The Christmas shopping season provides us with clear evidence that consumers prefer choices, and businesses respond accordingly. Recent news shows that fuel sales are no different.
How often are we told that aviation fuels are superior to other fuels as they must meet one common, exacting worldwide standard, are produced with more stringent controls, are transported, stored, filtered and dispensed from dedicated equipment? Given these tough requirements, one would expect contamination or misfueling to be near impossible, yet it does happen. Here are four different incidences from recent years:
As reported recently, the Havana Regional Airport (9I0, Havana, Ill.), located 31 nm SW of Peoria, offers lead-free, ethanol-free mogas from a 24/7 self-service pump. When pilot Michael Gallagher stopped by recently to top-off his RANS S7S, the pump was out of order. Ken Smith, a spokesman for the airport, quickly responded that the problems have been solved, but commented on the availability of mogas versus avgas there:
GAfuels readers already know of the many advantages to using mogas in aircraft approved for its use. Not only does its save them $1.40-$1.50 per gallon compared to avgas, but these pilots are making real progress in reducing lead emissions from general aviation, the only significant consumer of leaded fuel on the planet.
While your bloggers would always recommend obtaining aviation-grade mogas directly from a fuel terminal, and have it delivered and stored in aviation-grade fuel equipment at your airport, in many instances the gasoline obtainable at retail gas stations and marinas is quite suitable for aircraft, provided it has the correct octane (AKI) rating and contains no ethanol. It is absolutely necessary to check each and every batch of fuel obtained from retail sellers of gasoline for the presence of ethanol, regardless how the pump may be labeled. (Fuel contamination is rare, but occurs for every type of fuel, including avgas and Jet-A).
The new site includes the means to quickly determine if a mogas STC is available for your engine and airframe combination. The choice of airplane images on the web site depicts the wide range of aircraft that are covered by Petersen STCs, from the Piper Cub to the Douglas DC-3.
There is a rather clarifying paragraph in the EPA Notice published Nov. 16 that denied a waiver on ethanol blending quotas that was requested by several states, resulting from the effects of the drought on the corn crop this summer. I turn your attention to pages 27-29 of the document, which clearly outlines the changes happening in the gasoline production environment and portends the end of premium unleaded gasoline as we know it:
Mark Wiley of Murfreesboro, Arkansas,who flies a 1963 Piper PA-28-235 Cherokee, contacted your bloggers some months back when his efforts to lower his costs lead him to mogas. Since then he has obtained a mogas STC from Petersen Aviation, installed a simple fuel system next to his hangar, and found a fuel supplier that brings him 93 AKI ethanol-free mogas in small loads. He recently reported on the savings he’s seeing and how he intends to use them:
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that the United States will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading producer of oil by 2020. Due in part to the remarkable yields enabled by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and directional drilling, [Read more…]
The northeastern region of the U.S. is one of the RFG (Reformulated Gas) Areas where the EPA dictates the use of an oxygenate in gasoline to lower carbon monoxide emissions. In the U.S., ethanol is the most common oxygenate, in addition to it raising a fuel’s AKI (Anti-Knock Index, commonly called octane) rating by about 2-3 points. Oil companies, realizing a means to lower the cost of refining, typically deliver a sub-octane fuel known as BOB (Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending) to fuel terminals in there areas, where ethanol is then blended into the fuel. This is the reason that in RFG areas one has difficulty finding ethanol-free fuel, as can be seen by comparing the RFG map to Pure-Gas.org map.
Without ethanol, BOB’s AKI rating is only 84, below the needed 87 for the cheapest Regular gas. BOB is not a legal “finished” fuel until ethanol is added. Thus, any disruption in the supply of ethanol (such as a storm or ethanol rail car explosion) will affect an oil company’s ability to provide finished gasoline. Prior to Sandy’s making landfall, this CNBC article summed up the danger simply: “Bottom line — if we run out of ethanol we run out of gasoline.”