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.
We have estimated that aviation would produce 176 fewer tons of lead annually if all the aircraft that could be using Mogas (91 octane ethanol-free gasoline) in the U.S. would stop using 100LL (Avgas) and switch to Mogas. Here is our reasoning:
If general aviation uses about 200 mgy of leaded avgas/yr. (according to EIA in 2009) and 80% of these aircraft (those that could be using Mogas instead of avgas) represent 40% of that avgas consumption, that is 80 mgy. Since avgas contains around 2 grams of lead/gallon, that represents 160 million grams, or 357,750 lbs., or 176 tons of lead that wouldn’t spewed into the environment each year.
The best part of the Mogas solution is that it costs very little to achieve, is a drop-in replacement for avgas (and can be mixed with avgas), has a 20-year record of safety and affordability, and will save pilots 25%-100% annually on fuel costs, depending on where they now buy 100LL.
What would be required to get Mogas at our airports?
- The EPA prohibits the blending of ethanol in premium (91 or higher octane) gasoline, assuring a supply of the fuel. There are millions of other consumers who would welcome this since hundreds of millions of engines in vehicles/boats/ATVs/snowmobiles/classic cars/etc. and most vehicles built before 2001 should not be run on ethanol blends.
- Airports are supported — through various federal and state programs already in place for airport improvements — in their acquisition of an additional small self-service fuel station for Mogas. Between 4,000 to 10,000 gallon capacity would be quite adequate for most.
No modifications are required of these aircraft other than in some instances the purchase of a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) allowing the use of Mogas. These cost well under $1,000. There are already some 60,000 aircraft in the U.S. now with these Mogas STCs.
We estimate that within two to three years these pumps could be in place and, with it, a near halving of the levels of lead pollution now created by aircraft in the U.S. The positive impact on the affordability of flying would be very significant.