The New Fireblade FBO

O.R. Tambo International Airport recently welcomed its first, full service FBO, Fireblade Aviation, which will diversify the airport’s clientele to include corporate flights originating from domestic and international origins.

Fireblade Aviation is a project developed by Nicky and Jonathan Oppenheimer. The development of Fireblade Aviation is the latest chapter in the family’s long history with aviation dating back to 1936.

Fireblade offers a state-of-the-art facility equipped for passengers and crew, along with two hangars able to accommodate any corporate aircraft. We have created what we believe to be a leading global product and brand in Fireblade Aviation synonymous with the highest quality of service and attention to detail. The staff are stakeholders in the business, and are all incredibly passionate about aviation and service.


The FBO terminal building was converted from a heavily renovated pre-existing structure. The building was redesigned to provide a safe, secure, and discrete environment for clients while meeting the mission requirements of the organisation.

Implementing a new design that would meet guest expectations was not without obstacles. The architects delivered a contemporary structure that provides an atmosphere reminiscent of a boutique hotel, avoiding the traditional FBO traps of simply being a lounge with internet access.

The exterior of the building carries a contemporary theme of glass and grey steel with common structural accents integrated into the porte-cochère, covered patios and walkways. The landside of the second story features a viewing area that yields 180-degree panoramic views of the airport and surrounding areas. The airside of the building comprises a two-story glass wall allowing unobstructed views of the ramp and the two hangars.

A single, defining feature of the building is that it merges an airfoil into the structure’s architectural design, representing the edge of a wing. The top camber of the wing appears to descend through the building where the trailing edge serves as a shelter for the outdoor walkway. Finally, the aforementioned glass wall is nestled within the airfoil’s cross-section on the airside of the building. The overall effect provides a ramp presence that is simultaneously powerful and welcoming.

The architectural design of the structure is augmented in a number of additional ways. Beautiful lighting complements the gorgeous glass and steel exterior. The lighting consists of indirect and direct light sources illuminating the porte-cochère and covered walkways. The skin of the building is enhanced with randomly placed blue neon lights, while the grounds surrounding the structure are landscaped with indigenous plants to complete the exterior’s inviting feel and create a breath-taking structure.

The interior of the building matches the exterior with abundant use of architectural lighting, modern décor, and amenities that fit comfortably within any New York or Paris flat or Hong Kong condominium. The amenities provide everything for passengers and crew, including private lounges, day rooms, a relaxation terrace, spa treatments, bistro dining, a fully-equipped gym, personal showers, VIP suites, power stations and a conference room.

A major element incorporated into the interior design of the facility is that it doubles as an exhibit for local artists. Collaborating with distinguished art gallery, Everard Read, paintings and sculptures add depth and focal points while helping to blend cutting-edge design with the history and rich culture of the South African people.


Airside operations are well equipped with a new fuel farm sourced by local South African company, Tank Clinic. Two fuel trucks provide the distribution of fuel with a capacity of 20,000 litres (approximately 5,300 US gallons) each.

FBO One, developed by Amsterdam Software, powers the management of all fuel sales, inventory, and front- and back-office business workflow. The software platform is being adopted in nearly every region, including the United States with Bangor, Maine, being one of the first in the country to adopt the platform.

Hangars & Apron

Both hangars, owned by Denel South Africa, have been refurbished. Fire suppression systems enhance the safety of passengers, ground crew and aircraft while large multi-leaf doors grant access to the generous space within the hangars.

The smaller of the two hangars offers 3,500 square metres of space (approximately 38,000 square feet), while the second hangar, known as K8, offers 13,000 square meters (approximately 140,000 square feet). The apron keeps par with the hangars and is the largest feature of the entire facility, capable of handling an incredible number of aircraft, whether transient, staying overnight or longer.