For over 80 years the pilot has been a constant in the world of fixed base operators or FBOs. Without pilots, there would be no FBO. In 1930, 4 years after the first regulations for aviation were passed, pilot training and regulations were standardized. This brought the era of the Barnstormer to a close. Before 1926, pilots would purchase aircraft from military surplus at low prices. They would then fly around the country offering rides or other services to townsfolk. Due to safety regulations, this practice died out as many pilots could not afford to keep their aircraft in order to the standard of regulation.
Licensing and Certification
There is a popular misconception that pilots receive licenses. This isn’t technically true. All pilots in the United States receive a certification. These certifications can be revoked by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) if the pilot is in violation of certain regulations or has broken a law. A license must be revoked through a court of law.
Types of Certifications
There are a number of certifications that pilots may have. The lowest is Student. These pilots may not fly an aircraft without a pilot that has full certification or without an instructor. A student pilot can receive endorsement from an instructor to fly solo, but cannot carry any passengers. Those pilots that have received the Sport certification may not cary more than one passenger and may only fly light sport aircraft in the day. Recreational pilots can fill four seats and may only fly in the day. The Private certification allows pilots to fly for pleasure or personal business, but not to collect payment.
Further certifications are Commercial, Instructor, and Airline Transport Pilot. Commercial pilots may fly out of an FBO and charge for carrying passengers. Flight instructors teach pilots and operate from FBOs. Airline transport pilots are the pilots of large airliners.
There are ratings for the type of aircraft pilots can fly. Most of these aircraft are kept at FBO locations, though some private owners may have their own airfield. This private airfield is more of an exception afforded to those of the rich elite.
These ratings are broken down into categories and give specifications up to the type of aircraft listed in the ratings. These ratings include airplanes, gyroplanes, helicopters, and balloons.
Pilots in most FBOs will have a rating for private or commercial flight. These ratings and certificates will determine what the pilot in the FBO can do, from aerial photography to advertising to air taxi service. Small FBOs will more than likely have one or two commercial certificated pilots while larger FBOs may operate out of a commercial airport and employ all commercial or airliner pilots. To learn more, talk with an FBO consultant.