This week, information regarding the UAT-ARC’s long-anticipated/long-overdue report on a new fuels approval process was leaked to the public. The most astounding revelation is that the committee is calling on taxpayers to spend $60 million more to fund an effort to find a drop-in, lead-free replacement for 100LL, while the industry is expected to chip in another $13 million.
A couple of years ago I created a website to sell aviation-related items that publicize flying on unleaded auto fuel, or mogas as we call it. One bumper sticker that I created has proven to be prescient, “What You Going To Do When the TEL Runs Out?” That date may be rapidly approaching.
Your blogger briefly mentioned the engines on display at AERO Friedrichshafen 2012 in a previous report on April 22. With Europe’s largest general aviation show now two weeks past, I thought it was time to provide a few more details. With the previous two shows having focused great attention on electric propulsion, AERO organizers wisely chose 2012 to showcase advances in piston and turbine engines, and there was a great deal to see indeed.
One of the most picturesque flying routes down the eastern U.S. coast is over North Carolina’s spectacular Outer Banks. Pilots making the trip now have an even greater reason to overfly the northern end of the Banks since the Currituck County Regional Airport added lead-free, ethanol free autogas last month.
Recently an airport commissioner in North Carolina contacted us regarding his commission’s plans to add autogas as a means to lower the cost of flying and increase overall activity at his airport. A large Shell-branded avgas supplier based in his state refused to provide autogas, but he was able to find a local fuel jobber owned by a fellow pilot who was happy to bring 93 AKI ethanol-free fuel to this small airport, even in small quantities of a few thousand gallons.
At this time, the airport’s avgas supplier provided the commissioner with Shell Aviation Bulletin SAB Q109, which originated in the company’s U.K. office in 2009. An article authored by Shell’s Technology Manager for Aviation Fuel, Rob Midgley, starts with the bold headline “Motor Gasoline — The Dangers in Aviation Use.” The airport commissioner recently sent us SAB Q109 and asked us to comment on its accuracy.
Your blogger is attending the AERO Friedrichshafen show in sunny southern Germany. Among the hundreds of exhibits are many new aircraft engines, some with names like Continental and Lycoming most Americans would recognize, but others that are relatively unknown in the U.S. While a full report will have to wait until next week, one thing is very clear: Europeans have already accepted a lead-free aviation future.
The sad news of the death of Harry Zeisloft reached us this week. As reported by the EAA, “Harry Zeisloft, who was one of EAA’s longest-serving board members and an integral part of EAA’s effort to create the auto fuel Supplemental Type Certificate (STC), passed away Sunday, April 1, in Mesa, Arizona. He was 93.”
Last month, Lycoming expanded its support for alternative fuels by announcing that it was seeking EASA approval for operation of many of its engines on the unleaded aviation fuel UL91. The company also announced it was planning to approve its new O-233 LSA engine for autogas, a clear response to engines from Rotax, Jabiru, ULPower, HKS, Hirth, AeroVee and others that have been approved for autogas for years.
In almost every article about the future of leaded avgas, this statement appears, “… only one fuel will be stocked by the FBO system.” This particular quote comes from a reply by Mac McClellen to Todd Petersen in Mac’s latest Left Seat blog on the EAA’s website. You will also find it in almost every article and editorial from any aviation alphabet organization about the modern state of 100LL avgas.
My question is why are FBO’s the sole determinant of fuel sales on an airport? The answer is because of an obsolete view of what an FBO should do.