What is an FBO and Why are They Important?

Aviation in divided in to three main sections between Commercial, Military and General Aviation. We are all familiar with the first two and we often incredibly discredit the size and value of General Aviation it deserves to be in the spot light more. Over the years commercial aviation has stolen the spot light and now it’s time for General Aviation to win it back.

General Aviation is the backbone of aviation’s origins.

The time is calling again for more demand of General Aviation operation and FBO play a major role in the progression of General Aviation in the coming years.


Gladys Roy and Ivan Unger play tennis on the wing of a biplane in flight, 1925.

The Aftermath of WWI

When World War I ended there was now a surplus of military aircraft that the air-force no longer had a need for them as the manufactures continued to build more aircraft not knowing when the war would end. These aircraft were sold off at relatively cheap prices and more individuals that ever before were able to purchase an aircraft.

There was not any formal education system in place to be able to train and properly regulate aviation at the time. A community of individuals from the war began teaching civilians how to fly and they would then share what they learned with others.

These aviators would travel around the nation creating small temporary settlements in towns as they would migrate every so often. They would earn money by putting on shows using their aircraft as they would go from town to town and earned the title of being Barnstormers as they would land on large pieces of flat lands most often used by farmers and set up camp there until it was time to head out to the next settlement.

The pilots went from town to town so did the mechanics, navigators and also the airplanes. This made any type of successful consistent business was difficult to operate due to the constant movement of the barnstormers.With more regulation increasing in the nation the need for schools and instructors became more necessary and the need for services was in demand.

As a business would open up near airstrips and to offer services they wanted to make sure they pilots knew they could come back and receive repeat service. Thus they made it know that they were Fixed-Based Operators and that they were not going to get up and leave anytime soon.

This set the tone for becoming the hub for a majority of General Aviation Operations.

Fixed-Based Operators (FBO)

The accessibility of private aircraft is growing to larger audiences as times progresses. The costs are continue to lower as manufacturing becomes cheaper and the flow of new aircraft in the market continues to bring more supply into the market. The percentage of companies that are choosing to do business with general aviation compared to commercial is growing due to the benefits in regards to accessibility and safety.

Not to mention the time you will be saving by being able to have the aircraft prepare and ready to go awaiting your arrival.

With the demand for more activity in the private industry the need for more reliable FBOs will continue to rise. Finding a location that is able to serve your needs in regards to accommodations and quality of service at a fair price will ensures that you create a relationship to promote repeat business.

The possibilities for growth within an FBO are endless as they are responsible for an array of duties such as advertising, training, education, sales, services, as well as community interaction.

Understanding the Role of an FBO

Being the focal point of General Aviation an FBO must be prepared to provide a variety of services from maintenance, part sales, fueling, cleaning, catering, and even customs and immigration processing to be able to handle international guest.

Flight schools are often incorporated within an FBO as they offer a great opportunity to teach new aviators the basics of flying and aid in completing various certifications. Not to mention the leasing, charting and sale of aircraft provides for incredible revenue flow to an FBO.

Understanding these factors is elementary, being able to combine all these separate entities and perform in a manner that creates incredible experiences that ensures that the guest will return based on the incredible manner at which the left feeling your FBO is vital.

FBOs are the face of general aviation and understanding the role they play is essential in leveraging the network and array of benefits the general aviation world has to offer.

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