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Airport window cleaner FBO contractor with view overlooking runway

Airport expansion and contraction, changing markets, and new technologies and services are par for the course in the aviation support industry. Fixed Based Operators (FBO’s), the versatile service providers that keep the airlines moving, can find themselves scrambling as they are asked to adapt along with their airline partners to the changing commercial aviation landscape. We take a look at some of the challenges facing Fixed Based Operators (FBOs) and how tension fabric structures may help them quickly and affordably adapt local operations as needs and the aviation environment evolve.

FBO’s Vital Role in Aviation

Whether an FBO is one employee, serving occasional small aircraft at low-traffic airports, or a large operation, overseeing hundreds of workers at major airports and deploying perhaps thousands systemwide, FBO’s face many ongoing and emerging logistical challenges in order to be commercially and financially successful.

An FBO may specialize or fill many roles. Some FBOs park the aircraft. Others fuel the planes. Some provide inflight entertainment, while others carry out concierge services. FBOs might load cargo and baggage, transport passengers and crew, or maintain airport security. Still others provide support and maintenance at airport reception and ticketing areas, check-in counters, departure areas, and baggage conveyors. Then there are specialized high-skill jobs, such as keeping crews informed of weather, traffic, and routing details. FBO’s may have aircraft repair and maintenance roles involving engines and other specialized aircraft parts, electro-mechanical and instrument systems. FBOs may even include cabin crew who attend to passengers and pilots and require technical training— meteorology, first-aid, security and expertise in emergencies such as hijackings.

Allsite tension fabric structure permanent airport hangar with large aircraft and bright lighting

Challenges and Opportunities for Fixed Based Operators

FBO Success Based on Reputation

FBOs work closely with airport management and airlines to coordinate services and seamlessly optimize the flying experience for the flying public. Because excellent performance is so vital, the survival and growth of an FBO is based on its reputation. Airport managers will carefully screen, and constantly assess the FBO’s record to ensure top-quality work and a contribution to the airport’s reputation and success. FBO’s constantly strive to deliver reliable, even exceptional services to meet and beat the expectations of airport managers under extreme time pressures and in a complex, busy and sometimes hectic airport environment.

New Opportunities

While seeking to streamline airline industry operations and control expenses, airport and airline management frequently consider new roles for high-quality FBOs. This brings opportunity to established operators as well as to startup FBO’s. The challenge for the FBO is to rise up to the new opportunity and deliver with consistent reliability and performance.

Growth and Changes in Air Travel

Of course, the overall growth of FBOs depends on the airline industry’s performance as a whole, which in turn depends on external factors like oil prices, the economy, and changes in industry and environmental regulations. Adding to all these challenges is the movement of commercial air carriers into and out of airports outside the major hubs. New, remote or temporary distant airport assignments may create logistical challenges to FBO’s. Despite their many different skills and service roles, a common challenge among Fixed Based Operators is that they need to be nearby, with quick access to airport grounds for fast response time and quick deployment of personnel and supplies when and where they are needed. Agility—being able to expand local capacity and rapidly adjust to change—is a major advantage in aviation support.

The Role of Tension Fabric Structures for FBO’s on the Ground

Growth and change create challenges for all businesses. For FBO’s, one big challenge can be establishing an effective operating base or workspace at or near their service locations. A long-term commitment to a traditional building lease, with a set amount of square footage, location or type of facility may not make sense logistically or financially. An FBO might quickly need more space in the same, or new space in a distant airport, or perhaps more room to accept a new aircraft maintenance contract, to house equipment and supplies, or to use as a logistics hub or office space. Or they may need to reduce space in a downturn, or move operations entirely from one airport to another.

Clamshell fabric hangar on airport tarmac at sunset

Durable Tension Fabric Structures

Versatile, Fast and Affordable Building Solutions for the FBO Industry

Allsite’s tension fabric structures (TFS) provide the aviation industry with quality and customized building solutions and are becoming a popular alternative to traditional buildings where traditional buildings don’t make sense. Made with advanced materials and design that vastly increase longevity, strength and stability over other fabric structures, Allsite’s all-weather tension fabric buildings provide versatile, high quality, comfortable workspace that can be installed virtually anywhere. TFS are highly durable and strong enough for permanent use. Built to withstand virtually any weather and deployable in any climate, the high grade aluminum frame does not rust or corrode like steel, and is highly flexible while providing superior strength. TFS PVC fabric material does not expand and contract during summer heat and winter freeze, which can cause steel buildings to leak, rust, and need regular maintenance. The white PVC fabric reflects light well, making the structure much brighter with the use of few lights.

Versatile and Relocatable Buildings

For FBO’s looking for flexibility, TFS structures can be deployed on any terrain, so they can be installed at remote airports that may not have fully built out service areas. The flexibility in the aluminum frame allows the TFS to be constructed without the need for a foundation. In areas where the ground cannot be penetrated for anchoring the TFS can use a weighted ballast system. Once a site is identified, the extruded aluminum and PVC fabric materials are designed for quick installation and the TFS can be ready to use within a few days to a week after delivery. When the FBO’s needs change, the TFS are easily relocatable, across the site, or across the country to another airport.

Customizable Aviation Building Options

FBO’s need efficient workspaces where crews and supplies can quickly deploy and take care of business. With many options available, TFS’s large open span interior can be configured according to the FBO’s needs, such as office space, warehouse or an aircraft hangar. And, with these reusable and durable structures, no major capital investment is required. TFS can be leased or rented for as long as they are needed, and then relocated to a new operations site, or returned.

FBO’s face many challenges in an increasingly complex and competitive aviation industry. Let Allsite provide the FBO facility or hangar solution you need, whenever and wherever you may need it, and become part of your strategy for success. For more information, contact Allsite today.

Author Peter Milligan

Peter Milligan is a Business Development Manager at Allsite, with degree in Psychology from Lafayette College and 14 years experience in matching customers with Tension Fabric Structure solutions. Read more about Peter and the rest of our team at

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