Airport Answers: What Does Fixed Base Operator Mean?

Republic Jet Center North at KFRG 3

According to one study, 75% of airports in the country that have more than 3,000 feet of the runway have one fixed base operator (FBO) attached.

But what is a fixed base operator? And what makes it different from your standard public airport? 

Keep reading to find out what it is and all the benefits you can enjoy while using one!

What Is It?

First off, Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) are what people use to call commercial enterprises. The public airports told these enterprises that they are allowed to operate at that airport.

While they operate at that airport, they’ll also be able to give aviation services. This might include parking, hangar space for private jets, and refueling. They can make this available to the General Aviation community if they want. 

You can normally find FBOs in large cities with larger airports. If you’re in a small city, you likely only have one small airport, and most of the services there will be provided by the actual airport. 

So if you’re a private jet customer who is going to an FBO, you will get to enjoy a separate set of buildings that the general public doesn’t use. This means that you’ll be able to avoid any queues or crowds and go straight to the FBO. 

It operates kind of as a terminal for private jets; however, it can be used for all kinds of things. But since fewer people normally use it, the facilities and service are actually nicer and quicker. 

Who Owns the FBO?

Normally an airport will be owned by the city or government, and then they’ll lease out the business space to private companies. So FBOs are normally owned by a private company, but they are renting the space from the airport. 

However, there are a few airports that are owned by the government and also manage the FBOs that are on-site. These are rare though. 

You can find chains of FBOs all over the world, with some of them offering between fifty to two hundred locations in all kinds of different continents. 

How Long Have They Been Around?

This might be the first time that you’re hearing of an FBO, but they’ve actually been around for a while. In fact, the concept of them has even gone back to World War I. 

Airports and aviation, in general, weren’t as regulated then, so some towns didn’t have anywhere for pilots to land. Instead, they’d land in a local field, teach lessons there, and try and make money so they could keep flying. 

However, in 1926, the United States government passed the Air Commerce Act. This made rules so that anyone flying a plane had to have the proper license and make sure the right maintenance was done on their aircraft. 

Now that pilots had to be trained through certain institutions, a lot of the existing ones settled down and started small businesses, which became FBOs. These FBOs were different from the public airports, and it became a way to distinguish between who was an old pilot before 1926, and who was a new pilot after 1926. 

What Services Do They Offer?

An FBO can offer a wide range of services, so you should make sure that you check their website before you head to their site. 

For example, some of them may sell fuel for certain aircraft. Some of them may offer different kinds of parking for your aircraft, sometimes it can also be in a hanger. 

They can also maintain or repair your aircraft if they have the right tools and licensure. 

Inside the building, there are normally vending machines, small restaurants or cafes, and clean restrooms. 

If you’re a passenger, they’ll be able to provide security checks, handle your bags, and take care of any other ground transportation you might need. 

Do You Still Have to Go Through Security?

Some people think that because this is a separate area of the airport, they won’t have to go through security to get on their plane. And while it might not be the same as the TSA line with all of the other passengers who are flying on commercial airlines, you will have to deal with security.

At an FBO, the pilot and the crew will have specific training and use their judgment for each passenger. This skips the TSA line, but it will also make sure that you and everyone else on your jet are safe as well. 

But that’s only for domestic flights. When flying internationally, you’ll have to go through a customs process as well. If you do a security check before you fly, then it’ll help to streamline the customs process a lot quicker, which is one of the great benefits of flying with an FBO. 

How Do You Find an FBO?

If you’re interested in finding an FBO, you won’t have to look very far. 

If you try and book a jet charter flight on a private jet, you can look at the address of the airport. This should tell you where the FBO is. Each airport only has one FBO, so check your local airport and see if they have one. 

This will let you be able to compare different businesses and find which one you want to book with!

Learn More About a Fixed Base Operator

These are only a few things to know about a fixed base operator, but there are many more interesting facts you should know!

If this sounds interesting to you, you might want to find an FBO near you that will fit all of your needs.

If you’re interested in learning more or finding out what we offer, make sure you contact us today!

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