How business aviation works in Russia (FBO centers)
If you go around Sheremetyevo Airport, you can see a small terminal A, which from time to time takes under the protection of the FSO, if on this day one of the first persons of the state flies out with a business jet.
If you have about 90 million rubles a year to maintain your own plane (and the plane itself will also come in handy), then your departure looks like this: you get outside this terminal A from the car, go through an inspection in 30–40 seconds, if the flight is foreign - passport control (it is mandatory for everyone), then right across the field go to the plane 50 meters from the terminal, sit down, fasten your seat belt and fly.
From the moment you get out of the car, and until the moment you get on the runway’s prestart, it takes from 8-15 (domestic flight) to 15 minutes (international). Baggage can be sent in advance.
Now let's figure out how it works and who needs it at all. And also what good business jets are.
What are good business jets?
Many jets were created using developments from fighter jets (for example, Dassault Falcon). In fact, these are civilian versions of military fighters. Of course, they are "calmer" in terms of possible maneuvers, but they have a very, very good power supply.
If you see a three-engine small business aircraft - most likely, it was bought for transatlantic flights. The peculiarity is that each ship has a maximum distance from the airport, and three-engine ones allow you to cross the Atlantic with a rather short route - almost directly.
The second feature - you can take a lot on board. If these are cargo planes, then they mustrather carefully calculate the departure time, because when the temperature rises during the day, the air becomes less dense, and you can not take off with the right amount of fuel and cargo. In business aviation, the schedule moves almost constantly: why don't the noble don fly 40 minutes later if you want? But a similar situation (historically for the last 10 years of FBO practice in Sheremetyevo) has created a take-off problem only once, and not in Sheremetyevo itself, but at the airport high in the mountains.
This also means a short take-off (1,000 meters for almost any jet), that is, the minimum requirements for the length of the strip. In Sheremetyevo, this also means a shortened take-off procedure, which makes it possible to wedge into the schedule and go through without waiting in line. In other Russian airports, there are no special procedures for such “Whack”, and they are in the general queue. The coordination of this procedure with the FBO A-Group took several years. They showed international examples to the airport management, proved the effectiveness in schedules and so on.
Unlike large heavy planes, business jets are worse in resisting the wind, so this imposes slightly greater restrictions on landing conditions for the weather.
Still, these vessels often fly in the upper echelons, can rise up to 13-14 kilometers: there the air is more rarefied, and this allows you to develop greater speed and more efficient use of fuel.
How is a business jet different from a private jet or charter?
From the point of view of standards in Russia, there are few differences. From the point of view of Western regulatory standards - up to 19 seats (therefore, this is usually the case with us as well). This is a historically established criterion. We can conditionally say that business aviation begins where the owner of the aircraft does not sit at the helm himself and where the toilet appears on the plane. The exception is the large sides for the transport of Russian national teams, but this is a separate case.
The most popular vessels in Russia today are the Challenger-300; they usually make 12-14 seats in it.
Why do places have a plug? Because very often business jets are made with individual salons. Within one type of vessel, the layout is very different. For example, if a small vessel is used for charters - there are more seats, there is no flight attendant post, the kitchen is only for heating. If this is a businessman’s private plane - often fewer seats with a large stride, sleeping for the main passenger, often a shower. Quite often there is a large kitchen with the ability to cook anything directly on board and with a refrigerator.
In Europe, light aircraft have historically been used; in our country they are medium and large, because the country is large, and you have to fly far. Here is what is roughly popular in our country:
- Bombardier Challenger 600/650
- Bombardier Global Express / Global 5000
- Dassault Falcon 7X
- Gulfstream g550
- Embraer Legacy 600/650
- Bombardier challenger 300
- Gulfstream g650
- Hawker 800
- Cessna citation
- Dassault Falcon 900
More business jets often upgrade faster - the on-board equipment of the latest or penultimate releases.
Who needs such airplanes?
These flights are off-schedule and off-route. Flights of the same Aeroflot sign for years to come and do not change much. And in business aviation, a flight is usually planned in 2-3 hours, and you can fly in any direction. The only “but”: you can’t take and turn to Copenhagen in flight if you fly to Minsk, because you have to follow a previously set flight plan.
Contrary to popular belief, not only oligarchs use business jets. For example, there are corporate jets for transporting delegations for negotiations. Often there are own boards of large companies with many branches in order to fly around half the country in a day or two, which on regular flights would take two weeks. Considering that you can often spend the night on an airplane, like in a hotel, this is quite justified in saving time for top management. The same sides are used for the transport of urgent goods and parcels.
Athletes, musicians and politicians often use business jets to avoid unnecessary attention and relax. All equipment can be loaded onto the plane in advance. There are definitely no fans or paparazzi in the terminal.
In the world, business jets are also used for ambulance aircraft, that is, transportation to hospitals (in Switzerland, about a third of the Pilatus fleet - aircraft with a huge door for loading a stretcher - for this). We have almost none of this, because it is rather the task of the helicopter fleet of the Ministry of Emergencies.
A separate area of business aviation is boards for sports teams. Unlike regular business jets, almost ordinary passenger airplanes are used for such flights, but the FBO infrastructure is used.
What is FBO?
This is Fixed Base Operator - a provider of ground-based infrastructure for business aviation. They are often called "private terminals", and this is almost true. FBO “A-Group” in Sheremetyevo, for example, has its own hangars for storing aircraft and helicopters, its own machines for de-icing, its own infrastructure for servicing and refueling, and the whole terminal A. This
whole door opens:
FBO is an airport for business jets. This is part of the business aviation infrastructure. This is hard. Software lies on top of it: for example, a business aviation airline (operator) is used for commercial management. In FBO, the aircraft is stored and serviced, as well as departures and arrivals. Also, the FBO is not involved in the sale of flights and booking: it is the work of operators and brokers.
All this is necessary because it is not enough just to buy a plane. Private ownership is not easy in itself, but if you suddenly use a plane for commercial purposes (you and your family can, someone else can’t, or it’s very difficult), then you need to actually wrap it in the airline, because the requirements for any commercial flight will be the same rigor as for the passenger flight of Aeroflot. And this almost automatically means a staff of 30–50 people for maintenance: an engineer, three pilot shifts, three conductors shifts, a legal service, and accounting.
Another feature is that just keeping the plane on the ground is not very profitable. Many owners to reduce costs allow their planes to be used for private flights of other people. That is, they actually rent them out. But this is made out a little differently: you can give the plane to the operator, and he will take orders and manage all reservations. And when you need it - the board will be in the right place.
Virtualization of aircraft in such companies serving business jets has reached the level that if suddenly your aircraft is busy for an unexpected urgent flight, then you will be given the same free if necessary. But you need to understand that for the owner this is not earnings, but simply a convenient cost reduction. Shared ownership is still common in the USA and Europe: a group buys an airplane in a fold, share the clock equally. Everyone receives conditionally 20 hours a month, and everyone agrees how and when they are used. Share expenses. They can hand over the plane to the charter - but when needed, they use it.
Back to the infrastructure. In addition to the terminal, there is a special platform for business aviation. We need our own equipment and special equipment. For example, your type of towing, your own refueling.
These small electric cars make it possible to very accurately place light aircraft in the hangar.
Initially, these were deck tractors from aircraft carriers in order to quickly transfer and move in the opposite direction.
Aprons for business jets, by the way, differ from conventional aircraft. Airplanes are lightweight, and this building will not add up the engines to start near the building, so they leave on their own traction, they do not need to be towed. Business jets don't need ramps: they are usually built into the board itself.
In Russia, FBOs are usually attached to airports, and in the USA and Europe often FBOs have their own airports, or there are common airports only for FBOs without regular regular aviation. In Heathrow - 11 FBOs based on one airport-supplier. In Moscow, there are FBOs in SVO, DME and VKO, and in Sheremetyevo, in addition to the A-Group itself, there are two more virtual FBOs that use the A-Group infrastructure, but have their own mini-terminals. In Petersburg in Pulkovo - two centers. In Paris, at the Charles de Gaulle airport, linear aviation lands, but Lebourg - only for business aviation (there is a museum and the famous show there). In normal times, there are three to four FBOs. They have a common runway and four different infrastructures. Cannes cannot be flown on a regular flight, but can be reached through the business airport. Regular aviation - through Nice.
The option “grandparents flew into SVO with a backpack and went to see Red Square” with us happens quite rarely. In the same Paris - more often. And we will talk about it for years. Here, in fact, grandparents flew in once. And during the World Cup, Pilatus landed for eight passengers. Finns just flew in to watch football on their plane.
On the other hand, in show business the approach is diametrically different. Jackie Chan, Ambassador Ambassador, flies by himself. Travolta has five planes, and, in addition to small jets, there is also a Boeing 707 - a healthy airliner. In Dubai, the attitude to private helicopters is generally like a taxi: you can accidentally call Uber-Heli instead of a car, and it will cost very sane money.
In Europe, business terminals often do not look very presentable. A house with a pilot's room, reception is easy. But there are, like palaces, for example, in the UAE. Both there and there will be 30-50 passengers a day, but Asian or Middle Eastern can look like a museum. In the USA and Europe - a consumer approach. FBOs in America look like our gas stations. In Russia, the specifics are as follows: when a person flies from Moscow to such a booth in another country, he is fine. The key is hanging on the door, I’ll print the documents myself and go - acceptable. But as soon as he flies here back - you need normal comfort. The barn will not do.
The passenger most often chooses the FBO at the airport and queues at it. More precisely, an experienced user of business aviation. Inexperienced does not always know the difference.
Now there are rumors that the airspace of Moscow will again be opened for flights at low altitudes (not only for transit). Now many people use helicopters in business aviation, and near the terminal there is a helipad with a night start. This means that you can get to any place in the region very quickly, because the helicopter can land even on the roof, even in the field. And in Moscow itself there are enough buildings that can equip sites on the roofs. Now, 14 skyscrapers are being built next to Crocus, each with its own platform (but they are in the open part of the space). In Moscow, now the government and the Ministry of Emergencies (medical, in particular) are flying. But coordination is complicated. Helicopter transport is a growing segment of business aviation, because the speed is 260-280 kilometers per hour, and the range is 1,200 kilometers.
Links Tutu Aviation:
- We thank colleagues from A-Group for conducting the tour and assistance in creating materials.
- Cargo flight
- Flight preparation for pilots
- The history of on-board catering and our rating of the “tastiest” airlines