Look around an airport and you are sure to find more than just one FBO. As mentioned earlier, FBO stands for Fixed Base Operators. These are privately owned or publicly held corporations that an airport has licensed or granted the right to carry out standardized and premium aeronautic services within the four walls of the airport or in very close proximity to it.
However, FBOs are primarily located within an airport. There may be more than a couple of FBOs within an airport at any given point in time. From a historical standpoint, the term Fixed Base Operators arose after the first World War. It was a time when ex-fighter pilots and servicemen ran mini-flight operations to earn a living after the war.
These ex-servicemen would reenact epic dogfights, carry out flight training, and perform synchronized flying acts for a fee. Eventually, they would form what would turn out to be the first set of FBOs who would help perform a number of aeronautic services for private jet owners and corporate airlines.
Essentially in small villages and towns, the entire town would become an FBO, providing all manner of services from aircraft maintenance to hospitality. In effect providing a source of livelihood to the populace of the town.
Today FBOs have become a more structured and professional outfit. They provide a series of specialized aeronautic value-added services in a safe and prompt manner. These days there are FBO chains that offer services in a number of airports spread across the U.S and abroad. FBOs keep to a strict standard of high performance as their very existence depends on it. Trust is the foundation of all their aeronautic activities. This is something they tend not to compromise as the industry is a highly competitive and unforgivable one.
Fixed Base Operators are usually within the airport itself. The reason for their existence in an airport is simple. Depending on the service they provide, it only makes economic and business sense to operate in the vicinity of the airport.
FBOs providing aircraft maintenance services; for example, would need to have a hangar where the aircraft can be housed for servicing and maintenance. By being located in the airport, it makes conveying the aircraft into the hangar a much easier task than if they were operating outside the airport. Besides the airline or private aircraft owner would be wary of trusting the maintenance of their airplane to an FBO located outside the airport as opposed to an FBO that is situated within the airport.
However, FBOs providing hospitality services like lodging and feeding could get away with being located just outside the airport. These FBOs could also provide transportation services to convey pilots, crew members, and passengers to and from their service points. This way the pilots, crew members, and passengers would get to the airport on time before their next flight.
Ultimately, the services offered by an FBO would usually determine their location. But most FBOs prefer being where the action is, which is the airport, especially in a medium to heavy traffic airport.