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, aviation sales rep for U-Fuel, and president of EAA1114.
In the past year, your bloggers have documented the continued decline in the use of leaded avgas and its virtual disappearance in many parts of the world. Clearly, aircraft and engine manufacturers are reacting to this trend with their latest generation of products using powerplants made for ethanol-free autogas or Jet-A. Last week, the Italian company Tecnam announced its new 11-seat twin-engine P2012 Traveller.
The airplane, to be formally unveiled at the upcoming AERO Friedrichshafen show in Germany later this month, uses the 350-hp Lycoming TEO-540-A1A, an engine capable of operating on avgas or ethanol-free autogas. The P2012 is Tecnam’s second twin-engine airplane that operates on autogas, the other being the twin-Rotax powered P2006T.
The fact that the P2012 will use the TEO-540-A1A is very important for a number of reasons:
1. It is a very fuel-efficient for an engine in this horsepower category.
2. It burns ethanol-free autogas, important for many parts of the world where avgas is nearly impossible to find or is very expensive. Missionary aviation organizations such as JAARS in North Carolina have been switching to an all-JetA fleet in recent years for this reason. The P2012 will give them an interesting option to use gasoline, which is widely available in developing countries.
3. By burning autogas, the airplane produces no lead emissions, a growing problem with the public around many airports. See, for example, the news about a citizen group opposed to GA-generated lead emissions at the busy Vero Beach airport in Florida.
4. By burning autogas, Tecnam lowers the cost of operation of the aircraft even in countries where avgas is widely available. Ethanol-free autogas is generally 50 cents to $1.50 less expensive than avgas at airports in the U.S. where it is offered.
Your bloggers commend Tecnam and Lycoming for setting a new standard for future light aircraft by employing an engine capable of delivering great power using affordable, lead-free, ethanol-free autogas. Tecnam is represented in North America by Tecnam North America, headquartered near Richmond, Virginia. Clearly, with this latest example of cutting-edge aviation innovation from Italy, contrary to many reports, General Aviation is far from being dead in Europe!