline operations. The airline industry advanced from early attempts to transport mail and occasional passengers on a scheduled basis into a highly complex, tightly regulated, extremely safe means of transportation. Dispatchers have a key role that has expanded over time both in its scope and in its authority. The concept of operational control began with the desire to improve safety and enhance situational awareness for air carriers. Beginning with the earliest references to dispatchers, this paper explores the history of dispatchers from 1929 to the 1970s, operational control in the United States, and associated safety improvements. Drawing from both primary sources in the form of original aviation trade journals, aircraft accident reports, and books reviewing airline history, this paper examines how the dispatch profession has evolved and significantly enhanced aviation safety. 

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Peer-Reviewed Articles


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