What is a Private Aviation FBO?

Private Aviation FBO

FBO is short for Fixed-Base Operator. In simplest terms, they are private jet terminals. When you book a private charter flight, your broker or operator will typically advise you which FBO your flight will be departing from.

An FBO is a fixed-base operator, which is a company that is given permission by an airport to operate on its premises to provide aeronautical services for aircraft, passengers, and crew. Generally, FBOs are the main providers of services in general aviation, or for private and recreational flying. They’re usually found at public airports but can sometimes be found in a property next to the airport. FBOs at larger or higher-traffic airports are usually private companies. At smaller airports, FBOs are sometimes run by the local government.

Fixed-Base Operators offer a lounge for passengers departing and arriving on private aviation flights at that airport. However, their principal revenue source is gas stations for private aircrafts.

They provide crew lounges, weather and flight planning assistance, and some facilities at major international airports even offering sleep rooms and showers. Some FBOs also have hangars and office space. Some also provide maintenance, management for aircraft owners, and charter services. Charter brokers and other related businesses serving business aviation often lease office space, the former so they can meet and greet local clients.

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How FBO’s Benefit You?
The amenities available for passengers depends on the size and traffic of the airport. Smaller, less busy airports may offer only basic amenities, while larger airports with more traffic may be able to offer more. FBOs usually offer restroom facilities, waiting rooms, and communications services. Larger airports can offer additional amenities, including restaurants and food vending, ground transportation, concierge services, in-flight catering, accommodations, shops selling aviation supplies, lounges, and showers.

Customer facilities on offer in most FBOs include WiFi; light refreshments; and bathroom facilities. Larger or more specialised FBOs also offer luxury concierge, conference and hotel rooms for customers who choose to spend more time there; and services for passengers travelling with families or pets.

More importantly, FBO’s save you time. One of the benefits of flying private is that you don’t have to wait in long security lines like you would have to at a commercial airport. For the safety of crew and passengers, there is still security, but it’s fast and unobtrusive. For private aviation passengers, a pre-clearance has already been conducted, so the time spent at security is minimal.

Features vary from FBO to FBO, many private aviation travelers will quickly develop a preference in which they would use-- which can be specified when booking a flight.

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Where can I find an FBO?
There are a few thousand FBOs around the world, and it’s becoming a very dynamic and evolving market. Most customers would recognize the leaders in the space: Signature Flight Support and Atlantic Aviation. But smaller, independent FBOs offer many of the same, if not more, services to their clients. Many airports feature several FBOs on the field. FBOs can be found at all sizes of airport terminals. The size of the airport terminal determines the number of services and amenities that can be offered, however. Larger airports have both more space with which to provide services and more passengers and crew to provide services for. FBOs are meant to service private aircraft and charter companies and so will only be located at airports that offer private aviation services. Often private and commercial airports are completely separate, but some commercial airports may have private terminals with FBOs.

A Fixed Base Operator (FBO) is essential in the world of private aviation, providing a range of services to enhance your travel experience. When you book a private jet charter, the FBO offers amenities such as fueling, hangaring, and concierge services, ensuring a seamless and luxurious journey from start to finish. Understanding the role of an FBO can significantly enhance your private jet charter experience.

For those with a Pilatus jet card, FBOs offer seamless support, from luxurious lounges to efficient handling of your aircraft. Leveraging FBO services enhances the convenience and comfort of traveling with a Pilatus jet card. Don’t know much about FBO’s or your preference? Perhaps you’re a new member? That’s completely fine! Let your Lifestyle Experience Coordinator help you decide! They’ll make the determination and often have a preference themselves.

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History of FBO’s After the end of World War I in November 1918, civil aviation in the United States was primarily unregulated and was primarily made up of "barnstormers," who were transient pilots flying inexpensive military surplus aircraft from city to city, often landing in farm fields on the outskirts of a town because airports were scarce at that time. These traveling aviators offered airplane rides and aerobatic flight demonstrations, and they frequently collaborated as "flying circuses" and performed impromptu airshows for the townsfolk, charging whatever the local economic conditions would allow. As a result, mechanics and early flight instructors moved around with the aircraft and had no established business in any one location.

With passage of the Air Commerce Act of 1926 and its resulting requirements for the licensing of pilots, aircraft maintenance requirements, and regulations in training standards, the transient nature of civil aviation was curtailed. The pilots and mechanics who made their living on the road began establishing permanent businesses, termed fixed-base operations, at the growing number of airports appearing throughout the United States as a way to distinguish permanent businesses from the transient businesses common prior to 1926.

Within the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates some activities that may comprise an FBO such as the authorization or repair stations, flight training, and air taxi/air carrier services, but the overarching term "FBO" has no regulatory standards through the federal government. That said, the FAA has defined an FBO as "a commercial entity providing aeronautical services such as fueling, maintenance, storage, ground and flight instruction, etc., to the public.”

FBO’s Today
The United States Department of Transportation, in cooperation with the FAA, has the duty of establishing minimum standards for commercial aeronautical activities and recommends implementation of these standards by the airport operator or agency, commonly referred to as the airport sponsor.The United States FBO Industry is represented nationally by the National Air Transportation Association or NATA, but is also partly represented by both the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).

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