Airport Business - 32

AUTHOR Douglas Wilson


Strange Bedfellows

How can FBOs effectively
handle hundreds of
aircraft types when
OEMs have no cause to
engage with FBOs?

WHEN THE Bombardier Lear 45 series first rolled on
to the ramps of FBOs across the country, FBOs hadn't
seen a truly new Learjet in years. The venerable
30-series Lears, and later 55 and 60 series were all
outgrowths of the same basic airframe.
For FBOs, that commonality
meant ease of ground operations and
relatively common service points.
Yet, when the Lear 45 arrived on the
scene, some well-meaning FBOs didn't
fully grasp it was not a derivate of the
30 series and damaged the nose gear
steering mechanism using the same
towbarless aircraft tug they had used
on every Learjet previously. Despite the


Douglas Wilson is the president and
founder of FBO Partners, LLC, an
aviation consultancy providing business
management advisory services to Fixed
Base Operations (FBOs.). Wilson can be
reached at douglas.wilson@fbopartners.

understandable frustrations of aircraft
owners who experienced this early
learning curve of FBOs, the mistake
was somewhat understandable.
The 45 was the first clean-sheet
Learjet aircraft developed by Bombardier,
and was designed to "look" like the
classic Lears, adding to the confusion.
Save for slightly different windows and
a longer fuselage, the configuration is
eerily like the 31 series. Further, Further,
few in the industry were truly ready for
the aircraft's introduction, because there
is no regulatory requirement for OEMs
to coordinate with FBOs and other
ground handlers when a new aircraft
type is introduced.
While perhaps surprising to some,
the reason is rather logical. FBOs - those
say, providing only fuel, line services
and aircraft storage - are neither aircraft



operators themselves nor aircraft owners,
and unless providing factory-authorized
maintenance for a given OEM, are not
even direct vendors of the OEM. Because
of this, FBOs are completely peripheral
to an OEM, except when maybe playing
host to an OEM's event featuring an
aircraft static display. There is simply no
relationship in the industry between FBO
and OEM. It's somewhat the equivalent
of buying a brand-new BMW and taking
it to a gas station that still provides full
service (I'm looking at you Oregon and
New Jersey) and wondering why they're
not sure how to service the vehicle or
what grade of fuel it takes.
So what is an FBO to do? How can
FBOs effectively handle hundreds of
aircraft types when OEMs have no cause
to engage with FBOs?
To achieve this, most FBOs have
historically relied on several triedand-true sources on aircraft servicing
and ground handling. Third-party
publications such as the Sandpiper
Media's classic Aircraft Ground Service
series has been a staple for years in the
line offices of FBOs across the country.


Airport Business

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Airport Business

Inside the Fence
Industry Update
On the Wild Side
Change for Good
Cover Story: Economy Inflight
Williston Takes Flight
Enhance Airport and Airline Relations
FBOs and OEMs: Strange Bedfellows
Airport Guru
Solid Answers for Successful Airports
Product Focus
Animal Control on the Runway
Airport Business - 1
Airport Business - 2
Airport Business - 3
Airport Business - 4
Airport Business - 5
Airport Business - 6
Airport Business - Inside the Fence
Airport Business - Industry Update
Airport Business - 9
Airport Business - 10
Airport Business - 11
Airport Business - On the Wild Side
Airport Business - 13
Airport Business - 14
Airport Business - 15
Airport Business - Change for Good
Airport Business - 17
Airport Business - 18
Airport Business - 19
Airport Business - Cover Story: Economy Inflight
Airport Business - 21
Airport Business - 22
Airport Business - 23
Airport Business - 24
Airport Business - 25
Airport Business - Williston Takes Flight
Airport Business - 27
Airport Business - Enhance Airport and Airline Relations
Airport Business - 29
Airport Business - 30
Airport Business - 31
Airport Business - FBOs and OEMs: Strange Bedfellows
Airport Business - 33
Airport Business - Airport Guru
Airport Business - 35
Airport Business - Solid Answers for Successful Airports
Airport Business - 37
Airport Business - Product Focus
Airport Business - 39
Airport Business - Animal Control on the Runway
Airport Business - 41
Airport Business - 42
Airport Business - 43
Airport Business - 44