Aircraft Dispatcher

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ACDP Incident Position Description

The Aircraft Dispatcher (ACDP) is responsible for mobilizing aviation resources to wildfires and other incidents. The ACDP reports to the Dispatch Center Manager, floor supervisor, or desk lead, and works in the Dispatch functional area.
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Prepare and Mobilize

  • Ensure individual readiness.
  • Gather critical information pertinent to the assignment.
  • Travel to and check in at assignment.
  • Check in with incident supervisor and/or dispatch when arriving at the incident.
  • Obtain briefing from previous shift/assignment position as necessary.
  • Review Incident Action Plan (IAP), if applicable, and obtain briefing, objectives, and intent from supervisor.

Build the Team

  • Establish and communicate chain of command, reporting procedures, risk management processes, and radio frequency management.
  • Establish a common operating picture with supervisors and subordinates.
  • Participate in operational briefings as directed.
  • Identify assigned resources and maintain accountability.

Lead, Supervise, Direct

  • Identify, analyze, and use relevant situational information to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions.
  • Oversee other dispatchers in planning flight schedules, dispatching aircraft, flight following aircraft, and frequency management, if applicable.

Perform Aircraft Dispatcher-Specific Duties

  • Perform duties in accordance with local, geographic area, and national policies, standards, procedures, and guides.
  • Review and follow local dispatch standard operating procedures and use standard terminology, symbols, designators, and acronyms.
  • Use computer aided dispatch and appropriate resource ordering systems following local protocols.
  • Utilize dispatch telecommunications equipment.
  • Use and interpret topographic maps to plot locations.
  • Conduct briefings with relief dispatchers.
  • Utilize current and appropriate incident business management concepts.
  • Recognize and identify resource shortages.
  • Use local and national dispatch protocol to process off-unit requests.
  • Support local office operations in providing and coordinating logistical support for initial and extended attack.
  • Establish, display, and maintain current aviation resource status.
  • Know tactical aircraft types and capabilities.
  • Apply aviation management policies and practices to aviation operations and aircraft dispatching.
  • Coordinate aviation activities:
    • Relay aviation activities and status updates to supervisor, pilots, agency personnel, and appropriate base(s) of operation.
    • Coordinate smokejumpers, helitack, airtankers, and aerial supervision modules in addition to detection aircraft.
    • Mobilize tactical air resources to an incident using established ordering procedures.
    • Determine appropriate aircraft for mission based on flight request information, mission requirement, locations, special circumstances, availability, and cost effectiveness. Complete a cost comparison if necessary.
    • Process a flight request into a flight schedule.
    • Plan and implement flight following procedures according to agency requirements. Determine check in times and relay flight itinerary as appropriate.
    • Notify incident/dispatch centers of aircraft estimated time of arrival (ETA)/estimated time of departure (ETD).
    • Monitor flight status continuously for all aircraft in flight and ensure aircraft pilots are aware of each other, weather conditions and potential hazards.
    • Confirm aircraft is safely on the ground at final destination.
    • Relay incident information and reload bases to responding aircraft.
    • Monitor, prioritize, and coordinate radio traffic involving multiple frequencies.
    • Identify flight hazards from hazard maps or software and communicate hazards to responding aircraft.
    • Brief aircraft manager(s) and/or pilot(s) on flight mission, known hazards, and frequencies.
    • Mobilize aircraft for logistical missions.
  • Support aviation flight operations:
    • Process specific types of aircraft orders including infrared requests, radio frequencies, and portable Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) towers.
    • Follow national and local procedures for using contracted Call When Needed (CWN) aircraft to fill orders.
    • Provide daily data on number of gallons of retardant dropped and aircraft costs.
    • Monitor and/or track flight hours and report to appropriate personnel.
    • Inform other dispatch centers and the Geographic Area Coordination Center (GACC) of tactical aircraft availability.
    • Complete Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) form and create resource order. Immediately notify FAA, Regional Airspace Coordinator, and military of TFR intrusions.
    • Coordinate with military on the use of airspace in Military Operations Areas (MOAs) and affected Military Training Routes (MTRs).
    • Coordinate incident infrared flight requests.
    • Coordinate and order radio frequencies as needed, including air-to-air and air-to-ground.
    • Operate transmitters and repeaters to provide communication to aircraft and incidents.
    • Ensure aircraft and pilots are carded and meet all agency, Department of the Interior, and Office of Aviation Service (OAS) requirements for the appropriate mission.
    • Determine and assign financial codes for aircraft fueling and flight time.

Communicate and Coordinate

  • Follow established processes and chain of command for collecting, producing, and distributing information.
  • Ensure clear understanding of expectations and timely communication within and across Incident Command System (ICS) functional areas and chain of command.
  • Establish communications and exchange necessary briefings/information with the following:
    • Support resources.
    • Adjacent resources/other dispatchers.
    • Supervisor.
    • Other ICS functional areas.
  • Communicate effectively using multichannel radios. Prepare and program radios for assignment. Use plain language and ICS terminology.
  • Conduct and/or participate in After Action Reviews (AAR).

Manage Risk

  • Apply the Risk Management Process as stated in the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461:
    • Identify Hazards.
    • Assess Hazards.
    • Develop Controls and Make Risk Decisions.
    • Implement Controls.
    • Supervise and Evaluate.
  • Locate emergency guides and plans such as search and rescue, continuity of operations, hazardous materials, and others. Identify responsibilities for activation of these varied emergency plans and ensure that assigned resources are prepared to execute the emergency plans.
  • Monitor for signs and symptoms of fatigue, illness, or injury. Mitigate appropriately.
  • Account for location, health, safety, and welfare of assigned personnel.
  • Ensure a flight manager is assigned for all mission flights to meet agency policy.


  • Complete, authorize, ensure timeliness of, and route as required:
    • Shift briefings.
    • Dispatch logs.
    • Initial incident reports.
    • Flight requests/flight plans.
    • NWCG Passenger/Crew and Cargo Manifest, PMS 245.
    • Resource orders.
    • Procurement documents.
    • SAFECOM.
    • SAFENET.
    • Agency-specific forms.
    • Incident Time Report, OF-288.


  • Anticipate demobilization, identify excess resources, coordinate with operations to prepare demobilization schedule, and communicate with supervisor.
  • Plan for demobilization. Brief assigned resources on demobilization procedures and responsibilities. Ensure incident and agency demobilization procedures and work/rest driving standards are followed.
  • Complete demobilization checkout process before being released from the incident.
  • Upon demobilization, report status to home unit including reassignment or ETA to home unit.




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