Petersen Aviation responds to GA Avgas Coalition

Letter to the Editor By Todd Petersen, President, Petersen Aviation

A recent post in GANews by Chris Dancy, Media Relations Director of AOPA, indicated that they felt they have been mischaracterized in our recent blog postings. Nothing could be further from the truth.  The GA Avgas Coalition has repeatedly ignored mogas as an alternative for aircraft owners and pilots despite our pleas to the aviation alphabet groups for support of ethanol-free fuel (E0) in light of the ever-increasing use of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply.  Now quite suddenly, we seem to have their attention.

Mr. Darcy is correct when he states that the EAA holds numerous STCs for the use of mogas, though you wouldn’t know it given their failure to place anything in their publications regarding efforts to insure a continuing supply of E0 and airport infrastructure to support it.

If the EAA has been working on Capital Hill seeking support for E0 then we are puzzled as to why members of the GA Caucus seem oblivious to it.  Nor have there been any appeals to EAA’s membership to write to Congress to object to the increasing use of ethanol.  This is the EAA’s strongest suit, having a membership that can be rallied in defense of a common cause.  Yet the EAA has remained silent on ethanol, other than to say, don’t use it.

AOPA has been even less helpful.  AOPA’s editorials on the future of fuels in this country have repeatedly ignored mogas as an option and concentrate instead only on a single fuel, a 100 octane solution, openly criticizing the concept of a two-fuel solution at every opportunity.  We challenge any member of the GA Avgas Coalition to point to a published editorial in support of mogas and mogas infrastructure, or against the continuous spread of ethanol.

The GA Avgas Coalition members have held public presentations on “The Future of Avgas” at several public forums, including AirVenture.  At these forums there has never been a representative explaining why mogas is disappearing and what they intend to do to fight it.  Nor have they supported our presentations at AirVenture through their attendance, preferring to stay away rather than participate and take the opportunity to answer questions about the future of mogas in aviation.  The GA Avgas Coalition seems to take great pride in the creation of the Avgas Rulemaking Committee (ARC), which is working only on a 100 octane solution, completely ignoring the disappearance of ethanol-free mogas in the process.  We believe the continued availability of E0 mogas is as important to general aviation as the continued production of 100LL and that this should be an equal part of the discussions held by ARC.

We understand that the GA Avgas Coalition doesn’t support a government mandate for a two fuel solution and neither do we, and we have never said otherwise.  Mr. Dancy makes it quite clear that he does not view mogas as an alternative to 100LL, when indeed it could be.  There are in fact 91-octane mogas STCs for 100/130 octane engines.  While these STCs require modifications (ADI) it certainly seems preferable to at least have a modification that is already FAA approved rather than going forth as if there is no known alternative.  The GA Avgas Coalition seems to prefer the latter, or at least their continued espousal of a 100 octane solution as the only solution, seems to indicate as much.

We object to Mr. Dancy’s insinuations about our statements and positions and insist that if anyone is mischaracterizing anyone, it is the GA Aviation Coalition who are mischaracterizing themselves as sudden proponents of ethanol-free mogas when in fact they have been fighting it tooth and nail ever since the coalition was formed.  We would welcome their joining with us now in support of mogas and the airport infrastructure to support it, and sincerely hope we can count on them

Todd Petersen is the President of Petersen Aviation of Minden, Neb., owner of STCs for Mogas and ADI injection systems for many GA Aircraft.

Comments

  1. Bart -

    “Particularly when the mogas pump will sell only about 30% of the fuel the 100LL (or equivilant) pump will.”

    Show me some real data, or are you just repeating something you heard somewhere on the Internet? I do not believe the 70/30 rule of thumb anymore. It is years old and nobody can even identify where it came from. I have heard GAMA say in public it might be about 25% of GA uses 50-60% of the avgas. The only thing everyone agrees on is that the number of airplanes that require 100 octane is declining and the total amount of 100 LL avgas used is declining about 7.5 mgy.

    Have you talked to any of the operators on the 108 airports that carry mogas? Have you asked FBO’s if they are carrying 100LL because their Jet-A brander’s require it. I know FBO’s that would drop 100LL in a heartbeat if their Jet-A supplier didn’t require them to carry it. I also know FBO’s that would add mogas in a heartbeat if those same brander’s didn’t threaten them. They know they could sell more mogas than 100LL because they also have plenty of customers with old airplanes, antiques, homebuilts and LSAs. Considering how long we have been self-fueling with mogas, we don’t have a clue how much mogas would make up your bogus 30% statistic.

  2. Todd Peterson is right on in his assessment and comments. I gave up my EAA membership and may give up my 30+ year AOPA membership due to the political way of doing business rather than helping the average pilot.

  3. Bart, 109 public airports in the US now sell mogas, and this number has climbed by a few in the same period of time that 20+ FBOs have stopped selling 100LL. Avgas production has been dropping by 3%-4% annually the past 8 years due to the shift towards turbines on the high end and mogas-burning LSAs on the low end. We started the Aviation Fuel Club (www.aviationfuelclub.org) to do just what you have proposed, and have already helped several pilot groups around the country find ways to get mogas on their airfield. In most cases, airports and FBOs have been quite supportive as they see it as a means to lower the cost of flying. There are other ways to store mogas than in $100,000+, 10,000g fuel tanks. Smaller systems and even aviation-quality trailers work just fine. Watch news at AviationFuelClub.org for announcements and resources to help all who want mogas in their airplanes.

  4. Let’s get one thing clear. There are good reasons to have a fuel available unpolluted by ethanol, but it’s use as an aviation fuel is limited by one simple FACT. In order to use it you’ll have to truck the gas to your airplane yourself! There is no reason to beleive that any significant number of fuel providers, whether privately owned or public, will set up three fuel systems, Jet A, 100LL (or it’s replacement) and mogas. Particularly when the mogas pump will sell only about 30% of the fuel the 100LL (or equivilant) pump will. The only way this will work is fuel clubs which will pay for, set up and maintain the system. Run the numbers and try to find enough pilots on your local field who’ll contribute to the project. The reality is when you add the cost of the fuel distribution system to the cost of the mogas you’re not saving any money. But the truth is, it isn’t a solution to the fuel problem we face and that is simply, TEL is produced in only one location, Europe, and could go away in a moment without any influence by FAA, EAA, AOPA, EPA, NTSB, etc. etc. etc.

  5. What is it about the unsuitability of mogas for 80% of the aviation gasoline used today that you don’t understand? While only 20% of GA aircraft flying today require leaded fuel, that 20% uses 80% of the aviation gasoline sold. Unleaded ethanol-contaminated fuel will bring conventionally-powered GA to a halt and kill a viable industry. There is no effort whatsoever to slow the effort toward a substitute for leaded fuel, but, it MUST be a SUITABLE alternative and not just something you can put in your lawn mower.

  6. The EAA wants to see their membership 100% behind a single fuel solution; One which will support the warbirds that the EAA leadership likes to fly, but the vast majority of the membership can’t afford. I don’t see them getting behind anything that has the potential to fragment their membership’s support for a single fuel (regardless of cost), or that doesn’t support fuel for the high performance planes.

    There are other factors as well including quality control of mogas production, vapor pressure of mogas, etc. But from my view point as an EAA member and chapter president that owns two planes that could run on E0, it would save me about $2 a gallon on my fuel bill vs Avgas or the even more expensive proposed replacements. Unfortunately, I have no assurance that any mogas that I might buy will be ethanol free, and I simply can not afford to risk exposing my composite fuel tanks to ethanol.

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