GA Avgas Coalition Praises FAA's Fuels Announcement

Agency solicits candidate fuels in search of an unleaded avgas

June 10, 2013 - The General Aviation Avgas Coalition praised the FAA's announcement today to formally request sample unleaded fuels for testing as possible replacements to the 100 low-lead (100LL) aviation gasoline (avgas) that GA aircraft use today.

"After significant work by the industry and FAA to develop a process for evaluating high octane unleaded aviation fuels on a level playing field, it is extremely gratifying to reach this milestone where FAA can begin to accept candidate fuels into the program," said EAA Chairman Jack Pelton. "We are excited to see what fuels are brought forward for consideration and look forward to FAA being able to evaluate them in such a way that all interested parties in the industry can collectively and knowledgeably determine the best long-term outcome for general aviation."

The General Aviation Avgas Coalition, comprised of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), American Petroleum Institute (API), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), noted that the FAA's move to begin reviewing possible fuels is a significant step in the search for an unleaded aviation gasoline that will perform adequately in all types of general aviation aircraft.

While the aviation industry has long acknowledged that an unleaded avgas is desirable, finding a workable unleaded replacement has proven difficult. Most significant is the realization that a replacement fuel will not be a "drop-in" solution, thus requiring the recertification of the entire fleet of existing aircraft. As a result, the FAA program will assess the viability of candidate fuels in terms of impact upon the existing fleet, production and distribution infrastructure, environment and toxicology, and economic considerations.

In 2012, an industry-government committee called the Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee (UAT ARC) developed a "Fuel Development Roadmap" to structure the search for a suitable replacement to 100LL. One of the recommendations called for an FAA Fuels Program Office, which was established in 2012.

The Fuels Program Office is leading the effort to produce fuel property and performance data that will be used by the fuel industry and regulatory agencies to evaluate unleaded gas replacement for eventual fleet-wide deployment.

Additionally, the fiscal year 2014 FAA budget includes $5.6 million in funding to centralize avgas alternative assessment and testing. The work will be conducted at the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center and determine standardized qualification and certification data for candidate unleaded fuels to ensure the safety of the existing aircraft fleet.

The purpose of developing the roadmap was to systematically answer all of the unknowns concerning fuel compositions and properties, their impact on aircraft performance, durability and safety, and the producibility and economics of each fuel to the highest degree possible.

"We are trying to take all of the unknowns of each fuel and turn them into knowns to compare the results of one candidate fuel to another," Pelton added. "This will facilitate rational and informed decisions about the future of GA fuels based on fact and data rather than conjecture and opinion.

"We believe that the FAA's program is by far the most effective process to not only evaluate the fuels but give the industry the data it requires to actually bring a fuel to market and implement it across the entire GA fleet."