US House Committee fuels future of unleaded avgas

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee last week approved funding to support continued research into the transition to unleaded avgas for piston-engine aircraft.

According to a report on the National Business Aviation Association website, the appropriation was part of the larger fiscal year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill, which was approved on a 28-21 vote, and now heads to the full House.

The committee approved $6 million to fund the transition from today’s leaded aviation gasoline (100LL) to an unleaded aviation gasoline now being researched. When it receives final approval, the funds should take the research all the way to deployment of the new avgas.

Acting on Clean Air Act requirements, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun the process of establishing standards that will allow only the use of unleaded avgas in the future. NBAA officials note the association is part of the GA Avgas Coalition calling for a transition plan that balances safety, cost, availability and ease of production with environmental concerns.

The development of an unleaded avgas is a collaborative effort between the EPA, the FAA and industry stakeholders to develop an unleaded avgas. NBAA also is a member of GA’s Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative, which is working to identify a drop-in replacement for 100LL, an option that would not require extensive modification of existing piston aircraft power plants in the fleet.

“The government and our industry are committed to finding a safe, workable solution at the earliest possible date,” NBAA’s Chief Operating Officer Steve Brown noted. “Congress has repeatedly funded research into alternative fuels, many of which are bio-based and would not contain lead. Also, they have specifically funded research into drop-in alternatives and new fuel blends, some of which are slated to enter the testing phase in June.”

Read more about the future of avgas.

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Comments

  1. That’s nice. But could they hurry it up a little as we have been waiting with baited breath far too long.

    Does anybody out there know if by FAA rules we will then all have to buy the mogas STC from Petersen or whoever or will the replacement fuel be simply mandated by law and we can then just simply fill-er-up without the STC?

    • Part of the controversy/ delay is the effort to get a “blanket approval for all aircraft. This is what happened with 100LL, very few aircraft are certified with 100LL it is allowed by virtue of being a “listed” avgas conforming to an accepted spec. (ASTM D910). Type certificates often state “100/130 minimum grade aviation gasoline” for instance it does not matter to the FAA what the gasoline is as long as it is “aviation”(currently astm D910) and 100/130,(current terminology grade 100. Both the old 100/130 (green high lead) and 100LL meet the requirement of “minimum 100/130″. The FAA also allows the next higher grade of fuel to be used until the proper grade can be obtained, ie. the 80 oct. engines etc. do not need an STC to burn “higher grade” avgas. Unleaded auto gas is just that automotive gasoline (astm D-4814, D-439) not “aviation gasoline” so the STC is required regardless of the octane rating of the autogas.

  2. Good news that some research funding has been made available again. It would be great however if funding like this could be distributed to airports to establish unleaded mogas systems. The airport improvement plane structure could be used to disseminate the funds for instillation of tanks. This would provide the majority,(70-80%), of us with approved unleaded gasoline NOW. This is likely too simple a solution and so will not happen, but it would be nice if it could. The 100 only people like to say they use the most fuel (per aircraft),okay that makes the tank/fuel farm system for mogas smaller and less expensive to serve the majority of users,a classic “win-win”!

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