Fixed base operator
aviationindustry, a fixed base operator (also known as fixed base of operation), or FBO, is a service center at an airportthat may be a private enterprise or may be a department of the municipality that the airport serves. The term is originally North American, but it is becoming more common in Europe and the UK.
At a minimum, most FBOs offer
aircraftfuel, oil, and parking, along with access to washrooms and telephones. Some FBOs offer additional aircraft services such as hangar(indoor) storage, maintenance, aircraft charter or rental, flight training, deicing, and ground services such as towing and baggage handling.
FBOs may also offer services not directly related to the aircraft, such as rental cars, lounges, and
History of the term
In the early days of aviation in the United States, there were no airports. "Barn-stormers" were pilots who performed aerobatic shows and landed in farmer's fields, moving across the country as travelling performers. Mechanics and flight instructors followed the shows, offering their services.
As aviation matured airports were built and businesses sprang up around them. Repair stations, flight instructors, charter operators, and fuel suppliers could now be found consistently at these "fixed bases." When the first regulations were written by the federal Civil Aeronautics Board (predecessor of the FAA) it was deemed necessary to distinguish between those who were offering business services at a fixed base and those who were acting independently. Thus, the term FBO was born, and qualified FBOs were granted somewhat more lenient regulations in some areas in return for more stringent documentation and staffing standards.
This distinction within the FAA regulations continues today, as for example, a private flight instructor is regulated differently under Part 61 than a fully-qualified school operating under Part 141.
Over the years, as most aviation services became centered around airports, the term FBO has changed in common usage. Today, it usually means that an operator sells fuel for general aviation aircraft, and provides some facilities for receiving and handling charter flights and passengers.
Although many FBOs still house little more than a tattered old sofa and a table for flight planning, today most have bright, airy modern facilities. Nearly all provide a computer with weather depiction or an Internet connection so pilots can begin their briefings online. In addition to a passenger lounge, many also have a quiet room where a weary crew can lean back and snooze while waiting out the weather or waiting for passengers. Hungry crew members can frequently borrow a car for a quick ride into town for lunch or dinner. If a car is not available, it is not unusual for an FBO operator to provide a lift into town for a meal or a hotel room.
Commonly there is a store, or just a single counter, selling charts, manuals, and other accessories such as headsets and "sick-sacks". If there isn't a restaurant or other food service on the field, there may be a vending machine or even a refrigerator stocked and maintained on the "honor system". Nearly every FBO has a pot of coffee waiting on the burner.
There is often a hangar available for maintenance or to protect airplanes from weather. Other times it is necessary to "tie-down" small aircraft outside near the FBO.
Fancier FBOs may require a landing fee or an overnight fee that usually varies according to the size of plane. In some cases, the fee is waived if fuel is purchased.
Most importantly, nearly every FBO provides a telephone that can be used 24-hours a day so that pilots can close their flight plans and get a briefing for their next flight. Twenty-four hour bathrooms are another necessity.
There are roughly 5,245 FBOs in the United States. Many FBOs are operated as franchisees or members of a chain. FBO chains common in the United States include
SheltAir Aviation Services, Signature Flight Support, Million Air, Atlantic Aviation, Atlas Aviation, Avflight Corporation, Cutter Aviation, Landmark Aviation, TACAir, Trajenand UVglobal Network.
At medium and large-sized airports, FBOs are typically affiliated with one of the major aviation fuel suppliers, Shell, Esso, or Petro-T (Quebec only) and display the fuel supplier's sign prominently. At smaller airports, the FBO is often the airport operator or a flying club. Some of the American FBO chains, such as Million Air, also operate at a few Canadian airports.jet aviation
List of aviation topics
* [http://www.airportsenroute.com/fbo.htm Directory of U.S. and Canadian FBOs]
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