FBO stands for “Fixed-base operator.”

The term refers to mostly private companies that provide essential aviation-related services at airports.

These services include arranging aircraft parking, plane maintenance and delivering aviation fuel.

FBOs sign leases with airports to provide them with the services they need to meet aviation regulatory requirements.

Almost all airports have FBOs as part of the services that airports provide, and larger airports can even have as many as 6 FBOs.

There are over 5,000 FBOs in the world, with over 3,000 in the United States alone.

Signature Flight is the largest FBO provider in the United States. 

What is an FBO?

A fixed-base operator (FBO) is a company that provides aeronautical services to an airport’s aircraft, passengers, and crew members.

FBO operators perform services like providing a place to park aircraft and arranging repairs for aircraft. 

Virtually all airports will have FBOs.

Smaller airports sometimes have government-run FBOs, while larger airports hire private companies.

Without FBOs, most airports would not meet safety and maintenance regulations. 

How an FBO Works

An FBO company offers its services to an airport.

If the airport accepts, the aircraft will provide the FBO with a lease agreement.

Then the FBO will be required to provide the aviation-related services needed by the airports.

The exact services provided depend on the size of the airport. 

Depending on the size of the airport, these services could range from providing parking space to planes to delivering fuel to the aircraft and arranging for airplane repairs.

The FBO will continue providing these services until the airport cancels its lease. 

7 Services FBOs Provide

An FBO provides many services.

Most of these services are related to aircraft maintenance and repair.

In large airports, FBOs may even provide the following additional services: 

  • Taxi services 
  • Pilot’s lounges 
  • Flight training
  • Private jet charters 
  • Aircraft rental and sale 
  • Aerial photography 
  • Conference facilities 

Facilities FBOs Offer Passengers

Chiefly, FBOs provide private luxury flying services for passengers.

FBOs are known for providing a fast and high-quality personalized experience to customers. 

These are some of the top benefits of FBO services:

1. More Private and Laid-Back Experience 

FBOs offer a discreet private jet experience that involves short lines and no crowds, even when it comes to going through customs.

2. Great Customer Service 

FBOs provide premium customer service to ensure passengers are fully satisfied. 

3. Exceptional Amenities 

FBOs offer exceptional amenities like conference rooms for business meetings and even restaurants. 

4. Fast Boarding and Check-In Process 

FBOs don’t conduct personal screenings or bag searches.

They’ll normally just require you to show your ID to the pilot or another staff member. 

5. Experienced Flight Crews

FBOs usually hire experienced and reliable flight crews who’ll professionally deliver amenities and services to you. 

Almost All Airports Have an FBO

Virtually all airports have an FBO, and large airports need FBOs. Some small airports may not have them, but it’s exceedingly rare.

As FBOs provide many essential services for airports, pretty much all airports need FBOs. 

Airports Can Have More Than One FBO

Many busy airports have multiple FBOs, the same way that busy highways also have multiple gas stations.

Airports that have high volumes of private jet flights especially have multiple FBOs.

For example, the Teterboro Airport in New York City and the Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles may have as many as six FBOs at a time. 

FBO Stats & FAQs

  • The largest FBO in the United States is J. A. Air Center, Sugar Grove, Illinois.
  • The larget FBO in Europe is ExecuJet Aviation Group, Zurich, Switzerland.
  • There are 5,245 FBOs in the United States of varying sizes.
  • There are over 5,000 FBOs in the world.
  • Individuals, partnerships, and corporations privately own most FBOs. In smaller areas, some local governments also own FBOs. 

Origins of the Term Fixed Base Operator

The term FBO started in the early days of aviation when the industry was not regulated.

Before 1926, civil aviation was not highly regulated until the Air Commerce Act of 1926 came into effect that regulated flying requirements. 

This Act has specific requirements for airport maintenance, and fixed-base operators were developed to fulfill these requirements.

They provided the services that airports needed to meet civil aviation requirements. 

In conclusion:

  • A fixed-base operator (FBO) provides airports with essential aviation-related services.
  • These services include arranging for repairs, providing planes a place to park, and delivering aviation fuel.
  • FBOs can also provide additional services like aerial photography and chartering private jets.
  • Most FBOs are private businesses, but are also government-run in some areas.
  • Virtually all airports have FBOs, and some of the world’s largest airports even have multiple FBOs.
  • FBOs developed in response to the Air Commerce Act of 1926, which regulated air travel and required airports to meet maintenance standards. 

Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.

Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.

Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).