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Fixed-base Operators (FBOs) are essentially terminals within airports for private aircraft. They have the right to operate at commercial airports. Depending on locations, you may have a choice of several. With time and experience, the use of these becomes easy and efficient. There are some key things to bear in mind, though, especially when first planning your use of FBOs.

The Range & Levels of FBOs

Any private jet operator or user should be aware of FBOs. At smaller airports, there may only be one FBO. One or more FBOs may operate alongside the commercial terminals at larger commercial airports. FBOs will provide all services that private aircraft need. This includes facilities for check-in, security and immigration as required, as well as additional services for passengers and crew.

The term ‘FBO’ is not an international standard. It originated with private terminals in the US, but its use is now common in many countries. They may be referred to by other names in some locations, though.

Do Research the Availability of FBOs in Advance

FBOs differ in the services they offer, the hours they operate and the rates they charge. Many airports have more than one – making the research and choice much more important. For example, Paris Le Bourget Airport has eight FBOs, and Teterboro Airport in New York has five.

For the right experience, make sure you check beforehand with any FBO you could use. Think about what facilities and services you need – such as lounges areas to wait before or after a flight, onward transportation services or rental cars, or client and meeting services. Prices and availability of fuel is another important consideration. This is something that every operator using an FBO will need.

Do Contact any FBO That You Plan to Use

FBOs need to know in advance of arrival and usage plans. This is important for large facilities that could be busy, as well as smaller ones that may need to prepare staff and services in advance. This involves contacting the FBO in advance and before completing a flight plan, as well as in the air before arrival.

Do Think About Storage of Aircraft

Facilities and rates for parking or storing aircraft vary between operators. You should be mindful of how long (hours, days or longer) you need to leave an aircraft with an FBO and check facilities and provisions for this. With many FBOs, hangar storage is available but will need to be planned in advance. Many FBOs can also provide cleaning, repair and maintenance services for aircraft if needed.

Do Consider Passenger’s Onward Plans

The passengers’ journey does not end at the FBO. They will usually need onward transportation arranged, perhaps with a private or rented vehicle or transfer. This often needs to be arranged in advance with the FBO. Alternatively, they may need to transfer to another terminal in the airport. Again, FBOs can assist with this.

Do Stay Flexible

One of the key advantages of private flying is flexibility, and this applies to FBO use as well. While changes and needs should be discussed with the operator, there is usually much more flexibility than commercial operations. If plans change or you run late, this can generally be accommodated. Also, terminal departure and arrival procedures will be much faster – passengers can often just arrive 10 to 15 minutes before a flight if they wish.

Don’t Forget to Check the FBO Location on the Airfield

Ensuring familiarity with departure and arrival airports should be part of any proper pre-flight planning. Especially at larger airports, it is important for operators to stay aware of FBO location, though. This may require a longer taxi at large airports.

Don’t Rush & Disobey Instructions

Many private flyers are in a rush. This goes with the territory – flexibility and time-savings are key advantages of private flying. This doesn’t make it any less important, though, to be aware of FBO requirements and directions. There may be a specific area to park or drop the aircraft.

Don’t Ignore Crew Requirements

As well as providing services and facilities for passengers, FBOs often act as a base for the flight crew. Again, requirements for this will vary between flights and depend on the length of time on the ground. Many FBOs provide lounges, rest areas and planning facilities for aircrew.

Final Thoughts

FBOs provide a range of services for private operators and passengers and usually provide fast and efficient service. Offerings vary between operators, though, and there are several things to bear in mind when selecting which FBO to use. Charters companies and agents are experienced in this and can aid in selection, contact and negotiations.


If you have any questions about flight planning and its complexities, feel free to contact our team today for more information.

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