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46 Airports and the Newest Generation of General Aviation Aircraft Source: Aerofinity, Inc. Figure 5-6. Sample airport wayfinding sign. The airport operator must understand the purpose of the aircraft operation in order to provide appropriate ground handling services. Although the operator of a single-engine piston aircraft on a personal flight may be very happy with cost-effective self-serve fuel and parking, typically business, corporate, or commercial operations want higher levels of customer service and the convenience of full service. The most common methods of providing ground handling services at an airport are by contract- ing with a private FBO or providing the services with the airport operator's own employees. FBOs are commercial aviation businesses specializing in servicing aircraft. The busier an airport is, typ- ically the more economically viable it is for an FBO to provide the services. At low-activity facili- ties, it is more common for an airport operator's employees to provide ground handling services. These services and accompanying terminal facilities may be a customer's first impression of the air- port and community, so it is important to provide high-quality services. A ground handling service provider generally recoups the cost of the services through fuel sales and other purchases. If an airport is primarily being used to drop off and pick up passengers, using ground handling services, but without the aircraft operators purchasing fuel or other supplies, some type of service fee may need to be considered to compensate the service provider and airport operator for the cost of accommodating the aircraft. Key Ground Handling Questions When are ground handling services 5.5.1 Core Services needed: business hours, business hours plus afterhours on call, or 24/7? Core ground handling services generally include fuel- How can an airport operator ensure that ing, line service, aircraft maintenance, and aircraft all aircraft are treated equally? storage. Other services that may be provided by an FBO Are staff qualified and appropriately or specialized service provider include but are not lim- trained, and is the service professional? ited to flight training, aircraft rental, charter operations, What additional services beyond the core avionics service, aircraft sales, and parts sales. This sec- services should be provided at the airport tion will cover the core services, with additional consid- to enhance the customer service experi- eration given to the physical buildings in the following ence? Can the existing provider offer those landside development section. services? The airport operator should pursue leases and con- tracts with the FBO that have a customer-service
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Airport Toolbox 47 focus. This can be accomplished through a comprehensive set of FBO minimum standards. Minimum standards prescribe the basic level of service required to be provided by different types of businesses located on the airport so as to provide a level playing field if multiple businesses are pro- viding the same type of services. The airport operator should also ensure that leases and contracts protect the airport's ability to increase aircraft traffic, thereby serving the local community and are not just developed in a way that allows the FBO to maximize profits. FAA requirements regarding exclusive use and minimum standards are in FAA AC 150/5190-6, Exclusive Rights at Federally Obligated Airports, and FAA AC 150/5190-7, Minimum Stations for Commercial Aero- nautical Activities. Although fueling is the most essential ground handling service and typically one of the largest GA revenue generators, it is only one aspect of ground handling services. The level and type of activity at the airport, size of community, competition from surrounding airports, and expectation of users all need to be carefully considered by the airport operator to iden- tify the appropriate level of ground handling service needed at the airport. Table 5-7 lists many of the common ground handling services and is intended to be a guide for reviewing Table 5-7. Core ground handling services. Potential Service Items Considerations Fueling 100LL Self-serve or full-serve Jet A Sufficient demand for JetA to sell within shelf Lubricants life Fuel supplier as resource if establishing new system Number and size of fuel tanks Number and size of fuel trucks Line Service Convenient aircraft parking Size of aircraft using airport (services) Tug service Purpose of flight of aircraft using airport Load/unload assistance Demand for 24 hour service Escorted apron auto access Provisions for after hour on-call service Covered aircraft loading area Employee training Auto pick-up loading area Security for parked aircraft Ground power unit Basic or red carpet service expectations Battery cart Compliance with regulations for chemical use Lavatory service Expedite service with on-line arrival Oxygen/nitrogen service reservations Crew cars Engine pre-heat Complimentary coffee/ice Catering Rental cars Aircraft cleaning Deicing Hotel/restaurant reservations Line Service Restrooms Visual impression of operations (facilities) Counter space/office ADA accessibility Waiting lounge Would restaurant serve primarily airport users Pilot lounge/rest areas or general public also? Weather/flight planning Would meeting provisions make airport Snack/vending/restaurant destination rather than travel into community? Business center Conference room Wireless Internet Maintenance Engine Employee training/certification (A&P Structures mechanic) Avionics Type of aircraft to be served Competition from surrounding airports Aircraft Long-term hangar space Size of aircraft that need to be accommodated storage Overnight hangar space In-out service Tie-downs Space available for future development Source: Aerofinity, Inc. analysis.