Dulles Jet a flight service center, not an FBO

 - December 18, 2006, 10:00 AM

Nathan Landow doesn’t like the acronym FBO. The new Dulles Jet Center (DJC) that he and his sons built on the east side of Dulles International Airport in Virginia looks like an FBO, but he calls it a “flight service center.” It offers traditional FBO services in a facility convenient to Runway 19. The new facility, built on a 20-acre parcel that was leased to Signature Flight Support, houses 160,000 sq ft of hangar space, a three-story 25,000-sq-ft office/terminal and 400,000 sq ft of ramp space.

The only FBO service that DJC doesn’t provide is fuel; because of the terms of the lease on the Signature property, all fueling on the DJC parcel is provided by next-door Signature. Customers can buy fuel from the other Dulles FBO, Landmark Aviation, but they would have to taxi there. “We do want to encourage transients,” said Landow. “We will have a parking fee but no handling fees.”

Landow built DJC because he wanted a hangar to house his jet. The airport had no land available for individual corporate hangars but there was this undeveloped parcel that Signature had leased and that the airport wanted to see developed. The airport told Landow that if they came to an agreement, it would sign a long-term lease for the property, although Signature would retain the rights to provide fuel.

Landow expects Signature’s lease on the land to end in a few years, at which time he plans to negotiate fuel rights for DJC. Meanwhile, DJC earns a small commission on the fuel that Signature sells on the DJC property. “They’ve been good to work with,” Landow said.

The Landows visited other FBOs before selecting the DJC design. The hangar interior has no cantilever beams near the ceiling. “A straight column gives more rentable floor space,” Landow said. The 160-foot-deep hangars are large enough to fit two rows of large jets, such as a row of Challengers behind a row of Global Expresses. The massive 26-ton, 120-foot-wide doors open or close in 53 seconds, balanced by a huge counterweight, eliminating the need for what would be eight sliding doors and their associated tracks.

Landow doesn’t like to see hangars littered with toolboxes, power carts and other service miscellany, so he built 400-sq-ft storage rooms for each tenant. The back of the hangar houses shop and office space, and there is a laundry room and shower room. The terminal also offers a laundry room, showers and a full kitchen.
As of early last month DJC had about five hangar spaces with offices and shops available at $2.45 per square foot.