Industry Encouraged By Next Step In Collaborative Process For 100 Low-Lead Fuel Replacement

FAA selects four fuels for initial testing.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The aviation industry is encouraged with the announcement made September 8, 2014 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has selected four unleaded aviation fuels to undergo initial testing in the search for a viable alternative to leaded avgas. Those fuels – two from Swift Fuels, one from Shell, and one from TOTAL – will begin Phase 1 lab and rig testing this fall at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Testing will continue until fall 2015.

“We all have a single goal: finding the best possible outcome for the widest spectrum of the GA fleet,” said Jack Pelton, EAA’s chairman of the board. “EAA stands ready to continue its active participation in this important initiative.”

The companies submitted fuels for consideration through the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI), a joint industry-government effort to facilitate the development and deployment of a new unleaded avgas that will best meet the needs of the existing piston-engine aircraft fleet.

The PAFI Steering Group includes the Federal Aviation Administration, Experimental Aircraft Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, American Petroleum Institute, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, National Air Transportation Association, and National Business Aviation Association.

After the submission process, which closed July 1, the FAA assessed the viability of the candidate fuels and evaluated the proposals in terms of impact on the existing fleet, production and distribution infrastructure, environmental considerations, toxicological effects, and cost of aircraft operations.

For Phase 1 testing, fuel developers supply 100 gallons of fuel, and successful fuels will move on to aircraft and engine testing. Phase 2, which the FAA expects to conclude in 2018, will require 10,000 gallons of fuel and will generate standardized qualification and certification data, as well as property and performance data.

There are approximately 167,000 aircraft in the United States and a total of 230,000 worldwide that primarily rely on low-lead avgas, the only transportation fuel in the United States that contains added tetraethyl lead (TEL) in order to create the very high octane levels required by high-performance aircraft engines. Operations with inadequate octane can result in engine failures.

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