The U.S. House Appropriations Committee last week approved funding to support continued research into the transition to unleaded avgas for piston-engine aircraft.
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.
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.
UPDATE: Calls from AOPA and EAA Tuesday morning inform us Ben’s column is incorrect. Exxon-Mobil will continue the manufacture of unbranded 100LL fuel. Exxon-Mobil will discontinue branded fuel sales under the Exxon Avitat flag. We are awaiting confirmation from Exxon’s public relations people.
I recently read that Exxon-Mobil stopped manufacturing and selling 100LL. (I tried to contact them but did not receive a confirmation by press time.) What does this mean for you and your plane?
Jamie Beckett is a CFI and A&P mechanic who stepped into the political arena in an effort to promote and protect GA at his local airport.
Prepare yourself for a blatant plug. I’m going to suggest you click on a link that will take you to a General Aviation News blog post on the topic of GA Fuels. You can find the post that I was drawn into here: Legislative confusion in Maine over ethanol and Mogas.
Now you may not be a chemist by trade, and you may not even care about the debate that rages in the aviation community about 100LL and the search for a suitable replacement. But I’m willing to bet that you’re spectacularly interested in your wallet, and your personal safety. [Read more...]