FAA Seeks New GA Fuel Proposals
The FAA on Monday asked the world's fuel producers to submit proposals for new fuels that could replace 100LL in the general aviation fleet by 2018, a move that GA advocacy groups greeted with enthusiasm. The FAA said it will assess each of the candidate fuels, taking into account production and distribution infrastructure, impact on the environment, toxicology, and economic considerations. "General aviation is vital to the U.S. economy," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We need to work with industry to develop an unleaded fuel that advances aviation safety and improves the environment." The General Aviation Avgas Coalition described the move as a "significant step" in the search for an unleaded aviation gasoline that will perform adequately in all types of general aviation aircraft.
The FAA is asking fuel producers to submit data by July 1, 2014, for evaluation. By Sept. 1, 2014, the FAA will select up to 10 suppliers to participate in laboratory testing. One or two fuels will then be chosen for engine and aircraft testing. That testing will generate standardized qualification and certification data for candidate fuels, along with performance data. Over the next five years, the FAA will ask fuel producers to submit 100 gallons of fuel for phase one testing and 10,000 gallons of fuel for phase two testing. "The FAA knows the general aviation community and the Environmental Protection Agency are focused on this issue," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "We look forward to collaborating with fuel producers to make an unleaded avgas available for the general aviation fleet." The FAA noted that it has tested 279 fuel formulations already, and a "drop-in" solution to replace 100LL "may not be technically feasible." The FAA said it will work with the GA industry to develop and deploy a new avgas "with the least impact on the existing piston-engine aircraft fleet."
On behalf of the GA Avgas Coalition, NBAA Chief Operating Officer Steve Brown said, "The general aviation community supports a deliberative, science-based exploration of aviation-fuel alternatives to 100 low-lead gasoline that focuses on preserving the safety, cost-effectiveness and feasibility of use for substitute fuel, among other considerations. We welcome the FAA's announcement, because we believe it is an appropriate next step in the conduct of an informed exploration for an aviation-fuel alternative to the avgas currently in use today." Other groups working in the coalition are AOPA, EAA, GAMA, NATA, and the American Petroleum Institute. The FAA's request for proposals is posted online. More information on the FAA's avgas-replacement initiative is posted here. The Avgas Coalition response is posted at the websites of each of the member GA groups. There are about 167,000 aircraft in the U.S. and a total of 230,000 worldwide that rely on 100LL for safe operation, according to the FAA. AVweb reviewed several alternative fuels in the works early this year; click here for that story.