Pointless poll or marketing ploy?

In the May 15, 2014 EAA Hotline email there was an interesting article in the Member Benefit Spotlight section. It reported the results of a Fuel Survey purportedly taken in March by the Experimental Aircraft Association with 13,000 replies by members. The findings were rather interesting: 87% of members are using primarily 100LL and 12% are using autogas.

As I digested this finding, a pertinent question came to mind: If 12% of members are tenacious enough to use mogas when only 3% of our airports carry mogas, why didn’t EAA ask the membership: “How many members would use mogas if it was as available at the 3,000+ airports that carry 100LL?”

The other principal finding was actually a marketing ploy: “73% of members fill up at self-serve pumps and the majority (58%) would like to see EAA offer a discount program tied to a fuel card.”

I find in incongruous that EAA members wanted a “… discount program tied to a fuel card …” but didn’t ask EAA to support mogas fuel infrastructure at airports, a program that would produce significant fuel savings, to say nothing of reducing aviation’s lead footprint.

The final conclusion made it obvious that this “poll” was really masking a marketing ploy: “We’re also working with FBOs encouraging them to offer fuel discounts to people flying to AirVenture Oshkosh and we have more in the works!”

The one effective “… more in the works!” that EAA could work on would be to convince the FBOs at the Oshkosh airport to make mogas available. It is the ultimate irony that there are 17 airports throughout Wisconsin that provide mogas, but the airport where EAA, the father of the mogas STC, has its headquarters and hosts AirVenture does not offer mogas to the thousands of aircraft that fly in for the annual event.

If EAA were serious about reducing fuel costs for its members and reducing the lead footprint of general aviation, it would support mogas infrastructure upgrades on our airports instead of trying to market its co-branded Visa card as a fuel discount card that only profits EAA.

Hopefully, next year’s Fuel Survey will be an honest poll to not only find out how EAA members are fueling their aircraft, but also how they would react if a more diverse fuel choice was available and what they are planning to do if 100LL suddenly disappears before the vaunted unleaded 100 octane replacement fuel is found.

Comments

  1. Thomas West says

    I was purchasing ethanol free unleaded premium sub-grade directly from one of the refineries in Phoenix AZ for my planes. It is called sub-grade premium because the unleaded premium coming from the CA pipeline is no longer 91 octane but 88.5. Since it is now AZ state mandate that highway auto fuel contain a minimum of 10% ethanol, 88.5 is all that is needed as a “base fuel” to get to 91 octane with the ethanol added. Since my STCs only requires 87 octane I was good on that point. I used this fuel for several years in various planes with no problems at all. However, Airworthy AutoGas put a stop to it! They went to the refineries’ management and advised them to not sell the fuel to me because it was dangerous and exposed them to liability. They used the excuse it was not ASTM D4814 certified like the fuel at the auto gas station must be for most states. I spoke to Peterson Aviation and they said some states don’t even require ASTM D4814 certified fuel at the auto pump and most likely the “base fuel” would by default meet the ASTM D4814 standard anyway. Airworthy AutoGas is not our friend. I was saving $2 a gallon and Airworthy AutoGas plans to undercut 100LL by only a fraction of that; if they ever get there act together and actually start providing a product…

  2. David Gaeddert says

    I kind of follow Swift Fuels. e-mailed them about progress, no response. e-mailed Lycoming about their list of what fuels were approved for what engine, got the response to “keep watching.” Any other no ethanol, no lead, 100 octane possibilities out there? A nation that *could* put men on the moon and return them safely cannot even fuel GA properly anymore.

  3. Sam says

    Anything new from the Airworthy Autogas folks? I think that comany will really help to legitimize the Mogas industry.

  4. unclelar says

    I was hoping that the new EAA President or whatever they are calling him now would actually do something tangible to help the rank and file. He has done some good, after all he isn’t the big-shot rear-end that his predeccesor was. He has also managed to get some good people on the board for the first time in a very long time. I just wonder why this much improved board doesn’t demand that more effort be put forth on this subject. We have over 60 airplanes at my country airport and practically all of them could and would use non-ethanol high octane mogas. The ones that can burn 90 octane already purchase nonethanol locally and haul it in. I have to use 93 since I have an 0360 and the places I can get it are too far away.

    • JS says

      The EAA showed their true colors when they capitulated to the FAA on user fees. What the membership wants vs the EAAs primary funding source (Oshkosh Fly in), the membership lost. Just follow the money. Warbirds and high performance operators have the money and want a 100LL replacement regardless of the cost. That is the only thing EAA is willing to support. If you want MOGAS, you have to make it happen. You’re up against the Avgas suppliers using scare tactics to keep the FBOs from carrying MOGAS. They start off with horror tales and lawyer stories, then resort to threatening to cut off supplying Avgas if the FBO chooses to sell MOGAS as well.

      I have beat on our local airport with no gain for years. Now I use a 99 gal tank in the bed of my truck with electric pump, proper venting and grounding, and haul my own. It really irks me that I pay road taxes rather than aviation taxes on the fuel I use, but that’s because those in the position to bring MOGAS to the airports would rather see sport aviation die than spent the money up front to carry a second grade of fuel, even though 30 years ago they willing carried both 80/87 AND 100LL. I save roughly $200 for every tank of fuel I haul to the plane vs buy at the pump and my engines appear to be running cleaner and require less maintenance.

  5. Dr. Ken Nolde says

    I also use 5 gal cans and a modern syphon hose system to refuel my CTLS, and I use 100LL only when I am on the road. However, my FBO is sympathetic, but it is strictly an economic decision not to get a pump with 91 Mogas–it does not pay. So I “pump Mogas at more than a dollar a gallon cheaper than 100LL and enjoy the flying. I have not given up my AOPA or EAA memberships as they are valuable assets. So, grin and bear it.

  6. Ed Rosiak says

    What this tells me is that the majority of a avfuel fuel, 100ll, is used by aircraft with high performance engines unable to use auto fuel. My aircraft is an example of that. Having auto fuel on an airport does not benefit me.

    The avfuel infrastructure in place serves 100ll and jet fuel. Adding auto fuel is a huge expense that airports are not going to take on until there is statistical evidence that the market has switched to auto fuel. I don’t see that happening anytime soon. At least not until an alternative that serves the customers who require 100ll is created.

    • Kent Misegades says

      No offense, Ed, but you are in the small minority of less than 20% of all piston aircraft that can not use mogas today:

      http://generalaviationnews.com/2012/07/12/new-study-shows-autogas-can-power-80-of-piston-aircraft/

      With the new INPULSE water-injection system, all high-performance aircraft can be easily modified to run on inexpensive mogas. This will be the only resort when Avgas goes to $20/gallon in the US as it already has in many parts of the world.

      FBOs and Avgas producers do not want to lose the high margins they now make on Avgas and Jet-A. They’d rather see sport aviation die completely, it seems, and with it flight schools, maintenance shops, hangar rent disappear, and complete rural airports disappear.

      • John says

        I agree with you Ken and can’t help but think of the old saying “be careful what you wish for” as $20 per gallon avgas will stop this sport flyer and ultimately a high percentage of the flying public period.

  7. Paul Tipton says

    Thank for article. It would be nice to see more mogas available. I have to carry mine in 5 gallon cans to fuel up. Iuse avegas only as a last resort. My airport doesn’t even respond to inquiries about the availablity of mogas anymore. I haven’t seen any support from AOPA or EAA for mogas. I gave up my AOPA membership, EAA may be next.

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