Everything You Need to Know About Fixed Base Operators

Charlotte Miller

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Are you among the 9% of frequent flyers who intend to try private aviation soon? While researching this topic, you’ve probably heard the term, ‘fixed base operator’.

Fixed base operators are private entities operating from public airports. They take care of important day-to-day operations at these locations.

Although fixed base operators don’t deal exclusively with private jets, they play a major role in their operations. Find out how fixed base operators add a little extra to every airport visit.

What Is a Fixed Base Operator?

FBOs originated with the post-war ‘barnstormers’ who spent their time flying military aircraft from town to town. Nowadays, they play a more permanent role in the field of aviation.

A fixed base operator is where private jets go between flights. They’re a place where these aircraft undergo routine aviation regulation checks and maintenance to prepare for their next trip.

At smaller airports, the FBO is often in charge of seeing to all the needs of the aircraft and crew and preparing them for departure. 

Most airport FBO’s operate as part of commercial airports. That is, they use the same runways and flight towers. Apart from that, they operate independently.

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Who Uses Fixed Base Operators?

Not everyone who owns a private jet can afford to keep it in their backyard. They need a central location to store the aircraft and make sure it gets the care it needs between flights.

These people use FBOs as a convenient and central place to store their jets when not in use, and as a jumping-off point for their next flight.

Likewise, operators who hire private jets to the public, need a home base. FBO’s provide a place to pick up and drop off their clients, away from the bustle of the commercial terminals. 

Larger aircraft also make use of FBOs for a range of services including refueling, maintenance, and more. 

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What Do Airport FBO’s Offer?

There’s a lot more to fixed base operations than storage and maintenance though. 

Many of these aviation enterprises provide a host of facilities that commercial terminals simply can’t match. 

Some of the bells and whistles available via the best fixed base operators include:

  • Competent professional services to meet the airplane and service it
  • High-quality lobbies, lounges, conference rooms, and ground transportation
  • Refreshments on tap
  • Lounges, flight planning facilities for pilots
  • Showers, snooze rooms, vehicles, and recreation facilities for crew members
  • Professional, service-oriented concierge facilities 

As a passenger traveling by private jet via an FBO, you won’t experience many inconveniences associated with commercial flights. Yet, you can’t escape stringent security checks when you travel via a fixed base operator, although in a slightly different format. 

Behind the Scenes Basics

Now that you know a little more about the mysterious world of fixed base operators, you can better understand the vital role they play in keeping an airport operational. 

Without these essential services, like fueling, parking, aircraft maintenance, aircraft rental, and even flight instruction, commercial airports could never function at an optimum.

Are you curious to discover more about little-known topics? Browse our blog for all the best information about the things you sometimes wonder about.