Pilots want mogas support from AOPA, EAA

There is a surprising gem among the results of the AVweb Avgas Survey published on Oct. 6.  This statement really caught my attention: “Nearly two thirds of respondents told us they think AOPA and EAA should get more involved in trying to get mogas on more airports.”

Five years ago, Barry DiSimone and I wrote an “Aviation Mogas Proposal” where we pointed out, “We need to get everyone in aviation, especially the alphabet groups, Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), USUA, etc., to get behind a program to encourage airports to make mogas service widely available.”

You can read the entire proposal and the reason for it at this link.  We sent it to the EAA and the AOPA. It obviously had no effect whatsoever.

Hopefully surveys like this will have more impact on the aviation alphabets, because it’s doubtful we have another five years to ensure mogas availability for aviation, especially considering that the FAA and EPA don’t seem to know that ethanol-free auto fuel is an approved aviation fuel and they appear to have no interest in ensuring its availability in the face of the unintended consequences of the federal RFS mandate in EISA 2007.

Contributed by Dean Billing

Comments

  1. niel petersen says

    I strongly suspect that there is a lot of unrealistic dreaming by the alphabet groups on the likelihood of finding a drop-in replacement for 100LL. How many engines are running right now on candidate fuels? I’ll bet not one. Note how the FAA has a task force set up to propose the requirements for the new fuel. That’s the easy part.

    And can you imagine the price if such a magic fuel is ever found? Imagine the combination of hydro-carbons necessary to reach 100 octane. Look at the knock resistance, heating value, vapor pressure, range of the over 100 most common hydrocarbons will anyone with a shred of technical skepticism realize how impossible this magic fuel will be to create in quantity.

    I contend that slightly reduced compression and performance will be necessary for there ever to be a universal unleaded fuel. MoGas has so much going for it. It is too bad the corn lobby and others have us in such a strangle hold.

  2. says

    The idea is great for everyone in GA, There is a problem for us in Kalifornia. The government is too busy protecting us from from ourselves. All mogas has at least 10% ethanol, sometimes more. Anyway, I really hope it does work out for everyone else.

    • Kent Misegades says

      Jeff,

      You are thinking of gasoline at gas stations that indeed contain ethanol. Gas though at fuel terminals contains no ethanol since that it is where it is first blended before being trucked to gas stations. Mogas at airports is delivered by truck from a fuel terminal, not from a gas station. If fuel suppliers in CA wanted to sell mogas, they could, there are no restrictions in CA on the use of ethanol-free fuel for off-highway vehicles. This is not that difficult.

      Kent

  3. Greg W says

    Good news that the alphabet groups may get more involved with this. On the local level I have attempted to put across a “recreational” viewpoint as to the operation of our county GA airport. Those efforts came to naught after three years I gave up. I was told once by the chairman that I had “nothing of value” to bring to a committee despite myself being the only person at the table with 30 years of experience in G.A., both as pilot and mechanic. If a national organization were to be advocating Mogas, then airport boards like I have dealt with would perhaps listen to them.

    • Kent Misegades says

      Keep trying Greg. GA is in dire straights, and airport managers these days appear desperate for any idea to get people flying again. As far as the EAA and AOPA are concerned, we have heard this before but good intentions were not followed by any action. Kent

  4. says

    Kent, please send it to them again. I was enroute to Ft. Worth last week thinking about this very issue. My company and I were asked to participate -along with 7 others- in a presentation at AOPA’s Flight Training and Pilot Community Summit, where we discussed new and innovative ways to grow the pilot population.
    As cost is a key reason for the decline of GA, and fuel is a huge part of that, it would seem industry support for increased access to mogas would be a given. However, it is not. I hear about liability/insurance issues, contracts with avgas distributors that prohibit mogas sales, fears about quality, lack of access to mogas without ethanol and a litany of other structural reasons why we can’t have this.
    Yet, hundreds of airports provide mogas access seemingly without issue, and reasonable-cost infrastructure solutions exist. It would seem natural that the alphabet groups would WANT to get more involved and have ACCESS to the expertise needed to resolve these issues -many of which are not issues at all if the facts are made clear.
    AOPA Summit showed me that AOPA is a different animal than it was the last time you sent your proposal. They seem more willing to try, as the current situation seems grim. New leadership and the active work of the Center to Advance the Pilot Community seem to me to be good things for AOPA -and for us.
    Fuel is a big part of the equation, and I think it is safe to say that lower hourly costs means more hours flown and more people who can afford to fly.
    Send it again. For all of us, send it again.

    • Kent Misegades says

      Len, behind the scenes a group of us has attempted frequently over the past three years to educate the alphabets and solicit their support for mogas. At a minimum we’d like them to know the difference between fact and myth surrounding mogas (most still don’t), and confirm publicly what most pilots know – that mogas has been an FAA-approved aviation fuel since 1982, when the EAA obtained the first STC after a decade of intense research, testing and validation from the FAA. The only aviation leaders who really took the time to get the facts and who speak out in favor of mogas have been Paul Poberezny (R.I.P.), Dan Johnson (LAMA) and Roy Beisswenger (PSF, USUA). Of course fuel costs determine how much most pilots fly, or whether they continue to fly at all, but for some strange reason the alphabets don’t or won’t see this. Perhaps it’s pressure from major Avgas sellers who fear erosion in nice margins on the sale of fuel, but not offering a lower-cost alternative for those who can burn mogas is tantamount to gas stations only offering premium fuel, although perhaps only 10% of all car owners need it. My airport manager friends tell me that only one in ten piston planes are flown regularly these days as a result of high avgas prices. It is a fact that 80% or more of these planes could legally and safely burn mogas. Perhaps when only one in 20 airplanes are flown regularly, and more aviation businesses close, our so-called leaders will decide that offering a choice and lower costs will result in more activity – which I’d call ECON 101.

      • says

        Yeah, exactly. Here’s my comment to TMill below. Let me know what you think and let me know if I (or Aviation Access Project) can help.

        Here’s one thing the alphabets can do -and do well:
        Create the “Aviation Mogas Task Force”
        This would be housed in the AOPA Center to Advance the Pilot Community (as nothing would do more to advance the pilot community than lowering the cost of flying) and be run by a VP-level staffer. The mission of the AMTF would be:
        1) Educate pilots on the use of mogas/promote use via alphabet media (mags, web, etc.)
        2) Educate stakeholders on the facts regarding mogas use in aircraft/distributed on airports. This includes FBOS, aviation fuel distributors, mogas fuel distributors (who’d love new customers, right?)
        3) Legal and financial support to those wishing to install mogas distribution points on airports. (Grant programs, legal support, competitions for ideas, etc.) (I am NOT saying pick a vendor and give them money.)
        3) Create and disseminate best practices of mogas use on airports
        4) Develop and support pilot programs for providing access to mogas at airports. (Yes, this one would cost money, but success would grow aviation, so it is worth it.)
        5) Conduct, analyze, and promulgate research findings of the pilot programs.
        6) Advocate for any necessary changes in laws or FAA regs.
        7) Champion the use of mogas as a way to greatly reduce the cost of flying.
        8) Make sure mogas is part of any conversation regarding initiatives to lower the cost of flying within the alphabets.

        • Kent Misegades says

          Great ideas – I suggest you propose these to EAA and AOPA headquarters. They stopped listening to us years ago. All they need to do is ask us for advice and expertise and we’re happy to give this, free of charge. Add to your list that type clubs, the EAA and AOPA should pool their money and fund the testing needed for the missing STCs for the 20% of aircraft that currently need Avgas. Most could probably be handled by Petersen Aviation. Kent

  5. Rich says

    Instead of asking an AOPA and EAA to travel hundreds of miles to make such a simple request, why don’t pilots just put on their big boy pants and go to their local airport board meetings and politely make this request on their own?
    C’mon people is this really where you want AOPA and EAA to spend your dues money?
    You vote in your own community for your own mayors that appoint these dopey boards.
    Call up the mayor, arrange for a ten minute meeting, put on some decent clothes and show up with good arguments as to why this is a good idea and set the wheels in motion.
    And get your pilot friends to go to board meetings and do the same thing.
    Your local mayor doesn’t give a rip about some guy wearing an AOPA shirt that will be gone the next day but they might listen to someone or some group that has the ability to boot them out of their cushy job.

    • Kent Misegades says

      Rich, I certainly agree that a grassroots effort is essential to bring mogas to more airports. That is precisely why this blog exists, and also why a few of us formed the non-profit Aviation Fuel Club a few years ago. I am happy to report that our efforts have, in part, led to an increased number of airports selling mogas, as well as Dean Billing’s important web site listing all of these as well as their fuel’s AKI rating.
      http://www.flyunleaded.com/airports.php

      One needs however to address this problem both from the bottom up and the top down. Most airport and FBO managers get their information on fuel from their Avgas supplier, and none of these know much about mogas. What they often tell these managers is far from reality and borders on fear-mongering or even direct threats to any attempts of competition from another product. That is not American, but it is reality at many airports. Other sources of mis-information are the alphabet leaders themselves, who are either ignorant on mogas or pursuing another agenda, for instance the insistence we all accept a one-size-fits-all, expensive, still non-existent lead-free replacement for avgas. The alphabets could help by getting the facts straight and putting a stamp of approval on mogas. They could use their paid lobbyists in D.C. to do something about the terrible ethanol mandates that are flooding our fuel supply with a fuel few want. Heck – they might even do something radical – like work to get mogas onto the airports at EAA headquarters in Oshkosh or AOPA headquarters in Frederick! We have attempted to convince managers at both airports to do this, with the support of local pilots, but the will from the EAA and AOPA to make this happen simply does not exist. Until they wake up, we must continue as you suggest with grassroots efforts, one at a time.

  6. TMill says

    As long as there is fuel to burn, it is not urgent. Prevailing attitudes are “there will always be fuel for my aircraft”. They don’t assimilate your 5 year warning. What exactly do you want the alphabets to do? When customers continue to buy new aircraft that only use leaded gas it sends the wrong message to engine manufactures.

    • says

      Here’s one thing the alphabets can do -and do well:
      Create the “Aviation Mogas Task Force”
      This would be housed in the AOPA Center to Advance the Pilot Community (as nothing would do more to advance the pilot community than lowering the cost of flying) and be run by a VP-level staffer. The mission of the AMTF would be:
      1) Educate pilots on the use of mogas/promote use via alphabet media (mags, web, etc.)
      2) Educate stakeholders on the facts regarding mogas use in aircraft/distributed on airports. This includes FBOS, aviation fuel distributors, mogas fuel distributors (who’d love new customers, right?)
      3) Legal and financial support to those wishing to install mogas distribution points on airports. (Grant programs, legal support, competitions for ideas, etc.) (I am NOT saying pick a vendor and give them money.)
      3) Create and disseminate best practices of mogas use on airports
      4) Develop and support pilot programs for providing access to mogas at airports. (Yes, this one would cost money, but success would grow aviation, so it is worth it.)
      5) Conduct, analyze, and promulgate research findings of the pilot programs.
      6) Advocate for any necessary changes in laws or FAA regs.
      7) Champion the use of mogas as a way to greatly reduce the cost of flying.
      8) Make sure mogas is part of any conversation regarding initiatives to lower the cost of flying within the alphabets.

      I’d help.

      • Tmill says

        Point 1: Educate
        Good one! I find few pilots are aware of issues. This confusion and lack of interest to be educated is partly result of “optimistic media” and their “need to be liked”. I have read several articles that hype future fuels that could save the day. Yet these articles avoid discussion about realities of price and distribution. Then there are the STC’s for Mogas. Also, experts write that LSA Rotax are only designed to run Mogas which is not true. They burn E10, avgas and Mogas.

    • Kent Misegades says

      Fuel prices impact flying activities. When high prices ground aircraft, airports lose fuel revenue and eventually people stop flying. Then hangar revenue and shop revenue drops. Ask Sportys and Aircraft Spruce how sales have been the past few years – it is not only a matter of fuel revenue.

      The only sector of the GA manufacturing industry that is growing is LSA – and nearly all those planes are TC’d for mogas. Tecnam, the world’s largest maker of aircraft, has a policy that all its aircraft should be able to run on mogas – including their new 11-seat twin commuter. Only a small percentage of new factory built aircraft need Avgas anymore. Few people I know would consider buying a plane that is dependent on a fuel that continues to rise in price and will eventually disappear.

      • TMill says

        Most Rotax Engines can burn all three fuels. The fuel systems (piping, connectors, tanks) must be special to use alcohol mixed fuels. As stated most Tecnam aircraft are designed to burn and deliver all three fuels.

        • Kent Misegades says

          Yes, but, any Rotax repairman (my son is one) will tell you that the best fuel for a Rotax is 91+ AKI ethanol-free gasoline, aka mogas, the fuel for which it was designed. It is TC’d for up to E10, but why burn a fuel that has less energy (= less power and range), and brings all kinds of problems? Using Avgas in a Rotax requires the use of an expensive lead scavenger like Decalin and the oil must be changed at half the normal interval. Nevertheless, it was wise of Rotax, and Tecnam, to make their products more tolerant of multiple fuels. Contrast this to the stubborn, one-size-fits-all, effort from the FAA to force a single, high-octane fuel on everyone. Can you imagine if a gas station only sold premium fuel? They would not stay in business very long.

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