Following a talk I gave at NASA Ames Research Center on modeling remote operations centers managing fleets of emergent aircraft, I was invited to visit a large commercial airline operations center that manages flights around the world. I collaborated with a postdoc in my lab to gather empirical data. We spent 4 days and nights immersed in the operations across different shifts and different dispatcher desks. We learned a lot and even encountered a situation in which the dispatcher on duty had to divert flights around a SpaceX launch off the coast of Florida! I am so thankful for this opportunity and that we could present some of our results at the HFES annual meeting.
Equipped with technology, airline dispatchers interact with multiple entities to maximize the safety and efficiency of flights. How well the overall airline system performs is influenced by dispatchers’ workload. In order to assist future work in developing advanced automated technologies to assist dispatchers, particularly under high-workload periods, this paper presents an analysis of airline dispatchers’ tasks in a large operations control center. This is an important step in developing airline dispatcher workload simulations and other analytical approaches that assist in staffing of operations for dynamic operations, as well as estimating the impact of new technology on dispatchers’ workload.