National Academies Press: OpenBook

Characteristics of the FBO Industry 2018-2019 (2020)

Chapter: Chapter 1 - Introduction

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Page 5
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Characteristics of the FBO Industry 2018-2019. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25846.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Characteristics of the FBO Industry 2018-2019. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25846.
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Page 6
Page 7
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Characteristics of the FBO Industry 2018-2019. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25846.
×
Page 7
Page 8
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Characteristics of the FBO Industry 2018-2019. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25846.
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Page 8

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5 The term fixed-base operator (FBO) is defined by the FAA as “a business granted the right by the airport sponsor to operate on an airport and provide aeronautical services . . .” [FAA AC 5190.6B]. The most basic FBO offers its customers self-service (SS) fueling. More typically, an FBO offers a set of core services such as fuel, use of hangars, ground services, and, sometimes, aircraft maintenance. The services offered varies, as FBOs may cater to small general aviation (GA) aircraft, business aviation, commercial airlines, cargo operators, military flights, or a com- bination of clientele. At some airports, aeronautical services are divided among different businesses. The FBO may offer fuel, aircraft parking, hangars, and ground and concierge services. Specialized aviation service operators (SASOs) handle other services. For example, at 13 of its U.S. locations, Signature Flight Support offers a full range of aircraft maintenance at its TECHNICAir centers. At other FBO locations, it will refer customers to maintenance spe- cialists on the airfield or a nearby TECHNICAir center. There are many SASOs specializing in flight instruction, aircraft rentals and charters, aircraft management, maintenance, avionics, aircraft painting, interiors, and modifications. SASOs tend to cater to specific clients, aircraft, or onboard equipment. The FBO industry remains large and segmented, reflecting a diverse system of airports, a broad spectrum of airport users, and many different FBO owners, both private companies and public entities. To provide a sense of scale, there are 19,622 airports or landing facilities in the United States. These include airports, heliports, gliderports, seaplane bases, balloonports, and ultralight facilities. Most of these facilities are privately owned and inaccessible to the public. In the FAA’s database of 5010-1, Airport Master Records, the FAA listed 5,092 public-use air- ports (in 2018). These public-use airports are the facilities examined in this synthesis. Comparisons of FBOs at public-use airports can be based on • Ownership patterns • Services offered • Customer base • Scale of operations • Investment in facilities • Sales revenue • Culture (brand) It is possible to group FBOs by any one of these variables, but for this publication, FBOs are examined by services offered, number of locations, and ownership patterns as follows and shown in Figure 1: • SS fuel for commercial sale • Publicly owned FBOs C H A P T E R 1 Introduction

6 Characteristics of the FBO Industry 2018–2019 • Independent FBOs (1 to 2 locations) • Small-network FBOs (3 to 5 locations) • Large-network, franchise, and affiliate FBOs The purpose of this synthesis was to establish a baseline of information, accurate for 2018, that described the FBO industry and identified important trends that might affect the provision of FBO services in the near term. That said, the analysis of this industry was challenging because the FBO industry is dominated by privately held companies that for competitive reasons tend not to publish information about sales, financial performance, or marketing strategies at an airport-level of detail. For the largest publicly owned companies such as BBA Aviation and Atlantic Aviation, companywide information is reported in annual reports. Location-specific FBO information is largely self-reported on websites and listings in aviation databases pub- lished by AirNav, AC-U-KWIK, FlightAware, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), and various electronic applications directed at pilots, flight departments, and sched- ulers and dispatchers. Self-reporting occurs primarily when an FBO operator is advertising fuel prices or aircraft, pilot, and passenger services. These listings are marketing efforts to retain and attract customers. For this reason, use of the FBO directories and databases must be done with circumspection regarding the intended audiences and objectives of each data source. Putting together a picture of the FBO industry thus involved use of multiple sources of information. This report is a beginning effort and stands as an open invitation for readers to continue the effort with increasing precision. The analysis examined self-reported FBO listings as well as information compiled by the FAA from Form 5010-1, Airport Master Records, and by the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). Figure 2 describes the major sources of information about FBOs and public-use airports used in the synthesis. This snapshot of the FBO industry includes an exploration of the following topics: • An estimate of the total number of FBOs operating at public-use airports; • The organizational characteristics of these FBOs (i.e., publicly owned, independent establish- ments, or FBO networks or franchises); • A profile of fuel offerings and fuel brands at FBOs, including the incidence of SS fueling stations with minimal services; • An examination of the types of airports that support individual or multiple FBOs; • A focus on publicly owned FBOs, their governance, levels of service, and geographic distri- bution; and • A profile of private FBOs, including small independents and FBOs operating at multiple locations. The report is organized into multiple chapters as shown in Figure 3. After this chapter, Chapter 2 provides a discussion of key factors shaping the FBO industry. Chapter 3 describes the characteristics of FBOs in the United States in terms of ownership patterns and regional distribution. Chapter 4 delves into the specific services that FBOs offer. Chapter 5 examines Self-Service Fuel for Commercial Sale Publicly Owned FBOs Independent FBOs (1-2 locations) Small Network FBOs (3-5 locations) Large Network, Franchise, and Affiliate FBOs Figure 1. Different types of FBOs.

Introduction 7 GA/FBO Trends NPIAS FAA 5010 FBO Data Source: Adapted, from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository (User Amanda 44). Figure 2. Initial sources of FBO information. Overview Summary Introduction Key Factors Shaping the FBO Industry FBO Analysis Industry Profile FBO Services Private FBOs Public FBOs Roadmap Challenges Open Issues Next Step Opportunities Conclusions Appendices Sources of Data Summary Tables Bibliography and References Acronyms Glossary Figure 3. Report organization.

8 Characteristics of the FBO Industry 2018–2019 privately owned FBOs, and Chapter 6 focuses on FBOs operated by airports, authorities, or limited liability companies (LLCs). Chapter 7 discusses additional resources and potential analyses that were not addressed or only partially addressed but that would benefit from additional future work. The appendices provide a detailed overview of FBO and airport data, summary tables, references and bibliography, a glossary, and a list of acronyms. While there are many articles written about the FBO industry, there is little published research. The ACRP has sponsored several studies and syntheses that complement this report. Table 1 lists relevant studies that might be of interest. See http://www.trb.org/Publications/ PubsACRPPublications.aspx Publications Titles ACRP Legal Research Digest 11 Survey of Minimum Standards: Commercial Aeronautical Activities at Airports ACRP Legal Research Digest 37 Legal Issues Relating to Airports Promoting Competition ACRP Report 47 Guidebook for Developing and Leasing Airport Property ACRP Report 60 Guidelines for Integrating Alternative Jet Fuel into the Airport Setting ACRP Report 77 Guidebook for Developing General Aviation Airport Business Plans ACRP Research Report 165 Tracking Alternative Jet Fuel ACRP Research Report 172 Guidebook for Considering Life-Cycle Costs in Airport Asset Procurement ACRP Research Report 192 Airport Management Guide for Providing Aircraft Fueling Services ACRP Synthesis 63 Overview of Airport Fueling Operations ACRP Synthesis 86 Airport Operator Options for Delivery of FBO Services Table 1. Related ACRP publications.

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The fixed-base operator (FBO) industry provides aeronautical services to a wide spectrum of aircraft operators at airports. The term FBO is defined by the FAA as “a business granted the right by the airport sponsor to operate on an airport and provide aeronautical services . . .” The most basic FBO offers its customers self-service fueling, as well as a set of core services such as use of hangars, ground services, and, sometimes, aircraft maintenance.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Synthesis 108: Characteristics of the FBO Industry 2018-2019 profiles the FBO industry as of December 2018. This analysis of data provides a quantitative snapshot of the FBO industry intended to serve as a reliable baseline of information for tracking FBO trends in the future.

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