History of Aircraft Dispatchers in the United States: Improving Safety

Main Article Content

Laura Laster

Abstract

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. 

Article Details

Section
Peer-Reviewed Articles

References

Allen, O. E. (1981). The airline builders. Time-Life Books.

Aviation. (1929, October 19). Taking the “guess-work” out of air transportation. Aviation,

(16), 4.

Aviation. (1930, April 5). Boeing installs the airplane telephone. Aviation, 28(14), 58.

Aviation. (1933, March). Airport signal gun. Aviation, 32(3), 100.

Aviation. (1933, August). Airport lighting control desk. Aviation, 32(8), 240.

Aviation. (1936, October). Boeing school announces airline dispatching & meteorology.

Aviation, 35(10), 66.

Aviation. (1937, August). Flying with one foot on the ground. Aviation, 36(8), 24-25, 72, 75.

Aviation and Aeronautical Engineering. (1916a, October 1). A Sperry night flying equipment.

Aviation and Aeronautical Engineering, 1(5), 163.

Aviation and Aeronautical Engineering. (1916b, October 15). It is reported that –. Aviation and

Aeronautical Engineering, 1(6), 197.

Aviation Safety Network. (2018, March 3). Accident description: American Airways Curtiss T-

C Condor II. Retrieved from https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?

id=19341228-0

Aviation Week. (1949, October 17). Flying lab tests airline radar. Aviation Week, 51(16), 28.

Aviation Week. (1955, May 16). AA to equip DC-7s with c-band radar. Aviation Week,

(20), 20.

Aviation Week and Space Technology. (1962, February 5). CAB cites early liftoff in C-46F

crash. Aviation Week and Space Technology, 76(6), 79-84.

Caisse, S. (2015, October 14). Dispatch history [Conference keynote session]. 2015 Safety

Symposium, Airline Dispatchers Federation, Atlanta, GA, United States.

Christian, G. L. (1955, July 25). Airborne radar boom gathering speed. Aviation Week,

(4), 34–36, 40.

Civil Aeronautics Authority. (1939, February 18). Air safety board report to the Civil

Aeronautics Authority as a result of an investigation of an accident involving aircraft NC-16066 of United Air Lines off Point Reyes, California, on November 29, 1938. Retrieved from https://www.theaviationvault.com/_files/ugd/9b0449_590011d88816438a8f8567

d63026b499.pdf

Civil Aeronautics Board. (n.d.). Report of the Civil Aeronautics Board of the investigation of an

accident involving civil aircraft of the United States NC 16086 which occurred near Centerville, Utah, on November 4, 1940. Retrieved from https://www.theaviationvault.com/_files/ugd/9b0449_848fe20f28b346a99e212c8aebf83fdb.pdf

Civil Aeronautics Board. (1941, November 19). Report of the Civil Aeronautics Board of the

investigation of an accident involving civil aircraft of the United States NC 21727 which occurred near Vero Beach, Florida, on April 3, 1941. Retrieved from https://www.theaviationvault.com/_files/ugd/9b0449_1c3392390794484685a8a9c88fa804d3.pdf

Civil Aeronautics Board. (1946a, January 26). Accident investigation report: American Airlines -

Rural Retreat, Virginia – February 23, 1945. Retrieved from https://www.theaviationvault.com/_files/ugd/9b0449_0302fcccd454401f8b782c245bf27552.pdf

Civil Aeronautics Board. (1946b, June 13). Accident investigation report: Eastern Air Lines –

New York, New York – December 30, 1945. Retrieved from https://www.theaviationvault.com/_files/ugd/9b0449_e8757eac145145eb81de4566af5f4be1.pdf

Civil Aeronautics Board. (1946c, December 10). Accident investigation report: Trans-Luxury

Airlines – Elko, Nevada – September 5, 1946. Retrieved from https://www.theaviationvault.com/_files/ugd/9b0449_e3a5402fc5504df18b45b37201f4f525.pdf

Civil Aeronautics Board. (1950, September 14). Accident investigation report: Transocean Air

Lines, Inc., Shannon, Ireland, August 15, 1949. Retrieved from https://www.theaviationvault.com/_files/ugd/9b0449_a5d200c2d4ca49d8875cfcc123380df2.pdf

Civil Aeronautics Board. (1951, April 10). Accident investigation report: Regina Cargo Airlines,

Inc., Teterboro, New Jersey, May 27, 1950. Retrieved from https://www.theaviationvault.com/_files/ugd/9b0449_c5ea5f4cd10646d1a94b0df7af5281ab.pdf

Civil Aeronautics Board. (1952, March 7). Accident investigation report: Continental Charters,

Inc., near Little Valley, New York, December 29, 1951. Retrieved from https://www.theaviationvault.com/_files/ugd/9b0449_9c8fe4c1ed23452ab7dac4a2bc608d0c.pdf

Civil Aeronautics Board. (1955, April 6). Accident investigation report: Johnson Flying Service,

Inc., - near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, December 22, 1954. Retrieved from https://www.theaviationvault.com/_files/ugd/9b0449_822c019400e24d4a950775f9e3dd962f.pdf

Civil Aeronautics Board. (1959, October 19). Aircraft accident report: Capital Airlines, Inc.,

Vickers-Armstrongs Viscount, N7463, near Chase, Maryland, May 12, 1959. Retrieved from https://www.theaviationvault.com/_files/ugd/9b0449_f607348a7b244ca3bf12f13

b19a03c51.pdf

Civil Aeronautics Board. (1962, February 2). Aircraft accident report: Imperial Airlines, Inc.,

Lockheed Constellation L-049, N2737A, Byrd Field, Richmond, Virginia, November 8, 1961. Retrieved from https://www.theaviationvault.com/_files/ugd/9b0449_fce44dfaee

ef8ddf00a37d565d8a.pdf

Civil Aeronautics Board. (1964, May 13). Aircraft accident report: Mohawk Airlines, Inc. Martin

, N449A, Rochester-Monroe County Airport, Rochester, New York, July 2, 1963. Retrieved from https://www.theaviationvault.com/_files/ugd/9b0449_a2c8c58684974

edcb77135dc799094ae.pdf

Civil Aeronautics Board. (1966, June 20). Aircraft accident report: Continental Air Lines, Inc. B-

-124, N70773, Kansas City Municipal Airport, Kansas City, Missouri, July 1, 1965. Retrieved from https://www.theaviationvault.com/_files/ugd/9b0449_7942ce8701e74c

b3b3bfe3af93f9aeaa.pdf

Department of Transportation. (n.d.). Table 2-9: U.S. air carrier(a) safety data [Data file].

Retrieved from https://www.bts.gov/content/us-air-carrier-safety-data

Federal Aviation Agency. (1962, August 22). Civil air regulations draft release no. 62-39.

Retrieved from http://dotlibrary.specialcollection.net/Document?db=DOT-CARS&query=(select+1118)

Federal Aviation Agency. (1963, July 8). Aircraft certification and operation rules for

supplemental air carriers, commercial operators using large aircraft, and certificated route air carriers engaging in charter flights or other special services. Retrieved from http://dotlibrary.specialcollection.net/Document?db=DOT-CARS&query=(select+986)

Federal Aviation Agency. (1963, July 12). Part 42 – aircraft certification and operation rules for

supplemental air carriers, commercial operators using large aircraft, and certificated route air carriers engaging in charter flights or other special services. Federal Register, 28(135), 7124-7158.

Federal Aviation Agency. (1965, July 7). Part 121 – certification and operations: air carriers and

commercial operators of large aircraft: landing performance operating limitations for turbojet powered transport category airplanes. Federal Register, 30(129), 8568-8572. Retrieved from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1965-07-07/pdf/FR-1965-07-07.pdf

Fritz, L. C. (1937, October 13). The importance of flight dispatching in air transportation.

Journal of Air Law and Commerce, 9(7), 279–282. Retrieved from https://scholar.smu.edu/jalc/vol9/iss2/7

Gann, E. K. (1940). Sky roads. Thomas Y. Crowell Company.

Garvey, W. & Fisher, D. (2002). The age of flight: A history of America’s pioneering airline.

Greensboro, NC: Pace Communications, Inc.

Glionna, J. M. (2010, December 13). Historic 747 reaches grim end in South Korea. Los Angeles

Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/2010/dec/13/world/la-fg-korea-plane-demolition-20101213

Harden, P. (2006, March 4). Western Union and the railroad telegraphers. El Defensor Chieftain.

Retrieved from http://www.radiotelegraphy.net/WESTERN_UNION.pdf

Harvard Law Review. (1963, May). CAB regulation of supplemental air carriers. Harvard Law

Review, 76(7), 1450-1471.

Holt, M. J. & Poynor, P. J. (2016). Air carrier operations (2nd ed.). Newcastle, WA: Aviation

Supplies & Academics, Inc.

Job, M. (1994). Air disaster volume 1. Fyshwick, Australia: Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd.

Journal of Air Law and Commerce. (1939, April). Air safety board accident report. Federal

Regulation, Journal of Air Law and Commerce, 10(2), 216-240. Retrieved from https://scholar.smu.edu/jalc/vol10/iss2/7

Knight, W. (1919, July 1). Wireless telegraphy applied to aviation. Aviation, 6(11), 572–573.

Lederer, J. (1936, July). “Go ahead, Newark.” Aviation, 35(7), 22–24.

National Transportation Safety Board. (1968, April 18). Aircraft accident report: Braniff

Airways, Inc., BAC 1-11, N1553, near Falls City, Nebraska, August 6, 1966. Retrieved from http://libraryonline.erau.edu/online-full-text/ntsb/aircraft-accident-reports/AAR68-AL.pdf

National Transportation Safety Board. (1969, June 19). Aircraft accident report: Braniff

Airways, Inc., Lockheed L-188, N9707C, near Dawson, Texas, May 3, 1968. Retrieved from http://libraryonline.erau.edu/online-full-text/ntsb/aircraft-accident-reports/AAR69-03.pdf

National Transportation Safety Board. (1972, May 24). Aircraft accident report: Pan American

World Airways, Inc., Boeing 747, N747PA, flight 845, San Francisco, California, July 30, 1971. Retrieved from http://libraryonline.erau.edu/online-full-text/ntsb/aircraft-accident-reports/AAR72-17.pdf

Newman, D. (2008, Winter). Condor II – the story of American Airlines NC-12363. REPArtee –

The Retired Eastern Pilots Association Magazine.

Professional Airline Flight Control Association – UAL. (n.d.). History of Airline Operational

Control. Retrieved from https://pafca-ual.org/dispatch/history/

Plane & Pilot. (2009, May 1). Boeing 707. Retrieved from http://www.planeandpilotmag.com/

article/boeing-707/

Plane & Pilot. (2009, June 1). Boeing 747. Retrieved from http://www.planeandpilotmag.com/

article/boeing-747/

Plane & Pilot. (2009, June 1). Douglas DC-8. Retrieved from

http://www.planeandpilotmag.com/Article/douglas-dc-8/

PlaneCrashInfo.com. (n.d.). Accident database. Retrieved from http://www.planecrashinfo.com/

database.htm

Twogood, A. P. (Writer) & Vocational Guidance Films, Inc. (Producer). (1947). Your life work

series: Air transportation [Video file]. (Available from the Prelinger Archives, PO Box 590622, San Francisco, CA 94159-0622) Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/Air

Trans1947

Rimson, I. J. (1998, October 20). Investigating “causes.” In The Investigation Process Research

Resource Site. Retrieved from http://www.iprr.org/papers/98ijrcause.html

Rumerman, J. (n.d.). Commercial flight in the 1930s. Retrieved from

https://www.centennialofflight.net/essay/Commercial_Aviation/passenger_xperience/Tran2.htm

Serling, R. J. (1969). Loud & clear. Dell Publishing Co., Inc.

Serling, R. J. (1983). Howard Hughes’ airline: An informal history of TWA. St.

Martin’s/Marek.

Stringer, D. H. (2015, October). Non-skeds: the story of America’s supplemental airlines part 1.

Airways Magazine.

Stroud, J. (1977). Airlines and airliners. In Mondey, D. (Ed.), The international encyclopedia of

aviation (pp. 228-289). Crown Publishers.

United States Department of Transportation. (2023). Investigations of aircraft accidents 1934-

[Data set]. Repository & Open Science Access Portal. https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/collection_iaa

Willets, H. N. (1931, March). Aircraft communication. The Pilot Magazine, 4(3), 8–9, 48.

Zhang, B. (2016, February 10). The Boeing 747 jumbo jet changed air travel with this

momentous event 47 years ago. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/boeing-747-first-flight-47years-ago-2016-2