FBO stands for a fixed base operation or fixed base operator. So what exactly is an FBO or a fixed base operator? They are your right hand when you are in corporate aviation, handling everything on the back end and making the flight attendants’ and the pilots’ jobs easy, and providing customer services to the passengers.
In general, they handle fueling, parking the aircraft, or putting your airplane in a hangar if you have an overnight. If you are flying and your plane has a mechanical problem, maintenance is available by an FBO.
Fixed base operators also offer VIP lounges to the passengers and a comfortable place to relax while the crew gets the airplane ready. Basically, an FBO does everything.
Furthermore, a fixed base operator is an organization granted the right by an airport to operate at the airport and provide aviation services such as hanging tie-down, fueling, parking aircraft, top maintenance, flight instruction, and similar activities.
In common practice, an FBO is the primary provider of support services to general aviation operators at a public-use airport. It is on land leased from the airport or, in rare cases, adjacent property as a “through the fence operation.”
A fixed based operator is an essential part of smooth flight operations. Today, we will summarize the different services they offer.
Services Provided to Airlines
Typically, an airport will be owned by the government or city, and then they’ll lease out the business space to private companies. So, FBOs are typically owned by a private company, but they are renting the space from the airport.
FBO provides integrated solutions to hundreds of airlines from around the world, including passenger handling operations, ramp services, cabin cleaning, ground handling, and spot services at international airports.
It ensures the on-time departure of all running flights with precession, accuracy, safety, and efficiency to minimize turnaround time.
FBOs deliver services at the highest possible quality and applies to every aspect of the business from cabin cleaning to baggage, ramp handling, passengers, cargo handling, and training.
FBOs also give basic airport, public access, and a steady, reliable supply of aviation fuel. Without this basic framework, general aviation would have fewer flying opportunities and more hurdles to our vital and shared mission of increasing the GA pilot population.
Moreover, FBOs compete vigorously with each other on service, price, and quality of facilities.
Major Services Provided
The fixed base operator provides two significant services:
- Ground Handling Services
- Field Operation Services
Ground Handling Services
Ground handling addresses the service requirements of a passenger aircraft between the time it arrives at the terminal gate and the time it goes on its next flight.
Efficiency, speed, and accuracy are critical in ground handling service in order to minimize the turnaround time (turnaround time is the time during which the aircraft must remain parked at the gate).
Cabin services include cleaning of passenger cabin and replenishment of onward consumable or washable items such as soft pillows, tissues, blankets, etc.
Catering services include the unloading of new drinks and food from the aircraft and the loading of fresh drinks and food for passengers and crew.
The Airline typically delivers meals in trolleys, and the freshman replaces the trash-filled trolleys from the previous flight. In order to reduce the amount of preparation required in the air, the airlines mostly prepare meals on the ground.
This includes services on the ramp or an apron, such as lavatory drainage and air-conditioning (more common for smaller aircraft).
Ramp services also include refueling, passenger stairs, air start unit, luggage handling, air cargo handling, catering trucks, de-icing, and ground power units.
It includes services inside the airport terminal, such as providing gate arrival, check-in counter, and departure services. The FBO agents are required to meet a flight on arrival as well as offer departure services, including boarding procedures, closing the flights, etc. It also includes staffing the transfer counters, staffing the customer service counters, airline lounges, etc.
A large part of FBO services is to provide a comfortable experience for its patrons. That’s why many FBOs support their customers with amenities like wireless internet, light refreshments, and bathroom facilities. Larger or more specialized FBOs offer luxury concierge, hotel rooms, and conference facilities—they want their customers to feel at home.
Field Operation Services
This service dispatches the aircraft, maintains communication with air traffic control, and the rest of the airline operation at the airport.
Services Provided to Customers
Many fixed-base operators provide much more than basic repairs and maintenance for their customers. Most of the FBOs also have a VIP lounge within the airport terminal, or it can involve a large facility built specifically for private jet usage offering a range of services for private jet customers, aircraft, and crew.
Crop-dusting taxi or car services, aerial pictures, and filming and baggage handling are some services FBOs might offer. Also, a Fixed Base Operator commonly has lounge facilities like restrooms, showers, and conference rooms. A number of them even provide food and drinks as well as a place to relax.
They are also great at arranging car rentals. If you have just day trips, they will give you a crew car. This way you can leave the airport for a little while. Get some fresh air, go to a restaurant and have a nice meal and not have to sit around in the FBO all day long. When passengers arrive, there is a screening process for them that is different than general airport security.
Most of them supply baggage services and security screening, and some have concierge services for passengers, pilots, and flight crews. So FBOs strive to bring top-quality maintenance facilities and conveniences for customers to make the air travel experience as pleasant and hassle-free as it can be.
Other common FBO services include maintenance of aircraft, sale of aircraft parts, aircraft rental and or sales, basic aircraft line services, aircraft charters, and aerial advertisements.