Synthesis Topics

FBO Industry - After the Pandemic, 2022

In 2020, ACRP Synthesis 108 was published based on 2018 data. This synthesis established an important (and previously unavailable) baseline about the fixed base operator (FBO) industry. Much has happened at GA airports and to business and personal flying during the pandemic.  It would be valuable to the GA airport community to reassess/update the analysis presented in Synthesis 108 and reflect on new services and business models developed for these airports post-pandemic.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

In 2018, there were 3.661 FBO's at public use airports in the U.S. Most airports support one FBO and approximately 300 airports at the time, had multiple FBOs. Many of the smaller FBOs were operated by airport sponsors (42%). In addition, a large percentage of FBOs were operated by independent owners. In 2018, there were consolidation trends in place as "mom and pop" FBOs were purchased by larger companies or ceased to exist if owners retired and there were no acquisition options. The pandemic put extraordinary pressures on airports of all sizes. Some GA airports prospered; others languished.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

The objective of this research is to update Synthesis 108 and to examine how the pandemic affected FBO operations in different markets and to analyze external and internal factors that led to changes in the industry, ownership patterns, and services offered at different size airports in the U.S.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

This project requires the acquisition of the AirNav database and download of the FAA Form 5010-1 Airport Master Records and the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). Considerable effort is required to verify, quantify, and analyze the data. The update would essentially follow the framework developed in Synthesis 108 with new discussions around the state of GA airports and GA activity. One improvement to Synthesis 108 would be construction of a relational database that can handle the data, reporting, and future updates. This would be an additional cost to the project.

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

ACRP Synthesis 108, ACRP Synthesis 86, ACRP Report 192, ACRP 03-60. 

ACRP has supported a number of projects that help GA airports manage and plan for various on-airport businesses. This project would be an efficient means to update the post-pandemic situation for general aviation airports and highlight recent changes in this segment of aviation.

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Idea No. 783