A wise man once said, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, then you have evidently not grasped the gravity of the situation.”
Late in 2011, a little known environmental organization, perhaps totally unknown in aviation circles, Center For Environmental Health (CEH) filed a lawsuit against “30 companies that sell and/or distribute lead-containing aviation gas (avgas) at 23 California airports, calling on the companies to provide safer alternative fuels.”
Phase 1 testing of four possible replacements for 100LL begins this month at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City.
The four unleaded fuels — one from Shell, one from TOTAL, and two from Swift Fuels — will undergo laboratory and rig testing to analyze a number of factors, including materials compatibility issues with aircraft components, such as fuel bladders, fuel gauges, pumps and more.
Last December, Shell Aviation revealed that it was the first major oil company to develop a lead-free replacement for 100LL.
The lead-free formulation is the result of 10 years of “exhaustive R&D,” according to company officials.
While some worry that large companies will forsake GA as it is such as small segment of the fuels market, Shell officials say that’s not true for them.
When I started to write this post on unleaded avgas, I sat down to read about the upcoming evaluation program for four candidate fuels. The more I read the more questions it raised.
For instance, why does Swift Fuels have two candidates?
But the biggest question concerned the percentage of the piston aviation fleet that the new candidate fuels will satisfy. A few questions arise, like which engines are the most critical, under what conditions will they knock, which airframe, propeller, operating conditions are most critical, and on and on.
Fuel is the lifeblood of aircraft and pilots. Most aircraft need it to power their engines; pilots need it, in the form of oxygen and proper nutrition, to power themselves. The November issues of General Aviation News will turn the spotlight on fuels — all kinds — and look at the current state of affairs, as well as what we can expect
As always, we’d love to hear from our readers. Email General Aviation News Editor Janice Wood with your feedback.
The FAA has awarded Crown Consulting a five-year $12.5 million contract to assist the agency’s Aviation Fuel and Engine Test Facility (AFETF) at the William J. Hughes FAA Technical Center in performing research, test, and engineering analysis to develop standards and aid in selecting unleaded gasoline for general aviation.