FBO Profile: Lane Aviation

 - June 2, 2013, 2:20 AM

The year 1935 saw the debut of the timeless board game Monopoly, the retirement of baseball great Babe Ruth and the first flight of the iconic Douglas DC-3. The aviation industry also saw the start of what is today one of the oldest FBOs in the country: Lane Aviation in Columbus, Ohio. Aside from a few years during World War II when the Navy took control of Port Columbus International, forcing to FBO to relocate, the family-owned business has been at Port Columbus International Airport for its entire existence. One of two FBOs on the field, Lane provides virtually every form of private aviation service.

Home to nearly 30 turbine-powered aircraft ranging from a TBM700 to a BBJ, the 24/7 facility has six heated hangars totaling 145,000 sq ft of storage space. Each of those six hangars has its own lobby, used for different purposes. The maintenance hangar has its own street-side entrance, as do those reserved for the company’s major based clients and its charter customers.

The main lobby, located between hangars three and four, where the company receives most of its passengers, is just completing an expansion that will bring it up to approximately 2,000 sq ft. Amenities include a passenger lounge, concierge, business center, two pilots’ lounges, two sleep rooms, crew showers, a game room, four A/V equipped conference rooms, crew cars, onsite car rental, a “touch and go” food vending area, high-speed Wi-Fi and fresh baked cookies. The FBO has crew-rate agreements with several hotels within walking distance and just several hundred feet from the commercial terminal’s baggage claim, making for convenient crew swaps. U.S. Customs for American and Canadian passengers is available at the FBO’s half-million-sq-ft ramp, but other international passengers must first clear at the commercial terminal.

One-stop Fuel Shopping

The company, a member of the Paragon Aviation group of independent FBOs, has its own Part 135 charter certificate and lays claim to the longest standing unblemished safety record of any Part 135 air carrier. In 2010 it received NBAA’s Commercial Flying Safety Award for operating for 75 years with no accidents. Lane operates a Challenger 300, a Citation Ultra and a King Air 350, and manages a Citation X.

Its Part 145 Cessna-approved repair station provides maintenance on the company’s charter aircraft and can handle most tasks up to and including major inspections on light to midsize business jets. Ten technicians working two shifts staff the facility.

Lane is a rarity among FBOs in that it is co-branded when it comes to fuel. “Foster Lane founded the company in 1935 and had real problems with supply as you might guess during WWII. He vowed never to lock himself into a single provider again,” said president Brad Primm. “At one point we were actually triple branded.” Epic and Phillips 66 share the duties, which for Lane are impressive as the company has the airport’s commercial fueling contract and manages its 800,000-gallon-plus tank farm.

Retail customers have a choice of which fuel brand they wish to purchase, with pricing independently determined based on the distributor price. “It’s almost like being able to shop for your fuel without having to go to a different location,” Primm told AIN, noting that with the airline fueling included, Lane’s annual fuel flowage totals in the “tens of millions” of gallons. To support that level of activity, the company operates a fleet of 16 refuelers, ranging in size from three 10,000-gallon jet-A tankers to a 750-gallon avgas truck. Lane’s line service staff is NATA Safety 1st certified and has undergone specific airline-mandated training. “Each airline audits us,” said Primm. “We’re probably being audited by at least one airline at all times.”

The FBO also operates three deicing trucks. To fulfill its airliner handling duties, the company has a seven-bay ground service equipment shop, with tugs powerful enough to move even the Antonov An-124 freighter.

Lane’s aircraft sales department is headed by Brad Willette, who has been selling aircraft for the company for the past 31 years. Indeed, employee tenure is one of the hallmarks of the company, with many of the FBO’s 115 employees logging decades of service. “The longevity and experience of our staff is the real story at Lane Aviation, said Primm. “Our safety record is exceptionally good because of our low turnover and the professionalism of our staff. There aren’t too many situations that our ramp technicians, mechanics, pilots and managers haven’t experienced before.” In the maintenance department alone, the 10 technicians have accumulated more than 250 years of combined experience.

One of the FBO’s most beloved traditions recently made its return when the airport’s golf course reopened at the beginning of May. With a minimum 500-gallon fuel purchase, pilots receive complimentary greens fees for two and a golf cart. Lane even shuttles crews to the course and picks them up when they finish. The golf course had been closed for a year while the airport’s 10,113-foot parallel Runway 10R/28L was moved several hundred feet to allow simultaneous takeoff and landing operations. Lighting systems located on the airport property required relocation, precipitating the course closure and the redesign of several holes.