FBO stands for Fixed-Base Operator and refers to a specialised company authorised by an airport to operate within its facilities, delivering a wide range of aeronautical services catering to aircraft, passengers, and crew. FBOs are designed to cater for the needs of general aviation, encompassing private and recreational flying, however, they also welcome corporate aviation, cargo operations, and emergency or medical flights.
While FBOs are typically situated at public airports, they may occasionally establish their facilities adjacent to the airport premises. On the other hand, smaller airports typically have FBOs operated by local government entities.
Why do we call them FBOs?
We call them FBOs because they are aviation service providers located at fixed, permanent locations (typically airports) to provide a wide range of services to private and general aviation aircraft, as opposed to mobile or transient operators.
What services does an FBO provide?
Fixed-Base Operators (FBOs) offer a comprehensive range of services to cater to the needs of aviation clients but these will vary for every FBO. These services can include:
● Aircraft handling: Providing services like aircraft towing, parking, and marshalling to assist with arrivals and departures.
● Refuelling: Offering aviation fuels (such as aviation gasoline and jet fuel) and managing fueling operations.
● Passenger services: Ensuring a seamless experience for travellers, which may include passenger lounges, concierge services, and ground transportation arrangements.
● Crew services: Providing amenities and facilities for flight crews, including crew lounges, rest areas, and crew transportation.
● Customs and immigration assistance: Assisting with customs and immigration procedures for international flights, including document processing and compliance.
● Aircraft maintenance: Offering maintenance and repair services, including scheduled maintenance, inspections, and repairs to keep aircraft in optimal condition.
● Hangar space: Providing secure hangar facilities for aircraft storage, maintenance, repairs, and shelter from the elements.
● Aircraft catering: Arranging in-flight catering services, including meals and refreshments tailored to passenger and crew preferences.
● Ground transportation: Coordinating ground transportation options, such as rental cars, limousines, and taxis, for passengers and crew.
● Aircraft cleaning: Offering interior and exterior cleaning services to maintain the appearance and hygiene of aircraft.
● Flight planning and weather services: Assisting with flight planning, weather briefings, and navigation support to ensure safe and efficient flight operations.
● Aircraft charter and rental: Providing access to rental aircraft or charter services for customers in need of private air travel.
● Security services: Implementing security measures to protect aircraft, passengers, and facilities in accordance with aviation security standards.
● De-icing and anti-icing: Assisting with de-icing and anti-icing procedures during adverse weather conditions to ensure safe takeoffs and landings.
● Lavatory services: Managing waste disposal and sanitation services for aircraft restrooms.
● Flight support: Offering logistical support, including arranging ground transportation, accommodations, and other services for travellers.
● Emergency services: Providing air assistance during emergency situations, diversions, and medical evacuations.
● Cargo handling: Assisting with the handling, loading, and unloading of cargo and freight aircraft.
● Flight training: Offering flight training programmes and facilities for aspiring pilots.
Is there security at an FBO?
Security measures at Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) can vary depending on the specific location and the regulations in place. However, in general yes, FBOs do have security protocols in place to ensure the safety of passengers, crew, and aircraft. Common security procedures may include:
● Identification and documentation: Passengers typically need to provide government-issued identification, such as a passport or driver's licence, to verify their identity. Additionally, they may need to provide relevant travel documents, including visas for international flights.
● Security screening: Passengers might undergo security screening, including metal detectors and baggage checks, similar to commercial airline passengers, but the process is often faster and more streamlined.
● Aircraft manifest: Passengers' names are usually included on the aircraft manifest, which is a list of all individuals on the flight. This information is important for security and regulatory purposes.
● Customs and immigration: For international flights, passengers will need to clear customs and immigration at both the departure and arrival airports, complying with the regulations of the respective countries.
● Security checks for restricted items: Passengers may be subject to security checks to ensure they are not carrying prohibited or restricted items, such as weapons or hazardous materials.
● Verification of ownership or charter: In the case of privately-owned aircraft, passengers may need to provide documentation verifying their ownership or authorisation to use the aircraft. Charter passengers will have their charter arrangement confirmed.
● Background checks: In some cases, particularly for international flights, passengers may be subject to background checks or security vetting, especially if there are concerns related to national security.
● Access control: Access to the private jet and FBO facilities may be controlled to prevent unauthorised individuals from entering restricted areas.
Fortunately, flying with a private jet charter offers the advantage of bypassing the lengthy security lines commonly associated with commercial airports. While security measures remain in place for the safety of both crew and passengers, they are swift and inconspicuous. Private jet travellers benefit from a pre-clearance process, reducing the time required for security procedures to a minimum.
How do I find my closest FBO?
If the major commercial airport in your area does not have private terminals, chances are that the smaller regional airports in your area function as private airports. There are plenty of FBOs available across the world. To find your closest Fixed Base Operator (FBO), you can follow these steps:
● Use aviation apps or websites: Several aviation apps and websites provide information on FBOs and their locations. Some popular ones include AirNav (airnav.com), SkyVector (skyvector.com), ForeFlight (foreflight.com), and FlightAware (flightaware.com).
● Contact your local airport: If you know which airport is closest to you, you can contact the airport's operations or administration office. They can provide information about FBOs on the airport property or nearby.
● Ask your aircraft operator or charter service: If you're flying on a private jet or chartering an aircraft, the operator or service provider will have information about the FBOs they typically use. They can guide you to the nearest FBO for your flight. At Global Charter, we’re always happy to help. Please get in touch if you have any questions!