While it’s a comparatively small industry, FBO services play a vital role for airplanes and passengers across the USA and employ almost 73 000 people.
What is an FBO, though, and can they add value to your travels? When you book a charter flight, or if you own a plane, you’re almost certain to use the services of an FBO at some stage.
These service providers take care of your every need to a greater or lesser degree. Take a look at what’s on offer to help you in choosing an FBO service that suits your requirements.
Types of FBOs
An FBO, or fixed-base operator, is a private jet terminal that offers various services to aircraft owners, pilots, and passengers involved in charter flights. Most major airports have one or more FBOs on their premises.
FBOs fit into three main categories, as follows:
These are the largest type of FBOs with a revenue of over $25 million per annum. They usually offer a full range of FBO service options including hangar space, facilities, and fuel.
They often have facilities to maintain and repair turbine aircraft and have OEM-certified aircraft service centers.
Tier Two FBOs generate between $10 and $25 million per year and also offer the full range of services provided by Tier One FBOs. They’re mainly used for specialized missions like geophysical or medevac purposes.
This tier includes the smallest, most common types of FBOs earning less than $10 million every year. They’re mainly focused on fuel, hangar, and facility services for piston and turboprop airplanes.
Most flight schools and aircraft rental outlets have their base at tier three FBOs.
Aircraft Services Provided by FBOs
Although they first came about to ensure passengers of good quality service, FBOs soon evolved into a one-stop-shop for private jet travel.
Nowadays, they offer an extensive range of services for jet owners and their crews, including:
In between flights, you need somewhere safe to store your private plane. FBOs offer both private and communal, climate-controlled hangars to ensure your investment is safe with them.
They also offer tie-down facilities for shorter stays or parking bays for re-fueling purposes.
Many FBOs have rest areas for pilots and flight crews.
These include restrooms, flight planning rooms, meals, and comfortable lounges. Some even offer car rentals and accommodation options for these vital team members.
Providing a place to refuel charter planes is the primary purpose of every FBO. These facilities ensure pilots can fill up and continue with their onward flight as quickly as possible.
These outlets offer a range of fuels to serve most types of private airplanes, including avgas for piston-powered engines and jet fuel for turbine engines.
As soon as the pilot lands their plane at an FBO, they can count on a team of highly trained mechanics to check for any technical or mechanical issues before they take off again.
There are also teams of cleaners on hand to make sure the plane is spick and span inside and out before the next batch of passengers arrives. This is particularly important in line with elevated hygiene standards for aircraft.
Maintenance and Repairs
Maintenance and repairs are among the most important airplane services offered by FBOs. These important services include:
- GPU servicing
- Aircraft oil changes
- Provision of aircraft parts
- Onsite tugs
- Potable water filling stations
- Lav cart services
- Aircraft deicing services
You must check whether an FBO carries out these duties according to FAA standards and regulations.
As a central hub of everything to do with private aircraft, it makes sense that some FBOs also assist with aircraft sales.
They can help you sell your jet to an interested party and if you’re in the market for a new jet, they’ll guide you in the right direction.
Many FBOs can manage every aspect of charter flights if you’re involved in this industry. They can facilitate bookings, manage fees and payments, and market your services to all the right people.
When you leave these challenging aspects to the experts, you’re assured of enjoying the profits resulting from hiring out your plane without all the hard work.
If you run a school of aviation, an FBO is an ideal place to keep your aircraft. These centrally-located portals are the perfect place to welcome your clients and ensure they’re comfortable before and after their lessons.
The Benefits of FBO Services for Airplane Owners
FBO services are the perfect fit for busy business owners who don’t want to worry about the day-to-day issues associated with owning an aircraft.
These services make business travel more luxurious, comfortable, and efficient for all concerned, but they also have other benefits, as follows:
Time is money no matter what industry you’re in. For a busy business owner, missed flights and delays at commercial airports are a disaster.
When you work with an established FBO, you know your plane is ready to go when you are. There’s no waiting around.
The convenience of having a repair and maintenance center onsite means it’s easier to stay up to date with your airplane’s maintenance needs. A well-maintained aircraft won’t break down, resulting in expensive repairs.
You’ll save money when you sign a long-term storage and maintenance contract with your FBO, too. Renting short-term storage for your plane is an expensive undertaking.
Increases Your Prestige
Sending a private jet to collect business associates is impressive on its own, but you’re bound to wow them more when you use an upscale FBO for the process.
An FBO helps impress your clients or potential business partners, putting them in the right frame of mind for favorable outcomes.
FBO services for Passengers
Private jet travelers looking for the ultimate luxury during their travels have much to gain from an FBO. Apart from efficient, personalized service, FBOs also offer a range of luxury amenities to ensure you enjoy your trip.
They may offer some or all of the below amenities for passengers:
FBOs commonly offer shuttle services to anywhere you need to go. These may include chauffeur-driven limousines or luxury buses, depending on the size of your party.
On-site concierge services can assist with a wide range of services, from arranging car hire, calling a taxi, or booking accommodation on your behalf.
They can also advise on nearby facilities you might need during your stay in their area, like hotels, supermarkets, and even tourist attractions.
Lounges and Entertainment
If you need to wait for your onward transport, you can sink into a comfortable chair and watch a show while sipping on a warm or cold beverage.
Passenger lounges at FBOs offer every convenience while you wait, including games rooms to help you while away the time.
Are you traveling with pets? many FBOs are pet-friendly, so your family friend can stay with you in between flights. They also have comfortable places to confine your pets if necessary.
Restrooms are commonplace in airports, but FBOs take them to the next level. These luxury amenities offer showers and change rooms and luxurious decor and fitting to ensure a home-away-from-home experience.
Larger FBOs may have conference or meeting facilities on-site if you need to get together with business associates during flights. Some even have small restaurants in case you arrive at lunch or dinner time.
Complimentary Wi-Fi is standard at most FBOs nowadays. These FBOs also have all the equipment you need for a successful meeting on-site, or they can arrange to hire them for you.
Other Benefits of Using an FBO
Beyond amenities, an FBO can offer you a private, comfortable, and relaxed flying experience. You never have to worry about long lines, delays, and lost baggage when you fly private.
Top-level customer service is a given when you fly via an FBO. Dedicated personnel will see to your every need and answer all your questions.
Often, you can even meet your flight’s captain and co-pilot before takeoff.
FBOs only hire the most experienced and knowledgeable flight crews and pilots. Your skilled flight attendants are adept at providing food and beverage services of the highest order, catered according to your requirements.
In most cases, you can choose from a range of high-end in-flight menus, or arrange for catering according to your tastes.
With fewer passengers to focus on, these attendants dedicate all their time and attention to ensuring you’re comfortable and happy during your flight.
Can Passengers Choose an FBO?
Usually, the pilot or aircraft owner gets to decide on the FBO they use based on their needs and existing contracts.
Most FBOs offered by charter flights offer a good range of services for passengers, so it’s often best to go with the flow. That said, if you have specific requirements for your FBO, like nearby accommodation, you can request a switch.
You’ll have to pay an extra cost to arrange this change since it will cost the operator more. Ask about these costs and weigh them up against the benefits you’ll receive from the switch before you commit.
A Brief Guide to Maximizing Your FBO Experience
While you plan your flight, it’s best to iron out any questions you have in the process. These are some of the things to find out in advance if they apply to you:
Where Do I Check-In for My Flight?
FBO terminals are usually separate from the main airport buildings, so ask for directions before you arrive. Since there are fewer passengers involved, the check-in procedure is quick, easy, and personalized.
You don’t need to arrive hours in advance for a charter flight unless you want to relax for a while before take-off.
Where Do I Leave My Car?
Most FBOs have secure, complimentary parking for your vehicle. Some may even offer valet parking for added convenience.
In some cases, you can drive right up to your plane, hand over your car keys, and board the plane right away.
How Do Security and Baggage Checks Work?
There are no long lines involved when you use an FBO for your flights. All you need to do on arrival is present an agreed form of identification on arrival and you’re good to go.
On arrival, personnel will take your baggage and load it onto the plane for you, no questions asked.
What About Customs and Immigration?
Many larger FBOs offer customs and immigration services at their facility. If not, you’ll undergo the main airport’s customs and immigration process.
How Do You Switch Planes?
If you have an onward flight with a commercial airline, you should coordinate with your FBO so that the transfer goes smoothly. They will ensure you arrive in good time and arrange transport to help you get to your next flight quickly and comfortably.
Don’t waste your time trying to juggle all these aspects yourself. An FBO is in a better position to arrange it all for you.
We Cover All Your Needs at Republic Airport
Republic Jet Center is New York’s premier provider of FBO services from Republic Airport. We are members of the elite Signature Select flight network, which assures you of top-quality in all your dealings with us.
Thanks to our full range of FBO services, we have much to offer everyone involved in maintaining, flying, and traveling on charter air services.
Browse our website for more information, or get in touch for more answers.