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NetJets Reduces Safety Role of FAA-licensed Dispatchers in Flight Operations


Teamsters Local 284 Flight Dispatchers Sound Alarm Over NetJets Automation

Press Contact: Mark Vandak Phone: (614) 228-0727

(Columbus, OH) – Flight dispatchers represented by Teamsters Local 284 in Columbus, Ohio, are ringing alarm bells over NetJets Aviation’s (NJA) plan to scale back commitments to passengers, pilots, and flight attendants that FAA-licensed dispatchers must approve all flight departures.

NJA, the luxury business jet company owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, operates a fleet of more than 600 aircraft, conducting more than 300,000 flights annually to more than 2,000 airports. Yet NJA only dedicates 54 FAA-licensed dispatchers to handle flights while operating in the U.S.’s complex air transportation system. Flight dispatchers play a vital safety role at air carriers around the world.

NetJets previously made clear on its corporate website that “as an extra safety precaution, no flight leaves without the approval of both our pilots and our Federal Aviation Administration-licensed dispatchers.” After NetJets implemented a new automated system this week, dispatchers have revealed that some flights will be released without a human dispatcher first conducting a pre-flight check or review in violation of NJA’s labor contract.

“Reducing the critical role of FAA-licensed human dispatchers through their automated system eliminates the “extra safety precaution” on impacted flights. It’s a very bad idea,” said Fred Larkins, an NJA dispatcher.  “NetJets passengers likely believe they get the same level of safety support from human dispatchers on their flights as passengers on any commercial airline — if not more given what they pay for luxury travel — but that’s not the case. Dispatchers oppose all efforts to reduce our role in upholding the safety of flight operations.”

The dispatcher’s union filed a grievance over the issue. Local 284 remains ready to negotiate a resolution that ensures dispatchers will continue to conduct pre-flight checks and reviews and approve all flight departures. 

“NetJets will likely defend its decision by stating that their new automated system meets minimum standards, but that misses the point,” said Brenden Robinson, an NJA dispatcher.  “In the past, NetJets routinely committed that a human dispatcher would approve every flight for departure. There is no reason to scale back on those safety commitments as the company’s fleet and operations grow. We should be adding more dispatchers and doubling down on that safety commitment, not reducing the role of human dispatchers.”

Dispatchers are meeting with NJA pilot and flight attendant union representatives to discuss shared concerns about the company’s plan to reduce the role of human flight dispatchers.

Teamsters Local 284 is based in Columbus, Ohio, and represents NJA dispatchers, flight attendants, maintenance employees and stock clerks.