An FBO is a Fixed Base Operator, which is the private jet service available at an airport. In some cases, the FBO is a lounge that is part of the main building, while in others it is a stand-alone building. When you fly on a private jet, you generally fly into and out of FBOs.
FBO Services Vary
No two FBOs are alike, which can be confusing if you are a new pilot or if you are new to flying in the United States. All FBOs offer fuel, though the type of fuel service may vary with some offering self service and others fueling for you. Ground transportation, parking, amenities, internet access, and operating hours may also vary by location.
Hand Signals Are Important
When flying into an FBO, it is important that you understand how to communicate using hand signals. You should be very comfortable with hand signals before ever setting out on a solo mission. You can brush up on hand signals by studying the section in the Aeronautical Information Manual.
FBO Operating Hours Differ
FBO operating hours vary by location. Most are open at least regular business hours, often closing at seven or eight in the evening. Some FBOs are open 24 hours. FBO websites may not always have the most current hours available, so it is critical to check with an FBO before flying in so that you will not run out of fuel or violate ordinances that have been put in place.
Some FBOs Offer Maintenance
Some FBOs offer maintenance or repair services, which can be very helpful. The type of repairs that an FBO is capable of performing can vary, so you may wish to look into available services and schedule your flights accordingly as you need maintenance and repairs performed. As with any FBO service, it is important to plan ahead and communicate to make sure that your repairs can be performed.
Amenities Can Be Enjoyable
Many FBOs seek to provide superior customer service and amenities to pilots, crew, and passengers. FBOs may provide luxurious lounge areas with televisions, Wi-Fi, snacks, and beverages. Bathroom services and showers are also provided at many FBOs, which can be refreshing for weary pilots and crew members that are taking long journeys.
FBOs May Be Tough to Find
FBOs offer those flying by private jet a degree of discretion. This means that there are not large signs and arrows pointing the way to FBOs at airports. For this reason, it is crucial to make sure that car services or family members know where FBOs are located ahead of time.
When first starting out on solo missions with your own aircraft, it is critical to plan ahead. Make sure that you research the FBOs that you will be using and handle needs like aircraft insurance before setting out.