Fixed Base Operator Jobs
Long before the age of the international airport and jets that carry hundreds of passengers, planes were primarily owned by individuals. The average plane owner acted as pilot, passenger, and mechanic. The modern idea of an airport that would service pilots and aircraft had not yet been developed, and the places where planes touched down during their travels often just supplied fuel. These early fueling stations are what evolved into the modern-day fixed base operator (FBO).
Today, airline carriers such as United or American are considered commercial aircraft companies. These carriers have their own A&P mechanics and ground services to care for the planes they own. Individuals or corporations who own planes for private use usually can’t afford to staff private services for their planes so they take their aircraft to FBOs.
An FBO’s role is service. They do not make money by selling tickets for flights, but by selling fuel to plane owners and offering them a place to park their plane or plan the rest of their flight. They often have mechanic, ground crew, flight planning, and baggage assistance as well.
Beyond what FBOs offer plane owners is what they offer those who want jobs in the aviation industry. Jobs in this field can be tough to get and it can be hard to find the experience you need if you can’t get work around planes. Even though their operations are much smaller than those of commercial airlines, FBOs hire for similar types of positions.
From fuelers and ground crew to customer service, FBOs hire for many types of aviation jobs. People who work at an FBO gain valuable experience that will give them an advantage when they apply with a commercial carrier. Employees at FBOs often have already applied at an airline and are simply waiting for a position to open. An executive for one of the largest FBOs in the nation put it this way:
Most of the people we hire just want time around planes. They can’t get a job with an airline so they look to us. Airlines like to hire people with experience and although we may not pay as much, people who work here get the kind of knowledge and skills airlines are looking for.
Unlike commercial airlines, FBOs do not require applicants to have extensive experience to be part of their team. They offer training for all of their entry-level positions and the only requirement for prospective employees is an avid interest in airplanes and a strong sense of responsibility. And since you will constantly be working with people, good communication skills and a positive attitude are a must. Here’s a tip. Check out the FAA Jobs website to see if they’re hiring for a specific FBO location and also the TSA Jobs website. The latter has an ongoing need for security screeners.
FBOs do not often advertise job openings. If you are interested in working at a particular site, one of the best ways to apply is to just show up and fill out an application. Try to meet the ground crew manager or the customer service representatives at the front desk. They are always interested in those who are truly enthusiastic about aviation. If you bring a resume and it doesn’t have any aviation experience listed, don’t worry. Showing a reliable work history is a higher priority.