If you think about how the various temporary flight restrictions and outright groundings have affected your ability to fly, think some more and consider how these actions have affected your FBO…
NO FLY = NO REVENUE: While the airlines got a bailout, the good folks at your local FBO were left to fend for themselves. While their planes were grounded, they received no revenue, but the bills kept coming in. Bills for insurance, salaries and benefits, storage, lease payments and even maintenance all continued while the TFRs and ground stops were in place, and that my friends, has made life awful hard for your FBO.
FOR THE MOST PART, THE AVIATION BUSINESS IS HAND TO MOUTH — as is the case of the average small FBO. They aren’t salting away sacks of money with their business, and they don’t have a great deal put away to weather a crisis… let alone one of the magnitude we have witnessed.
While the government should help the small businesses in this case, they haven’t. The airlines aren’t really to blame — since they are a major employer and major cog in the machinery of our economy, they managed to get the government’s attention (and money) first. That has left the FBO operators high and dry without a financial safety net to assist them.
While the flight restrictions have been lifted in some areas, other areas and their FBO operators are still suffering under extra regulations that make their business difficult, or nearly impossible to conduct. The bottom line is simple: unless something changes quickly, a good number of FBOs may soon have no choice but to go out of business!
WORSE YET, SOME IDIOT POLITICIANS are advocating further restrictions. They are using generalities to strike fear into the public, painting a grim picture when there is no evidence to support their outrageous claims. These state and city officials are fanning fear among the general public, and if they are allowed to succeed, they may not only establish their fear-demanded no-fly zones, but also kill the aviation businesses below them!
Idiot Politicians, One Example Of Many: Recall that commercial aircraft (read: the ones used in the attacks) were the first to be allowed back into the air — without fortified cockpit doors or improved security measures — while little airplanes (read: those not used in the attacks and incapable of rendering similar devastation) remained grounded. Last we checked, anyone with a driver’s license can still rent a truck and leave it just about anywhere they wanted … even after one was used to blow up the basement of the World Trade Center in 1993 and destroy the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
…but I digress.
Here are five ways you can help yourself while helping your FBO keep their head above water (and their banks at bay).
- Where possible, GO FLYING. This will burn gas, which when refilled, will bring much needed revenue into the typical FBO. If you rent planes, this will get the FBO’s revenue producing aircraft back into the air, and generate money.
- HOW’S YOUR OIL? Most of us could stand an oil change. Call your FBO, and ask him to perform one on your plane. While you’re at it, you can have him inspect and grease your landing gear.
- HAVE A MINOR SQUAWK? Don’t wait for your annual — ask your FBO to fix it when they have time.
- HOW ABOUT YOUR TIRES? Do you have a bald spot on one? A tire that is weather checked? If so, have your FBO change the tire or tires. Don’t forget – when you change the tire, change the tube!
- CALL OR WRITE TO YOUR CONGRESSMAN AND SENATORS, AS WELL AS ANY GOOFY MAYORS AND STATE OFFICIALS. Explain how the ground stop has nearly killed General Aviation’s support and infrastructure. Stress the need to provide assistance, and to LIMIT ANY FURTHER RESTRICTIONS.
While the events of September 11th have changed how and where we can freely fly, we can take actions to limit any further destructive impact on General Aviation. If you enjoy the convenience of having a nearby FBO to work on your plane, or the ability to get fuel for your airplane or even rent a nice airplane, take the hints that we have provided above and get busy. While this may cause you to spend a little money now, most of the items in the list are things you would be doing later, anyway. Plus, you’ll be making an investment in General Aviation and helping to assure that good FBOs will remain in business, to service aircraft and offer rental aircraft across our great and beautiful nation!