Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV reports that women are taking their first steps into a new category of work: Flight Dispatcher. This is not the same the same job as Flight Controller. Instead, it involves the planning of flight paths prior to take-off, but includes monitoring of those flights. This is a high-stress job concerned with the safety of the flight and requires the person doing it to understand the aircraft and its capabilities, weather conditions, loading of the aircraft, etc. It’s not a make-work occupation at all.
While only one Saudi woman has passed her licensing exam, several other are waiting to be tested. Of course, this being Saudi Arabia, the female dispatchers will have to work from separate facilities at the airports. This is an added expense, but one the Saudi government appears to be willing to subsidize. In terms of social progress, this does represent a small step forward, with a large sideways component.
Aisha Jaafari has become the first Saudi female to attain an aircraft dispatcher license, after passing the General Authority for Civil Aviation exams.
Eight other Saudi women have been trained and are taking their final exam, reported Saudi daily Al-Iktisadiya.
An aircraft dispatcher plans flight paths for pilots after gathering and studying technical data.
“My love and passion for aviation pushed me to attain this license,” Jaafari said. However, she added that she will not be going out on the field and will perform her duties in a “suitable environment.”
Khaled al-Khobeiri, spokesperson for the General Authority for Civil Aviation, said: “Aisha and her friends will work in a separated, well-equipped environment to aid the pilot by providing him with all necessary information before he takes off.”