Yes, I know that headline is a tad cliche, but it’s true. We need each other… more than ever.
In order to survive we need pilots, aircraft, fuel and airports. To thrive, we must add pilots, produce state-of-the-art aircraft, have a steady supply of fuel, and a healthy network of airports of all sizes.
There’s been much hand-wringing over each of these needs, and lots of ink spilled on the problems and possible solutions.
One area that we’ve given voice to is fuel. While many agree a large percentage of the GA fleet can operate on unleaded, ethanol-free mogas, the national infrastructure isn’t there yet. We need 100LL until a lead-free alternative can safely power the aircraft that need it.
Agree — or not — with the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI), the goal is a lead-free replacement to 100LL avgas. From the PAFI website:
We [FAA] are working with the aircraft and engine manufacturers, fuel producers, the EPA and industry associations to overcome technical and logistical challenges to developing and deploying a new, unleaded fuel.
“The FAA continues to work with EPA to make this a smooth transition and to ensure the supply of aviation gasoline is not interrupted, and that all aircraft can continue to fly.”
That second sentence is interesting.
But did you ever think of Innospec’s perspective of the 100LL replacement dialogue? Who’s Innospec? Oh, just the last maker of tetra-ethyl lead (TEL) on the planet.
Innospec approached me a few months ago with the idea of sharing a document they produced with General Aviation News readers. After some back-and-forth we — both General Aviation News and Innospec — agreed a paid advertisement would be the best option to tell Innospec’s story. That ad appears in our latest print issue and can be read in the digital edition of the July 20 issue.
I’ve never written an editorial that encourages everyone to read an ad, but this is a unique situation, given Innospec’s importance to the industry. From the ad:
Innospec has often been asked by the aviation industry to provide assurance of continued supply of the TEL. In the past, we have always been willing to do this. In reality, as time progresses, we find ourselves facing a potentially awkward situation, where TEL is still needed by the industry, but could be no longer commercially viable, due to TEL production economics.”
While PAFI, the FAA and others are focused on finding the “drop-in replacement,” Innospec is focusing on the “smooth transition” to the next, non-TEL fuel.
We invite the Industry, FAA, PAFI or any other parties to the table to engage in a discussion around a planned transition.”
I should think moving a few chairs around to make room for one more shouldn’t be difficult. After all, we’re all in this together.