Prior to joining Piedmont Airlines, Dispatch Coordinator Kevin Driscoll had only flown once, didn’t have an interest in airplanes and wasn’t an aviation enthusiast. He was a retired correctional officer seeking a new career where he could utilize his problem-solving and communication skills in a fast-paced environment. Kevin joined Piedmont as a crew scheduler and even though he had no prior aviation knowledge or background, found a solid career path at Piedmont. After gaining valuable experience as a crew scheduler, Kevin decided to advance his career and work in the heart of the operation.
“I love my job and made the right decision to become a dispatcher,” shares Kevin. Dispatchers are responsible for planning and monitoring the progress of an aircraft journey using software tools and advising the flight crew of any circumstances that might affect flight safety. “To put it simply, dispatchers ensure planes have plenty of fuel to get to their destination, monitor the weather, and communicate with captains to make sure our customers get where they need to go safely without delays or cancellations.”
Originally from Salisbury, Maryland, where Piedmont’s headquarters is located, Kevin knew little about the scale of Piedmont’s operation in his hometown. “I knew that Piedmont Airlines flew planes from our local airport but had no idea about the other airline operations that were located here,” said Kevin. “I was surprised to learn the airline’s Operations Control Center and one of their maintenance bases operated in Salisbury. Even though I was unfamiliar with the aviation industry, I applied for a crew scheduler position because it sounded like I might be a good fit.” Crew schedulers are responsible for communicating with crew members to provide guidance and answer their questions and ensuring adequate crew staffing on the aircraft to meet our operational needs.
After two years working in crew scheduling and training new team members, Kevin approached Jerry Nowak, Senior Manager of Flight Operations to express interest in becoming a dispatcher. “I shared with Jerry that since joining Piedmont, I had learned a lot about airline operations and wanted to progress my career.” In 2020, Kevin received a company-paid scholarship to attend Sheffield School of Aeronautics in Florida for five-weeks of training to obtain his dispatch certificate. Due to the airline schedule reduction during the COVID pandemic, Kevin returned to work in the scheduling department until March 2021.
“Becoming a dispatcher connected more of the pieces to the operation,” shares Kevin. “For example, I enjoy being able to build flight routes when severe weather occurs and speaking with the captain to help navigate around a storm. Our crew members appreciate the assistance from dispatchers who are watching their journey on the ground and can help troubleshoot. There is a real sense of satisfaction when the flights I assist are able to land safely with no or minimal disruption to service.” Kevin also says that it is great to get planes out on time, but the most important thing is getting customers to their destination safely.
He encourages team members who are interested in learning more about the operation to consider becoming a flight dispatcher. “If you are good at planning ahead, have good communication skills, and are a good problem-solver, dispatching may be a good job for you.” A pre-requisite to the dispatch certification process is to pass the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Dispatcher (ADX) test and Kevin advises those taking it to not get discouraged by the quantity or content of the questions.
Since becoming a dispatcher, Kevin was recently promoted to a Dispatch Coordinator position. “There’s plenty of room for advancement at Piedmont, you just have to seek the opportunity.”
Kevin lives in Salisbury and although he grew up here, enjoys the small-town feel of his community. “Salisbury is a larger city for the area but even living in town, it doesn’t feel like a city,” shares Kevin. “I have a yard for my daughter to play in and major grocery stores and shopping centers are a short drive away.” Kevin enjoys visiting the beach in Ocean City, Maryland with his family which is a 30-minute drive from Salisbury.