Questions abound on FAA’s news about alternative fuels

Was it only me, or did anyone else find the press release by the FAA announcing that it has selected four fuels for further testing to replace 100LL this fall to be a bit peculiar?  In case you you missed it, the official press release from the FAA is here. Articles also appeared on this site, General Aviation News, and from the EAA.

None of the articles answered any of the obvious questions that came immediately to my mind, for instance:

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STC in the works for G100UL

While the government begins its testing of four potential 100LL replacements, George Braly and Tim Roehl of General Aviation Modifications Inc. in Oklahoma just finished up yet another test of their unleaded 100-octane avgas — G100UL — at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

The fuel underwent flight testing and engine block testing in one of the school’s carbureted 172s.

“No issues were found,” Roehl reports. “We just lack a couple of other tests to complete our first STC on the 172.”

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Aero Mark joins Avfuel network

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Aero Mark, the full-service FBO operating at Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA), has partnered with Avfuel to join the fuel supplier’s branded FBO network.

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Four alternative fuels to undergo testing

WASHINGTON, D.C – The FAA has selected four unleaded fuels for the first phase of testing at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center. The goal is for government and industry to work together to have a new unleaded fuel that reduces lead emissions for general aviation by 2018.

Shell and TOTAL, with one fuel each, and Swift Fuels, with two fuels, will now work with the FAA on phase-one testing, which will begin this fall and conclude in fall 2015.

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DeltaHawk unveils diesel engine for certified aircraft

If avgas, also known as 100LL, disappeared tomorrow, what would you use to power your airplane?

The folks at DeltaHawk Engines have an answer to that: A diesel engine designed for aviation.

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FAA receives unleaded fuels proposals

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The FAA reports it has received 10 replacement fuel proposals from producers Afton Chemical Company, Avgas LLC, Shell, Swift Fuels and a consortium of BP, TOTAL and Hjelmco, for further evaluation in the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI), an industry-government initiative designed to help the general aviation industry transition to an unleaded aviation gasoline.

The FAA will now assess the viability of the candidate fuels to determine which fuels may be part of the first phase of laboratory testing at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center. The goal is for government and industry to work together to have a new unleaded fuel by 2018, according to FAA officials.

“We’re committed to getting harmful lead out of general aviation fuel,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This work will benefit the environment and provide a safe and available fuel for our general aviation community.”

There are approximately 167,000 general aviation aircraft in the United States that rely on 100LL aviation gasoline for safe operation. It is the only remaining transportation fuel in the United States that contains the addition of lead, a toxic substance, to create the very high octane levels needed for high-performance aircraft.

PAFI was established to facilitate the development and deployment of a new unleaded aviation gasoline with the least impact on the existing piston-engine aircraft fleet. PAFI will play a key role in the testing and deployment of an unleaded fuel across the existing general aviation fleet, FAA officials note.

Congress authorized $6 million for the fiscal year 2014 budget to support the PAFI test program at the FAA Technical Center.

“The FAA, the general aviation community and the Environmental Protection Agency are focused on this issue, and we look forward to collaborating with fuel producers to make an unleaded aviation gasoline available for the general aviation fleet,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

On June 10, 2013, the FAA asked fuel producers to submit proposals for replacement fuels by July 1, 2014. The goal is to identify, select, and provide fleetwide certification for fuels determined to have the lowest impact on the general aviation fleet.

The FAA will analyze the candidate fuels in terms of their impact on the existing fleet, the production and distribution infrastructure, their impact on the environment, their toxicology and the cost of aircraft operations.

By Sept. 1, 2014, the FAA will select several of the fuels for phase-one laboratory and rig testing. Based on the results of the phase one testing, the FAA anticipates that two or three fuels will be selected for phase-two engine and aircraft testing. That testing will generate standardized qualification and certification data for candidate fuels, along with property and performance data.

For more information:  FAA.gov 

24-hour fuel service now available at Alaska’s McGrath Airport

Crowley’s Alaska fuel sales and distribution group has unveiled McGrath Airport’s first aviation fuel card lock system, offering pilots the convenience of 24-hour refueling services at one of the region’s busiest airfields.

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US House Committee fuels future of unleaded avgas

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee last week approved funding to support continued research into the transition to unleaded avgas for piston-engine aircraft.

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Pointless poll or marketing ploy?

In the May 15, 2014 EAA Hotline email there was an interesting article in the Member Benefit Spotlight section. It reported the results of a Fuel Survey purportedly taken in March by the Experimental Aircraft Association with 13,000 replies by members. The findings were rather interesting: 87% of members are using primarily 100LL and 12% are using autogas.

As I digested this finding, a pertinent question came to mind: If 12% of members are tenacious enough to use mogas when only 3% of our airports carry mogas, why didn’t EAA ask the membership: “How many members would use mogas if it was as available at the 3,000+ airports that carry 100LL?”

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Environmental groups want early release of EPA report on 100LL

Less than one month after a U.S. District Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must have sufficient time to prepare a report on the public health effects of lead emissions from general aviation (GA) aircraft, environmental groups have filed a petition seeking to overturn the decision and force the early release of that data.

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