The GAfuels Blog is written by two private pilots concerned about the future availability of fuels for piston-engine aircraft: Dean Billing, Sisters, Ore., an expert on autogas and ethanol, and Kent Misegades, Cary, N.C., an aerospace engineer and aviation journalist.
As word of the EPA’s approval last week of E15 spreads across America, those who will be affected are finally beginning to pay attention. As Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) described in his letter to The Hill this week, 17 million boaters face the same problem that 80% of all piston-engine airplane owners do – where’s the Mogas?
Like us, most owners of pleasure water craft must use ethanol-free gasoline to avoid damage to their fuel systems, engines and fuel tanks. Since 96% of these boaters obtain their fuel at the local gas station, the disappearance of ethanol-free fuel could result in expensive or severe safety issues, such as when an engine malfunctions far from shore.
Unlike marine groups and their media, such as this article in Marlin, that have strongly and publicly advocated for a continued supply of ethanol-free fuel, our aviation alphabet groups have been largely silent, with the notable exception of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA). Since nearly 100% of all new LSA aircraft are powered by engines (Rotax, Jabiru, etc.) that are designed to best operate on 91 octane ethanol-free unleaded gasoline, LAMA has a strong interest in assuring a continued supply of Mogas.
Ironically, the disappearance of Mogas, the affordable, unleaded avgas, as an option for pilots, results in far greater use of leaded fuel than is necessary, contrary to the effort of the EPA to ban its use.
Now is the time for the leaders of the EAA, AOPA, GAMA and LAMA to join forces with other organizations such as NMMA to call on Congress to prohibit the blending of ethanol in premium gasoline, preserving an option that will not only reduce leaded fuel consumption, but significantly reduce the cost of flying.