For many years, AAR Aircraft Services has operated the sole FBO at Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport, and it seems that activity is heating up at
the field. First, the grand opening of AAR’s new FBO there is planned for
this month, and dignitaries including Oklahoma governor Brad Henry and Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett have been invited to participate. In addition, FBO chain Atlantic Aviation is building a new FBO.
“We have some pretty influential people flying into Oklahoma City,” said Stan Mayer, general manager of AAR Aircraft Services, the company’s Oklahoma City facility. “This is the face of Oklahoma City and we needed something new and modern to show that Oklahoma City is moving and growing with the rest of the country.”
AAR bought the former Aircraftsmen FBO in the early 1970s and added some renovations over the years, including a pilot lounge and offices. The problem with the old facility, according to director of FBO services Chip Smith, is that the building wasn’t designed as an FBO. Instead, the FBO was grafted onto a maintenance hangar that was never supposed to accommodate a facility oriented toward frequent transient travelers. To get to the lobby, for example, customers had to climb a set of stairs in the hangar, cross over a maintenance shop, then enter the FBO. The new facility, which took a year to build, was designed from the outset as a modern FBO.
Smith and his colleagues looked at other FBOs to get ideas for the new facility and conducted a customer survey to find out what amenities should be included. High on the list were shower facilities, easier access to the ramp and an expanded flight-planning room. The new facility includes all those and about 2,000 sq ft more space, a large pilot lounge, a business center with computers, snooze room, conference room, 50-inch plasma tv, coffee and snacks, crew cars and Enterprise rental cars on-site. The open layout means that customers no longer have to snake their way through the maintenance hangar to get to the ramp but instead walk straight through from the street-side entrance to the ramp doors.
The street side features an overhang to protect arriving customers from inclement weather, and the overhang is part of an elegant streamlined airfoil-shaped roof that extends over the entire building. The spacious lobby carries through the airfoil theme, with curved beams across the top of the lobby, which is lit by natural light flowing through tall windows underneath the wing-shaped roof. The lobby is broken up into intimately grouped seating areas.
AAR’s ramp is enormous, and customers can drive onto the ramp but must be escorted by AAR personnel. The new AAR FBO is open 24/7 and is a Phillips 66 fuel dealer. Catering is available, and if customers are interested, concierge services will be offered.
AAR Aircraft Services at Will Rogers provides maintenance for airliners as well as a propeller overhaul facility. Line maintenance is available for FBO customers, and some also fly into the airport to have propeller work done. AAR Aircraft Services is part of AAR Corp., which is headquartered in Wood Dale, Ill., and employs more than 6,000 people at 60 locations in 13 countries. AAR is involved in commercial, government and defense products and services, including maintenance, engineering, logistics and fabrication.
On the eve of the opening of the new FBO, Smith said he was excited about the new facility. “It’s something we’ve been dreaming about for quite some time. It’s really a step in the right direction, a great-looking facility and great for pilots.” –M.T.