A Fixed Base Operator (FBO) provides essential services for private and charter planes around the world. Choosing the right FBO for your aircraft can be tricky, particularly if you're not aware of every option. Discover how the right FBO can make a difference to the enjoyment and management of your fleet.
The term itself originated out of the USA towards the end of the first World War. At this time, civil aviation was largely unregulated. You may have heard of the term 'Barnstormers’. This referred to transient pilots, many ex-military, that operated surplus military aircraft for civil aviation and charter flights.
In 1918 airports were scarce. Farmers fields became airstrips as these Barnstormers went from city to town offering up flights, demonstrations, and airshows. Kind of like a travelling circus and mass transit system combined in one.
To keep the pilots and aircraft in the air, mechanics would need to travel with them. And while this ingenious use of military surplus helped create the aircraft industry as we know it today, the transient nature of pilots, mechanics, and aircraft couldn't be sustained in the long term.
In 1926 the USA introduced the Air Commerce Act, which outlined a number of regulations for pilots, aircraft, and mechanics. As a result pilots and crew began establishing fixed bases at preferred airstrips. The Fixed Base Operator was born.
FBOs ensure the smooth operation of private aircraft at airports. Choosing the right FBO means taking into account a number of factors:
Airports are busy places, the day to day running of any given space involves a complex coordination of government regulations, customer needs, and business requirements. Competition is high, both within the airport and between airports. Navigating these complex issues isn't easy, which is why great customer service is essential for any FBO.
Can your FBO meet the demands you require? They might include:
FBOs provide refueling options for your aircraft, the price of which can vary not only between airports, but between operators as well. Airnav.com and Acukwik.com can can help you check up to date fuel prices, and you can also try negotiating better prices with FBOs based on other services, rebates, waivers or loyalty programs.
Food options run a wide gamut, from complimentary coffee and snack bars to table service restaurants. Luxury food options can provide unique experiences for guests, such as a runway view while eating.
A happy crew is essential to the smooth operation of your aircraft. Crew are most likely to stay close to the airport during downtime, so an FBO that provides quality services can keep crew in the right frame of mind during longer hauls or downtime.
Essential for safe storage of your aircraft both in the short and long term, as well as compliance with local regulations.
ACM provides additional services to aircraft owners with the management of charter services. ACM is the best way to deliver return on investment for aircraft owners that don't require strict 365 day-a-year access to your fleet.
Ongoing aircraft usage requires regular maintenance and repairs. As these are essential to the smooth running of your operation, it's important to choose an FBO with a history of quality maintenance.
The right FBO will likely have associations at other airports both international and domestic. These associations come in two basic categories:
Common routes or strategic business outcomes can help you decide which FBO is right for you. After all, more associations means more options for continued ease of travel.
Costs obviously matter, but should be considered within the overarching scheme of what you're trying to achieve with your FBO agreement. Low costs might seem attractive, but if their service is less than adequate, it could be detrimental to a letter strategy, particularly if you're considering ACM.
In the private aircraft industry nothing counts like a history of expertise. Regardless of your specific needs, always choose an FBO with a proven track record on quality delivery and customer service. That way, you'll ensure a smooth running operation flight after flight.