As reported recently, the Havana Regional Airport (9I0, Havana, Ill.), located 31 nm SW of Peoria, offers lead-free, ethanol-free mogas from a 24/7 self-service pump. When pilot Michael Gallagher stopped by recently to top-off his RANS S7S, the pump was out of order. Ken Smith, a spokesman for the airport, quickly responded that the problems have been solved, but commented on the availability of mogas versus avgas there:
“When Havana was approved to build the fuel tank system they could only afford two tanks of 750 gallon capacity. After the completion they have since found that there is not a problem of refilling the mogas tank but finding a supplier to fill the 100LL tank is a different story. At the present they cannot find anyone to only deliver a small quantity of 750 gallons of 100LL at one time.”
The root of this problem is found in the tiny, aviation-specific infrastructure needed to supply the 3500+ FBOs selling avgas in the US, contrasted with over 110,000 gas stations selling gasoline, an FAA-approved aviation fuel since 1982 (provided it contains no ethanol and meets a few other simple requirements).
Exacerbating the problem and cost is the fact that, due to environmental concerns over lead, avgas must be shipped in dedicated trucks or rail cars, far more expensive than pumping mogas and jet fuel in pipelines. The volatility in avgas prices has in the past several years led to speculation even at the level of FBOs, with many waiting until tanks are critically low before making purchases. This has resulted in spot shortages in 2012, especially in the mid-Altlantic and southeastern states.
The GAfuels Blog is written by two private pilots concerned about the future availability of fuels for piston-engine aircraft: Dean Billing, Sisters, Ore., a pilot, homebuilder and expert on autogas and ethanol, and Kent Misegades, Cary, N.C., an aerospace engineer, aviation sales rep for U-Fuel, and president of EAA1114.