Sunset for avgas?

In recent months your bloggers have been contacted by a number of environmental reporters on the issue of leaded aviation fuel, for instance Sarah Zhang of Mother Jones, mentioned in this Jan. 28 posting.  More recently, Rebecca Kessler, a science and environmental journalist based in Providence, R.I., published an article titled “Sunset for Leaded Aviation Gasoline?” in Environmental Health Perspectives, which  according to its website is “a monthly journal of peer-reviewed research and news published with support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” Over the course of the past three months, Kessler did her homework well, contacting many individuals involved in this issue, including your bloggers. As with Sarah Zhang’s article, we believe that she has provided an accurate, balanced portrayal of the various aspects of the replacement of leaded avgas, and we commend her on her work.


  1. Tim says

    I’m building an experimental aircraft with a Lycoming IO-360. Thinking about getting a 100-150 gallon fuel trailer and buying ethanol free mogas from a local supplier. My research says I can buy a small take trailer and accessories for under $4000. Mogas 91 octane Fuel (E0) can be purchased directly for about $0.50 above typical 87 octane road fuel E10 at any gas station.

    • Tim says

      Let me edit:

      …I can buy a small tank trailer and accessories for under $4000. Mogas 91 octane Fuel (E0) can be purchased directly for about $0.50 above typical 87 octane road fuel E10 like you find at any gas station.

  2. Tony D says

    Many years ago I received (purchased) an STC to use MOGAS in my Piper TriPacer. I hauled it from the local gas station in 10 gallon jerry Cans, put it in my aircraft, then added TCP (lead) to avoid damage from pre-ignition in my Lycoming engine. It ran flawlessly for two years, until I sold the aircraft.

    I got by fine without AvGas. Mogas is cheaper, but less convenient.

    I’m sure there are issues with high performance engines (IO-540), but a solution is out there somewhere.

    Centerline and fly safe

    • Dennis Reiley says

      Pity you didn’t have your own field to base your aircraft at. Then you could have mounted an old fuel oil tank on a stand with a gravity feed. Any fuel company would have then came out and filled it after you had added the TCP. You would have saved yourself a lot of trouble and saved the highway taxes on the fuel with a “farm” use delivery.

  3. Larry Maynard says

    I’ve been flying for 36 years both military and civilian. Even though I have been exposed to lead from avgas I haven’t really gotten sick or, ” huh, duh, duh, uhm, what was I talking about?”

    Seriously though, it is well established that lead is bad for your health and I am all for a practical solution to removing it from aircraft use. I am also a strong proponent for having non-ethanol mogas more widely available. I now have to haul non-ethanol 93 octane mogas in my pickup from a source 22 miles away to my airport. Not the best solution of course for a myriad of reasons. I would be extremely happy to see mogas sold at airports on a regular basis and would most definately fly much more often.

    My problem with the article cited is the same problem I have with most of these environmental type’s writings. Note the use of the following phraseology throughout the article; ” potential, estimated, one study, probably, not conclusively implicated, we feel like, etc.” I am also suspect of the motivations of these same people. They are in the “environmental business.” This is who they are and what they do. If they did not exagerate and postulate on dire outcomes from certain activities they would be irrelevant and have no reason for being in this line of work. From a scientific point of view it is laughable to estimate the causes of reduced IQ points in children without a heck of a lot of more real, scientific studies and not just associational studies full of the same kind of vague wording.

    So, let’s get the lead out of avgas or better yet, make mogas more widely available and stop running around claiming that the sky is falling.

    Thanks Kent and keep up the good work.

    • Par Brown says

      You yourself think that lead should be removed from avgas, presumably because, as you say, “it is well established that lead is bad for your health.” Yet when an “environmental type” writes the same thing, the sky is falling? What am I missing? Better she be forthright about the fact that there haven’t been many studies than to make a bunch of wild claims about avgas killing people.

  4. Dennis Reiley says

    Trouble is that replacement for 100LL should have been available in the year 2000. After all unleaded fuels for cars arrived in the seventies and even high performance cars had an unleaded substitute before the year 2000. The aviation industry has seriously harmed itself by fighting the demise of 100LL. Right now there is only one source and there are still aircraft that need 100LL. A replacement for 100LL will arrive, but it will be years later than it should have.

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