Working Through Aviation Infrastructure
By Charlie Elliott, Freeman Holdings
Pilots from all over the country are looking for a safe place to land their aircraft and an FBO—Fixed-Base Operator (FBO)—provides that. An FBO is an organization granted the right by an airport to operate at the airport and provide aeronautical services such as fueling, hangaring, tie-down and parking, aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction, and similar services.
Freeman Holding Group and their Million Air FBOs provide services to both commercial industry and military flights around the US. With that experience comes first hand knowledge on how infrastructure impacts air customers.
Most of the Freeman Million Airs are co-located with or across the tarmac from commercial terminals. Services provided to these commercial flights include fueling, de-icing, cleaning of aircraft and other services as requested. Military aircraft are provided similar service, but FHG also loads and unloads military cargo, loads and unloads soldiers and their baggage, provides meal services, transport to sleeping facilities and other services as required.
Balancing the workload between military and civilian customers is a must, but is not always an easy task. An FBO with a mixture of commercial and military aircraft on the ground for servicing requires close scrutiny. It cannot always be first-in, first out. Analysis of the missions to include priorities, destinations and tarmac space is a must. Customer satisfaction and mission success is always the end product.
Use and forecasting of infrastructure is a routine step in implementing the support process. Our thought process is inclusive of a broad range of processes such as:
- Access for personnel and cargo (the FBO is the center of the spoke—the hub for air, rail, truck and port.)
- Facilities are managed to take advantage of existing and potential support systems for hangars, cargo and many other uses.
- Continuous improvement of runways, lighting, radar and other support systems peculiar to maintenance of aircraft support.
- Modernization of fuel storage and systems (receiving and dispensing.) Economical and efficiency of trucks, hydrants and other fueling supply systems with safety constantly monitored and systems upgraded.
- Prompt and clean, different of fuel types delivered to storage systems, fuelers and aircraft.
- Handling of specialty cargo such as hazardous cargo, customs, international trash and military supplies and sensitive items.
- Maintenance of infrastructure, funding, hiring and training qualified crews.
- Continuous updating of short, medium and long-range planning in every area of airport operations.
- Availability and appropriate training and supervision of area specialists.
- Access, loading and unloading all delivery methods (aircraft, truck, rail and port). Availability and maintenance of MHE, fuel, storage and timely links to subsequent transportation methods.
- Variety of support systems for air, rail, truck and port. Funding for all methods must be included in all plans and budget such as Maximum On Ground (MOG), movements by rail, trucks and port requiring staging areas and depth of water ways for ports.
- Must always keep in mind a plethora of safety and hazardous activities.
There are many additional activities, equipment and other systems to keep the planners very busy. Planners are infamous to always point out that there are a lot of balls to balance when keeping up with a growing and aging infrastructure. You just have to pay constant attention and not drop the glass balls. Fact is, they are all glass.