When you think about it, general aviation makes up a large part of the aviation industry. It includes all planes other than those flown by the airlines or the military. Though nearly 78 percent have six or fewer seats, about 65 percent are used for commercial or public service purposes.
A little more than five years ago, immediately following 9/11 (a distant memory...hardly), much of general aviation took a big hit, grounding almost 90 percent of GA aircraft in 30 metropolitan areas. In commercial aviation, according to Henry Paulino, general manager, Landmark Aviation, "People thought, 'oh my God, aviation is going to stop!'" And even though the GA industry was collectively losing an estimated $160 million a day and an initial dread set in, the experience was quite the opposite for FBOs.
Less than a year later, in the spring of 2002, sales of private aircraft continued to strengthen due to the introduction of new plane models and growing interest among companies to travel by private jet—a trend that had taken hold even before the terrorist attacks because of frustrating delays with commercial airlines. Add to that the growing desire to cut travel time as business travelers faced security-related delays with the implementation of the TSA, and you have a recipe for success.
Fast-forward to 2007. More companies have purchased fractional shares, there has been an increase in chartered flights and FBO budgets have greatly improved line items such as renovation, remodeling and new or refurbished GSE and maintenance equipment. More than 150 years in the making, Landmark Aviation is one of those success stories.
Landmark represents the junction of three leaders in the industry; Piedmont Hawthorne, Garrett Aviation and Associated Air Center whose core area of expertise—one of the world's largest FBOs, aircraft modification and maintenance—compliment one another. "Landmark Aviation is really a conglomerate of what we call legacy aviation companies," states Millie Becker, vice president, sales and marketing at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y. "With the Carlisle Group as our parent company and MRO … and the continued growth of general aviation, Landmark is positioning itself to be the premiere service company to this sector of the industry."
With 35 fully owned and operated sites stretching from coast to coast in the U.S. and Canada, Landmark has an extensive network of FBOs, all of which provide general aviation operations with trained line technicians and full service facilities. "We are looking to be the leading service provider to the general aviation market as well as the airline market … because at this airport and other airports we also provide the fuel services to the airlines, so we really do it all," says Becker. Landmark boasts a list of more than twenty services including, but not exclusive to, deicing, fuel/jet/avgas, cleaning/detailing, lavatory service, catering and of course, maintenance.
Equipment at the White Plains facility includes 28-volt GPUs, two Lektro 8800s, a Northwestern tug, a potable water and lav cart, eight fuel trucks, a Global deicing truck, a scissor lift and fork lift.
A Deep-Seated Community
Like the ground support community, both Paulino and Becker will tell you the GA community consists of individuals who are dedicated, garnering close relationships and who have been in the industry for a long time. Also like ground support, "general aviation is a really small community and we really do the same things in the private world of aviation, just on a smaller scale," says Becker.
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Fixed Base Operators offer a look inside the day-to-day business of customer service on the general aviation side of the airport ramp, reports Michelle Garetson. October 2003 What is an...