As General Aviation News reported yesterday, the FAA has issued a long-anticipated request for proposals for a lead-free drop-in replacement for avgas.
As described in the agency’s press release from June 10, “The Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today asked the world’s fuel producers to submit proposals for fuel options that would help the general aviation industry make a transition to an unleaded fuel. The FAA is committed to the development of a new unleaded fuel by 2018 that would minimize the impact of replacing 100 octane low-lead fuel for most of the general aviation fleet.”
One has to wonder if these same officials read the aviation press, especially recent reports on the widespread use of mogas as one of a number of different options available to pilots outside the United States?
Even more amazing is the agency’s incorrect claim: “There are approximately 167,000 aircraft in the United States and a total of 230,000 worldwide that rely on 100 low lead avgas for safe operation.”
As the authors of this blog determined last year by a simple analysis of the FAA’s own, publicly-available Registry of Aircraft, well over 80% of all piston engine aircraft in the U.S. are legally and safely able to operate today on mogas, either through a low-cost STC or the aircraft’s original type certificate. Surely these same officials saw the well-publicized news last year of the FAA-certified water-injection system from INPULSE that could allow virtually any high-compression engine to operate on mogas?
While the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results) is one explanation for the FAA’s continued determination to pursue a failed policy of one-and-only-one fuel for our aircraft, there must be saner, more logical reasons for the agency not simply allowing free markets to sort out what is best for aviation in each situation.
The same companies that produce and deliver avgas and Jet-A are fully capable of producing aviation-grade mogas and bringing it to our airports, just as they do in Europe.
Aviation fuel is exempted from all ethanol blending mandates (otherwise avgas would contain it). Fuel equipment manufacturers offer small, turnkey self-service fuel systems that can be easily financed without the need for airport funding and that pay for themselves in a few years, refuting one of the more common reasons cited against a multiple-fuel solution.
Can anyone provide a logical explanation for the FAA’s continued insistence on dictating a one-size-fits-all solution to aviation’s needs?