My co-author, Kent Misegades, recently wrote an article about the confusion of some in airport management about allowing mogas operations on an airport. Sad to say, it isn’t just a few airport managers. There is widespread ignorance about mogas use in aviation that permeates the FAA bureaucracy, the aviation alphabets, aviation media, state aviation departments and especially the auto gasoline industry.
What is ironic is the myths, misinformation and disinformation could be completely alleviated if the FAA would issue an AC or SAIB making it clear that auto fuel specified by ASTM D4814, without ethanol, is an approved fuel for aviation use.
The FAA granted approval in 1982 through the STC process and approval is now being granted by numerous new aircraft engine manufacturers, LSA manufacturers, and it is widely specified by homebuilders. In fact, mogas is the recommended fuel for the Rotax series of engines and there are new versions of Lycoming and Continental engines that allow its use.
Unfortunately if you looked at gasoline producers’ web sites (and here) you would think that auto fuel can never be used in aviation, even though it is sold on more than 110 airports in the U.S. and has been used for three decades.
When Oregon passed a state mandatory E10 law in 2007, with no exceptions for aviation, marine, antique cars and small engines — something no other mandatory E10 state did — pilots contacted the Oregon Department of Aviation and questioned how that happened. Turns out the acting head of the department was a non-pilot bureaucrat who admitted he didn’t know auto fuel was approved for use in STC’d aircraft, LSA and homebuilts so he didn’t object to the bill when queried by the legislature.
During hearings to pass a bill to grant the necessary exceptions for aviation, marine and small engine use, the president of the Oregon Airport Management Association was dumbfounded when he learned pilots could self fuel their aircraft and bring auto fuel on the airport to accomplish that end. He stood in front of the DOA manager and stated they should work on legislation to prohibit that, until I pointed out that it is a pilot’s right to self fuel with mogas as spelled out in FAA A/C 150/5190 which is now in its sixth revision. States cannot abrogate that right, nor can any public use airport that has accepted federal funds.
The FAA currently, obliquely, pays lip service to the fact that mogas is approved as an aviation fuel. It has issued an SAIB CE-07-06 that warns pilots of the danger of using ethanol blended auto fuel, which is prohibited by every mogas STC.
If you don’t want to look it up, here is key verbiage in the SAIB, “Fuels have to conform to a specification in order to be approved for use in type certificated aircraft. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) developed specifications for automobile gasoline as well as aviation gasoline. These specifications are ASTM D 910 and ASTM D 6227 for aviation gasoline and ASTM D 439 or ASTM D 4814 (latest revision) for automobile gasoline.”
So, now you know, auto fuel conforming to ASTM D4814 is approved aviation fuel and the FAA says so … obliquely.
All of the confusion, especially the confusion in Texas, could be eliminated if the FAA plainly stated in an A/C or SAIB that auto fuel conforming to ASTM D4814 is an approved fuel for aviation use in aircraft with mogas STCs or certified by the LSA manufacturer or the EAB manufacturer and cannot be prohibited from being sold on any public use airport that has accepted FAA funding.
Such a statement would put gasoline producers on notice that putting misinformation and disinformation on their websites should cease, and the EPA should be on notice that the disappearance of ethanol free auto fuel will be an economic disaster for general aviation.
Which is even more ironic when you consider that the EPA is under continual badgering to get rid of leaded avgas and lawsuits fly endlessly in California, arguably the largest aviation gasoline market in the country, to prohibit it. In addition, California has lead fouled airports that could be forced to curtail operations. Yet, those airports could be selling unleaded fuel for most of the GA aircraft today, but the airport manager doesn’t have a clue that mogas is approved for aviation use.
Just as A/C 150/5190 clarified the confusion over the rights of pilots to self fuel their aircraft when I was confronted by state aviation authorities who thought there should be state laws to prohibit mogas self fueling on public use airports, it would clear up the confusion in Texas and California if the FAA had a similar A/C or SAIB that clearly stated that mogas is approved for use as an aviation fuel in the more than 60,000 GA aircraft that have mogas STCs, and thousands of LSA and homebuilt aircraft. Then we could counter the myths, misinformation and disinformation put out by the auto fuel producers, some of the aviation alphabets and aviation media that pass on the misinformation without checking the facts and the myriad of bureaucrats we face in the state and federal government that are clueless.
And maybe, just maybe, the airports in California could install mogas infrastructure and show the EPA and the plaintiffs in the anti-TEL lawsuits that GA is serious about reducing the use of leaded aviation fuel in the thousands of aircraft that don’t need it.
So what do you say, FAA, can you help us out here with one piece of paper that would dispel the confusion about mogas once and for all?By Dean Billing