In this industry, details matter. And, so does time. We take every measure to minimize imperfections and ensure that what we deliver to our customer is our very best work – even if it means sending the piece back to the supplier for touch up before it goes out the door for good. But the back and forth takes time, which in return stresses a timeline for completion.
So if during the assembly process we find that CAD is damaged, or light scratches have occurred, we’re going to repair it one way or another. In the past, back to the supplier it goes… but not anymore. We’re now certified to do CAD touchup in-house on Boeing, Kodiak, and Northrop Grumman products that have less than 5% of the surface area affected. And THAT means we shorten lead times and improve our internal agility.
Happy is the customer who gets their delivery on time, as promised, and that meets our high quality standards.
We love taking full ownership of our work. It means signing our name to projects we know have our expertise carved into every precise measurement. It’s doing little things that make a big difference in the quality of our output. And as of recently, it’s means adding thread rolling and splining to our list of in-house capabilities, so that we can better create exterior profiles of virtually any kind.
If you’re familiar with rolling/splining, you already know that the benefits (vs cutting) are great: the process results in stronger threads, precise final dimensions, good surface finish, and a lower coefficient of friction. In addition, rolling is generally faster than cutting since the shaping process only requires a few passes. We’re talking high accuracy in a matter of a few seconds!
On our new LMT axial thread rolling head, “the rolls swivel along their horizontal axis, so that the workpiece/rolling head is axially shifted around the thread pitch with a full revolution. Since the rolls ‘traverse’ axially over the workpiece, they can produce threads of any length and with diameters of 1.4 to 230 mm.”
This tool has been a great addition; it’s another way we’re really proud to set ourselves apart from much of our competition.
Did you know that Summit Aviation offers paint services in all three of its locations, including manufacturing? That’s right. Summit has different sized paint booths in each of its three facilities to provide interior and exterior painting for a variety of aircraft products.
Our largest, a 9,200 square-foot, state-of-the-art paint facility in our Middletown, Delaware, location, can accommodate aircraft up to the size of a Bombardier Challenger series. It focuses primarily on the outside of the aircraft including full paint, customized designs and schematics, stripe layouts, decals, logos etc.
Our manufacturing facilities in Somerset, Kentucky and Kernersville, North Carolina focus primarily on paint for aircraft parts of all shapes and sizes. The safety of an aircraft and its passengers could be compromised due to rusting of steel, corrosion of metals and the degradation of polymers in composites. Quality finishing of aircraft parts is critical in providing corrosion resistance and to ensure the parts hold up under pressure.
“We’re very hands-on in our paint process. Each member of our paint team knows the details of the entire job, so we work together to make sure the quality meets and exceeds expectations,” said Bill Bowling, who runs the paint department in Somerset.
From a parts manufacturing perspective most of our paint processes are focused on priming, painting, and some masking. Based on the project specifications, we alternate between a flat and semi-gloss finish, and the paint is applied with a handheld spray gun, though an airbrush is used for accuracy on smaller parts.
No detail is overlooked by our paint teams; we love taking a solutions-based approach to everything we do.
John Ackerman’s heart attached itself to airplanes when he was drafted to the Army, and it hasn’t let go of them ever since. He’s been flying for more than fifty years; he has so many heartwarming stories of his travels that his biography will surely fill multiple volumes. In fact, he’s recently turned 80 years old and has cleared 53 years in the air (that’s definitely FAA-award-worthy!).
John is Summit Aviation’s resident expert on our IO-550 engine upgrade STC for Cessna 206, 210 and Bonanza aircraft. He’s had the time of his life showing pilots this STC from the get-go, which involved accidentally selling an upgrade kit to a customer while on a demo flight in a Cessna 210. Even though the demo airplane was not in great shape visually (it had no carpet, was only halfway through the paint priming stage, and had sparse radio integration), the 550TI engine package was gorgeous -- like the old hot rod days. It was fast, too, and the customer placed his order before ever knowing the price!
John’s not wrong when he says the engine sells itself, but we don’t think he gives himself enough credit… John has never underestimated the power of a handshake and a genuine personal relationship. He can detect passion, hesitation and excitement in voices over the phone, makes sturdy eye contact in person, and is as equally as obsessed with the customer’s aircraft as the customer.
From shuttling customers around while their airplane is in for maintenance, to joining them on mission trips for a better understanding of what they need their airplane to do, to answering questions via email or phone until they’re satisfied, John is up for the challenge of sharing his intense passion and IO-550 expertise with anyone. He’s never happier than when he’s in the air – his smile proves it.
As with most of our team members, Bill Bowling has a rich life both inside and outside work hours. An avid hunter and fisher, he loves spending time in the great outdoors. Originally from Leslie County, Kentucky, his parents moved to the Somerset area when he was about 3 years old and he’s been here ever since, now making a home with his wife, Anissa.
He hasn’t always lived here, though. In fact, he spent two years on the road as a professional fisherman, competing in places like Guntersville and Eufaula Lake in Alabama, Lake Hartwell in South Carolina, Lake Erie in Sandusky Bay, Ohio, and Kentucky Lake, Dale Hollow and Lake Cumberland in Kentucky.
When his family faced hard times, Bill rose to the challenge and came home. He found a local job with Summit Aviation, but he also put his creativity and resourcefulness to work by selling his handmade fishing lures and hunting knives. News of his craftmanship spread through word of mouth, and before he knew it he had a side gig he loved and still makes time for today. He also loves woodworking and thinks that maybe one day he’ll follow in his dad’s footsteps and build muzzle loading rifles.
Bill joined the Summit Aviation team nearly eight years ago, and while he started off building small assemblies with a couple co-workers, today he runs Somerset’s paint department and also oversees safety measures for the entire facility. He loves the family environment here, and never takes that for granted.
“You work at a comfortable pace, but you’re not pushed so much that you make a mistake. We’ve got good people here that we work with. Everybody works as a team, and if you have a problem or question, there’s always someone who can help you,” said Bill.