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What is a Fixed Base Operator?

As an aircraft charter operator utilizing over 5,000 airports nationwide, we are frequently asked about the infrastructure in place at various airports designated to service aircraft and allow passengers access to their aircraft.  Many airports utilize a private jet terminal, also known as an FBO or “Fixed Base Operator”.

A fixed based operator could be compared in nature to a service gas station; instead of servicing cars, it services aircraft.

The history behind the term Fixed Based Operator is interesting in itself. Toward the end of World War I in 1918, civil aviation was virtually unregulated and mostly made up of “barnstormers” or transient pilots operating military surplus aircraft. Flying from city to city and landing in farmer’s fields, pilots set up temporary camps where they would offer airplane rides and flight lessons.  With pressure from the Air Commerce Act of 1926 that resulted in licensing of pilots, aircraft maintenance requirements, and training standards, the pilots and mechanics making a living on the road started to develop permanent businesses, which were quickly termed Fixed Base Operators.

Today, pilots depend on Fixed Base Operators to help deliver our traveling clients with amenities such  as special catering requests, coffee, newspapers, rental cars, and of course jet fuel for our aircraft. There are approximately 5,200 FBOs in the United States.  Some of these FBOs are members of chains and others are owned independently.  The quality of the FBO plays a major role in our daily operations and we look for the best FBOs to service our airplanes and provide services for our clients.

At Desert Jet we look to deliver an experience that our clients rave about and that includes how they are treated before they arrive on the ramp at our aircraft.  FBOs play a role in providing our clients with the Desert Jet experience, by aiding in arranging their transportation, catering requests, providing car detailing services, and elegant waiting areas for both before and after your flight.  We look for FBOs that can deliver on all accounts, because if they falter it negatively reflects on the experience we work so hard to deliver.

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