The term - Fixed Base Operator or FBO- is a relevant one in the field of aviation. These are commercial businesses that work in private capacity and offer services to many customers at an airport providing various services. Over the years the role of fixed base operators has extended to multiple dimensions and they often offer services related to ‘below wing’ and ‘above wing’ operations. In North America and parts of Europe, fixed base operators do much more than just provide services at the airport. Below is a quick summary of their services. |
As previously mentioned, the role of fixed base operator companies differs drastically in different parts of the globe. They can be involved in offering services for a number of airport customers at the same airport, and their clients are usually all general aviation aircraft, commercial and freight operators, and their customers. The core services an FBO provides is the handling, fueling and hangaring of general aviation aircraft. The FBO also provides terminals for arriving and departing passengers, flight planning for air crews, and other related services. FBO also can offer ancillary services for general aviation including de-icing services, catering, and arranging ground transportation. Some FBOs provide technical services such as aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) or private Aircraft Charter and Management (ACM). Additionally, some FBOs provide services for the commercial airline carriers at an airport.
Why FBOs are important?
FBOs are important because they provide all of the necessary services for general aviation aircraft at an airport. These services are relied upon the general aviation community at over 3,000 airports in North America and all over the world. General Aviation is broadly defined as all aviation operations other than commercial (Part 121 in the United States) and military. FBOs, however, often also offer services to commercial and military airport. Every airport needs a local presence to provide core services of aircraft handling, fueling and hangering of aircraft. An FBO may also take on some of the specific tasks of the airport sponsor, such as maintenance and upkeep of the airport infrastructure, help with airport communications and providing relevant data to the FAA.
When it comes to working with a fixed base operator, nothing matters more than experience. FBO management companies who have deep experience in not only the core line service functions but also additional services such as MRO and ACM have the most capabilities to address local demand at an airport. The same holds true for geographical diversification—an FBO management company with experience operating a chain or network of locations across a geographically diverse are can bring a wealth of industry leading best practices to a new market. When evaluating FBO management companies, be sure to ask for references, at least some of which should be from airport sponsors on which the company has operated. If you need assistance, consider engaging an experienced aviation consultant to help you with your evaluation.
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