Why does 100LL cost so much?

Recently, we received a number of emails concerning the cost of 100LL at various locations, as well as the cost of 100LL vs. Jet A. Obviously, there is still a lot of confusion about this, so I thought I would try to shed some light on the issue.

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Technically speaking…

BenVisser

The quest to find some answers at Oshkosh

In my last post, I had the gall to be less than positive about things at the Oshkosh airshow. I was surprised at the positive feedback about similar experiences. However, our publisher, Ben Sclair commented that to see Oshkosh through the eyes of a new aviation enthusiast is like a kid on Christmas morning — it is one of the greatest experiences ever (A suggestion for keeping the magic of AirVenture alive) And he is absolutely 100% correct.

But where are they going to find 500,000 new aviation enthusiasts every year? Since they are not available, they are going to have to depend on repeat visitors. And why do pilots return to Oshkosh, pay for their transportation, fight large crowds, and pay $250 dollars for a small hotel room? Well, most of us do it to learn what is new and to get answers to our many technical questions.

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Oshkosh changes bring a bit of sadness

BenVisser

One of the highlights of my summers is a trip to Oshkosh, Wis., for the annual AirVenture show. The best parts of the show are seeing what is new and catching up with old friends.

Since I have been going to this show for about 30 years, I have noted a lot of changes. I assume that the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) has a master plan for all of the moves, [Read more...]

GAMI’s search for an avgas alternative

GAMI's Tim Roehl (in back) and George Braly in the company's test cell.

Recently, my wife and I decided to take a road trip to Texas to visit friends and fill up on good Cajun and Tex-Mex food. On our return, I stopped to visit GAMI — General Aviation Modifications, Inc. — in Ada, Oklahoma.

GAMI builds and sells a line of parts designed to improve performance for a variety of aviation applications. It is best known for GAMI injectors. The concept of the GAMI injectors is to even out the variation in air/fuel ratios for all the cylinders of an engine. This, combined with proper instrumentation, will allow the pilot to operate on the lean side to peak. I know many people think that operating on the lean side is operating on the dark side and can harm the engine. However, if done properly, it can be done with little or no problem. There are several advantages to operating on the lean side, but the biggest is that you can decrease your fuel consumption by a very significant amount.

GAMI’s latest project is to design an unleaded fuel that will satisfy the same engines that presently require 100LL. There are presently three approaches to finding a replacement for 100LL.

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The effect of lower octane fuel on your airplane

BenVisser

Last week I was watching TV when I heard a loud clap of thunder and saw a flash. This was followed by the lights going out and the very sickening sound of electronics going bye-bye from the computer desk.

The next morning the lights were back on, but the computer had sacrificed its life to protect a $4 surge protector — and with it all of my files of questions I have received for this column. I am going on my memory as to questions, and we all know that our memories are the second thing to go when we get older. I do not remember the first.

I do remember that several weeks ago I received a question from a couple who operate an FBO. They had a source of 93 R+M/2 premium motor gas that they were selling to LSA and STC’d aircraft. Then their supplier informed them that the octane quality was being reduced to 92, and then some months later, it was reduced to 91. They were wondering what they should do.

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Avgas Economics 101

After I wrote about my visit to Swift Fuels, I received several notes asking why it would be so difficult to determine a price for the finished product. I have a good friend who runs an auction company and when I ask him what something is worth, he usually replies, “Whatever someone is willing to pay for it.”

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The staggering chicken test

In response to a previous column in which I expounded on the problem of exhaust valve recession with unleaded fuels, I received a note from Ron Newberg, which reminded me of work done by the oil companies back in the early 1970s. I actually ran some of these tests, in which we demonstrated that Tri-Cresyl Phosphorous (TCP) added to an unleaded fuel reduces the amount of exhaust valve recession. It worked well. Since TCP is approved for almost all aircraft piston engines, it is an immediate approved solution for the exhaust valve recession problem. But, alas, nothing is that simple. TCP will work, but it has some health concerns.

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Our fuels expert visits Swift Fuels

Swift4

Swift Fuels has been working on a 100 octane unleaded avgas for a number of years. I have been, shall we say, less than enthusiastic about the company’s work for various reasons.

However, as of late, the company seems to be making some real progress, so I drove down to Indiana to visit its facility. I am happy to report that although Swift is not “out of the woods” yet, it is making some significant progress.

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