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Summit Aviation

Embraer Phenom 300

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Value-based approach leads to peak growth for Summit
Summit is realising some high charter volumes and adding to its Phenom fleet. President and founder Ben Walton talks through the impact on the charter, management and training divisions of the company.
Summit Aviation has a brand new Phenom 300E and three more will follow over the coming year.

Montana-based Part 135 Summit Aviation has added a brand new 2022 Embraer Phenom 300E to its charter fleet. Last year it added three Phenom 300Es to its charter fleet and achieved status as the largest Phenom 300E fleet worldwide. Another is set to be delivered from the factory this July and two more will land with it next year.

Operating nationwide, this newest aircraft joined the rest of Summit's floating fleet just a few days after delivery. “We're very excited,” says president and founder Ben Walton. “It allows us to provide our customers with expanded options and better coverage.”

Headquartered at the Bozeman Yellowstone International airport, Summit Aviation is a comprehensive aviation company specialising in Embraer products and operating nine Phenom 300 aircraft. “The Phenom 300 is really perfect for our operations,” he says. “It not only has great range, but its performance is excellent for mountainous airports, which we go in and out of all the time.”

In addition to facilitating the acquisition of several Phenom 300Es for clients direct from the factory, over the past few years Summit has also facilitated the purchase of several Embraer Praetor aircraft, some of which reside in its managed fleet. “After Flexjet, we have the next largest managed Praetor fleet in the US,” he continues.

The company is in the process of constructing a new headquarters building on its home field at the airport. “We've definitely outgrown our current space,” he says. “It's very exciting to see all the growth and where we're headed as a company. There are a lot of different ways to grow. How you go about that makes all the difference in the world.”

Most new business has come from referrals and word of mouth: “We're passionate about providing extraordinary customer service and exceeding the expectations of our clients. We love taking care of our aircraft owners, and they're happy to tell their friends about the experience. Positive referrals are a huge part of how we've come to have the largest fleet of new Phenom 300Es.”

Summit can source pilots through its university flight school programme in Bozeman, Montana. “We have the opportunity to train pilots on how they should operate from day one and are able to observe how they conduct themselves, not only as a pilot, but also as a person. It ends up serving as a several year interview where we are able see if they are fully aligned with our core values,” explains Walton. “We get to know them for the next few years as an SIC before they're eligible to upgrade to captain. By the time they get to that point, it's a comfortable and seamless transition for everyone, and it's awesome to have the kind of confidence in your pilots that we have. In turn, we get to pass that confidence on to our owners and our charter customers, and that's not something you can put a price on.”

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