Swift Fuel Moves Forward With ASTM Standard

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Swift Enterprises, which is working to create an alternative aviation fuel to replace 100LL, said this week it has taken "a large step" forward in the approval process. ASTM International has published a new fuel specification for Swift's UL102 high-octane unleaded test fuel. "This will allow us to test every batch of a fuel to a standard, and verify that it is all the same," PJ Catania, the head of fuels certification for Swift, told AVweb on Monday. That consistency is important for completing the next phase of testing, he said. It also will enable the company to test the fuel in standard airplanes, rather than only experimental aircraft, which will make it easier to gather large amounts of data, Catania said. However, that phase of testing the fuel in standard airplanes is still at least six months away.

First, the company must get the okay from engine manufacturers to use the Swift fuel, he said. They are now in discussions with Lycoming, Continental, and Rotax, as well as some smaller manufacturers. The "biggest thing" about this week's announcement, Catania said, is that it shows the company is continuing to make positive progress with the ASTM process, even though it's slow. He said the FAA's creation earlier this  year of an Aviation Rulemaking Committee to address the transition to unleaded avgas will help to define the path forward. A public forum with that committee, scheduled for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this summer, should help clarify how new fuel alternatives can move through the process from the testing phase to offer a commercially available lead-free avgas.

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