The GAfuels Blog is written by two private pilots concerned about the future availability of fuels for piston-engine aircraft: Dean Billing, Sisters, Ore., an expert on autogas and ethanol, and Kent Misegades, Cary, N.C., an aerospace engineer, aviation sales rep for U-Fuel, and president of EAA1114.
As the number of signatures on our petition to the EPA urging a ban on the blending of ethanol in 91+ octane gasoline surged past 6,500 this week, we noted one recent comment on the Pure-Gas.org listing of sources for E0, this one from a North Carolina firefighter: Recently our fire department was responding to a brush fire where the fire was about to get into a barn. Our brush truck has a gasoline powered engine (which is almost new) in which we had a difficult time cranking to extinguish the fire. Upon our investigation after the fire we found the cause of the failure of the pump operating was due to ethanol gas.
The repair agency advised that we should not use ethanol gas on small engines due to this problem and that we should not store ethanol gas for more than two weeks. Unfortunately we must store some gas for emergencies on fire apparatus for calls. Sometimes it can be stored for quite some time before we use it. How are fire departments supposed to operate equipment properly and store gas for emergencies with this causing engine problems? Hope you don’t need to depend on this to save your life — the engine may not start?– Tony Collins, Advance, N.C. (Feb. 9, 2011)
Dan Yeast, a pilot from Frankfort, Ky., who flies a Rotax-powered Zenith 701, sent us the following message about his recent experience in searching for the right fuel for his airplane: I was planning to fly my Zenith 701 from Frankfort, Ky., to Las Vegas, Nevada this May. My aircraft is powered by a Rotax 912S which requires a minimum 91 octane unleaded fuel to operate properly. Minimal amounts of 100LL may be used, however, if used more than 10% of the time it can create problems within the engine and gearbox. While planning the trip using AirNav to locate mogas available at airports along the route, it became readily apparent that it would be impossible to locate it. What few airports that have it only have 87 octane and in the southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada) I was unable to identify any airports with mogas. Therefore, I abandoned this trip. I do have 93 octane ethanol-free mogas that I store at my home, but I have to buy it retail in Tennessee and transport it back. The majority of my flying buddies own Rotax-powered LSA planes and really rely upon high octane unleaded fuel for their engines. Boaters that have older power systems in their craft are also reliant upon ethanol free fuel supplies. One of my search tactics to find unleaded ethanol free fuel for my aircraft is to look for popular boating areas with marinas.