Effect of ethanol & lead on ultralights, LSAs

Roy Beisswenger is a Gold Seal CFI for powered parachutes as well as a designated examiner. He has built, flown and serviced Rotax-powered equipment since 1993 and is a Light Sport Repairman, as well as a designated airworthiness representative. Roy’s magazine, Powered Sport Flying, and his weekly Powered Sport Flying Radio Show are popular resources for anyone interested in the lighter side of powered aviation. He recently commented to the GAFuels bloggers on the serious problems caused by 100LL and ethanol-laced gasoline in two-stroke engines: “As you know, the fuel issue is the worst for those of us flying ultralights and light sport. We don’t need lead and we really don’t need ethanol!

“For two-stroke engines, the ethanol is very bad for engines and the leaded gas fouls the rings and lands on the pistons, as well as the spark plugs,” he continued. “Two-strokes really don’t do well on ethanol fuel either. Even though Rotax is rated for a high amount of ethanol, many of the fuel delivery systems are not and that leads to fuel starvation due to fouled fuel filters. The fouling often comes from the deterioration from the fuel tank. Also, if the ethanol-contaminated fuel is left in float bowls of the Bing carburetors for any length of time, there is corrosion. That never used to happen with non-ethanol fuel.”

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.

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