The aviation industry is served by many service companies, but Fixed Base Operators or FBOs are of particular importance for private and commercial carriers. In this post, we will talk about FBOs in detail and understand some of their services and roles in the current industry.
The essential services
As the name suggests, FBOs and aircraft handling services offer fixed infrastructure and a wide range of different facilities at an airport. These facilities can be really diverse, from managing terminals and passenger services to immigration, aircraft fueling and maintenance services. The range of services offered by these companies depends largely on the size and location. In places like the Middle East, India and China these services are still developing at a rapid rate, while in Europe and North America FBOs already do prominent jobs at most airports.
Understanding aircraft handling services
Some FBOs do offer aircraft handling services, although such services can be provided by third parties as well. A ground handler usually has a direct license from the airport from which to offer these services. This may include both above and below wing services (discussed further in this post). Airport handling services are critical because these offer help and assistance with ground support equipment. Ground handlers must carry significant liability insurance and must have proper safety training in the field. In most countries they also need additional certification from different authorities.
Above and below wing services
"Above Wing" services are all about assisting the crew and passengers to and from the aircraft. This may include handling passengers at the airport, along with other services like transportation to the aircraft, in-flight catering and managing accommodation at hotels if needed. FBOs also manage concierge services to serve the passenger requirements of those using private aircraft. On the other hand, "Below Wing" services involve actual ground handling work, including baggage handling, towing, and coordinating with other parties for fueling, hangar and other services. Many of the companies also offer additional essential services, such as the supply of certain equipment such as tugs, ground power units and other equipment.
Other important areas
If you are a private aircraft owner and require FBO services, you need to find a company that has extensive experience in the field. You need to know the depth of experience they have providing FBO services and their current capabilities and capacities. For FBO services, it's important to have a company that specializes in the field and has worked at major airports in America. You might also want to know their experience in the international arena, especially when you need to specifically plan for international operations.
Over the years, the demand for FBOs has increased considerably, although the roles can differ in different countries. These companies perform the technical requirements and handle other issues at major airports and streamline the work in a professional way, both for flight crews and passengers. Some of the FBOs even work with airport sponsors and other parties to manage and handle specific projects.