What happened in October?

Dating back to 2009 when I created the FlyUnleaded.com website to publish those airports that offer mogas, I have monitored the AirNav avgas statistics and published them in a table at the bottom of the Airports With Mogas page on my website. Back in July 2009 AirNav reported that there were approximately 132 airports that claimed to have mogas service on the airport. Now this figure has to be taken with a grain of salt because AirNav counts any airport that has mogas in the FAA Airport Directory Airport Services section. Some of these listings are obsolete.

Take, for instance, Bob Hope Airport (KBUR) in Burbank, Calif. The FAA section says that mogas is available in the Fuel Available section of the Airport Services section. This has not been true for years, but this listing remains.

There is no mogas available at any airport in California, but there are three listings that I know of in the FAA information portion of the AirNav listings and I’m sure they contribute to the airport count.

Two of them are anchorages, not physical airports, and while there may be mogas available for aircraft at these lakes, I would not advise that you fill your seaplane at the marina because the gasoline probably has ethanol in it.

Up until a little more than a year ago, there were six anchorages in California that listed mogas availability, but it is clear a number of those got updated so I don’t know why the other two still have listings. I know for a fact that one of the listed anchorages is seasonal and isn’t even open in the winter. Go figure?

As you can see from the table at the bottom of my mogas airport list, according to AirNav we were losing airports with mogas at a steady rate until about November 2010 and it oscillated through May 2012 when the number of airports with mogas started climbing again and peaked in August of this year at 119, a figure not seen since March 2010.

During this entire period my website total for the number of airports with mogas service was always less than the AirNav total airport count, usually by five or six. I always attributed it to the fact that AirNav included obsolete FAA Airport Directory data that hadn’t been verified in years, i.e. Bob Hope Airport.

My count has been creeping up in the last year getting closer to the AirNav count, even though we lost an airport in September, but we have gained two since then.

A strange thing happened when I went to add the November AirNav counts to my summary table. It had dropped precipitously from 118 at the beginning of October to 113 at the beginning of November, a reduction of five airports, which was extremely unusual. The usual change from month-to-month had been plus or minus one or two airports, sometimes three.

And even stranger, the AirNav count is now less than my count, which has never happened. If you remove the three bogus airport listings that I know about in California, the AirNav count is now six less than my listing count.

I have, in fact, been expecting the AirNav listing and my listing to start a negative trend. The ethanol blending quotas in the federal RFS mandate in EISA 2007 should take every drop of gasoline produced in the U.S. E10 by the end of this year. Ethanol will begin  “piling up” at terminals next year, with no place to blend it. This would mean the end of aviation mogas.

There is no way to determine how AirNav accounts for its mogas statistics and which airports change in the listings. The authors of this blog have tried repeatedly to contact AirNav to exchange information, but to no avail.

The reason that I started flyunleaded.com was to report AKI, which AirNav does not list, and is very important to flight planning if flying cross country on mogas.

FlyUnleaded.com information is only as accurate as the pilot reports or FBO reports of service that are passed along to me. That is why I also include a verification date column, and I update it any time somebody forwards information or I make contact with the airport and verify the information. Readers might be surprised how many airports do not answer their phones.

I would appreciate it if people who read this blog would contact me through the email link on FlyUnleaded.com if they know of a status change at an airport that I have listed.

If we are to believe AirNav, several airports stopped selling mogas last month, but I have heard nothing about it and there are a lot of airports in my list that are difficult to verify.

I do know that a number of airports upgraded from 87 AKI to 91 AKI mogas in the last year and that is to be expected as ethanol spreads into all of the auto gasoline pool.

A huge amount of 87 AKI ethanol gasoline production disappeared during the recent fall blending changeover when refineries changed to producing suboctane Blendstock for Oxygenated Blending (BOB) in the middle of the country, which took all of the regular, 87AKI, unleaded gasoline to E10.

That is the major reason why we lost mogas at Minden, Neb., which is ironic because it is the town where Petersen Aviation is located, the largest supplier of mogas STCs. Go figure?

Contributed by Dean Billing

Comments

  1. Now that would be awesome if the EPA could get rid of ethanol, but I am afraid is all the did was lower the amount that needed to be blended to save face.

  2. Stu Brown says:

    Kent,

    I saw reports of the EPA considering the reduction or elimination of the ethanol requirement. The article stated, ethanol has not lived up to expectations, cost too much to produce and there is or will be an ethanol shortage. You are a lot closer to what is going on, do you have any additional information?

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