Another Fuel Committee: The Illusion of Progress?

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Last week's announcement by the FAA and aviation alphabets that the agency will establish a new government/industry committee to jolly along the quest for a replacement avgas caught no one by surprise. We knew the alphabets had asked for this; it was just a question of time before the FAA responded.

Other than the fact that the FAA is exactly the wrong entity to be leading the search for a new fuel, does this new committee—officially the Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee—have the slightest bit of merit? Or is it just another name for the same people having endless unproductive meetings in different venues? It depends on who oversees the committee. I'll get to that in a minute, but first, a status report.

Where are we now? First, the EPA continues to offer confusing signals on what it will do about lead emissions. Last summer, it said there was no timeline and last fall, EPA official Glenn Passavant further signaled that the agency was moving deliberately with no schedule and that the finding of endangerment against tetraethyl lead was by no means a foregone conclusion. Further, last summer the EPA told us it didn't have the statutory authority to regulate lead and the very next day, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said lead's fate was up to the EPA. (Confused yet?) There are two high-octane candidate fuels before ASTM International, Swift's binary blend and GAMI's aromatic blended fuel. Both are promising technically and although they're inching slowly through the approvals process, the economics remain unproven. It seems reasonable to believe they can be approved, eventually.

Because of this uncertain regulatory environment, users of avgas—that's us in the freckled-necked masses—have no reliable price or market signals, thus we are in no way encouraged to express that single thing that will get things moving: market demand. Without that, consider the conundrum the refiners face: Avgas volume is in decline, a trend that's likely to continue. If you're in the business of making it, how enthusiastic will you be about spending R&D dollars on something that not only has no market growth potential, but that you might sell less of every year? This is hardly the stuff of a Wharton School MBA thesis. Further clouding the development of demand is a new fuel spec shortly to be approved by ASTM called 100VLL. This fuel is essentially 100LL, but with only about 80 percent of the lead. The idea is that this stuff could become a bargaining chip with the EPA for those airports whose local lead emissions don't attain the emerging tighter lead emissions standard. That's a good thing, right? Yes. But other side of that knife is that at best, it's likely to be a band aid solution that serves to take immediate pressure off the quest to find a universal, long-term solution. In other words, it further discourages demand for a replacement and encourages a don't-worry-be-happy attitude or maybe a wait-and-see.

Against this backdrop, comes this new committee to do what? Write more rules, as its title suggests? That's the last thing we need. Rules won't coalesce the demand that gets things moving. That's why I think it's a mistake to expect leadership from the FAA on piston fuels. It has neither the experience, the expertise nor the interest. Finding a new avgas is not a big three-letter program of the sort FAA bureaucrats like to sign on to. Two years ago, it nearly shutdown the only piston research facility it has at the Atlantic City tech center. That lab is struggling along on a shoestring budget. Further, the agency has raised obstruction to a high science in its organized effort to crush the STC application for GAMI's G100UL, which should have simply been approved pro forma as a gesture to the industry that the FAA is on its side. Instead, it spent hundreds of staff hours fighting the proposal for no good reason other than bureaucratic intransigence. If the GAO is looking for examples of agencies in need of friendly reminders about how to work with We the People, it ought to peer into this STC app.

Yet in this miasma of black gloom, there is a faint ray of hope. When the rather more knotty issue of alternative jet fuels came up for ASTM approvals, the FAA formed a joint committee with industry called the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) which has since become the poster child for how these things ought to be done. I didn't attend these meetings, but people who did tell me that while the FAA was involved, it didn't provide the leadership. That came from industry. And throughout my research on CAAFI, sources kept telling me, "oh, you need to talk to Rick Altman" or "Rick Altman did that." Who is this guy Altman? A 40-year veteran of Pratt & Whitney with a lot of government experience. While Altman denies walking on water, he was clearly the direct fire coil making things happen. He gives most of the credit to the airlines, who did what general aviation is not doing: They expressed clear demand by saying, "we want this stuff." In this case, "stuff" was specific alternative jet fuels, not vague interest in "the best solution."

The corollary is direct and unmistakable. Last summer, Lycoming's Mike Kraft was strident in the view that the people with the largest stake here are aircraft owners—not the FAA, not the alphabets, not ASTM, all of whom have interests not always in perfect alignment with people who actually buy avgas. In other words, groups like The Clean 100-Octane Coalition need to insist on having a seat at this new committee's table to express demand directly. If there's a groundswell for 94UL, so be it; those folks need a seat, too. They should not abrogate their representation to owner groups who may or may not support their views. Furthermore, we need a GA version of Rick Altman who's an industry guy, not an FAA guy nor an association guy.

As 2011 progresses, it may become the year of considering the least damaging solution for the avgas problem. If we do little or nothing on the assumption that EPA is bluffing or at least forestalling the lead decision for years to come, we'll damage the industry because of lack of confidence in future fuel supplies will stunt sales and participation. Then, if EPA or the courts do something unpredictable that forces the issue, we'll be unprepared with a replacement.

If we tilt now towards a 100-octane type replacement, it will probably cost more and that will depress sales and flight activity, too, but at some point in the distant future when gas will cost more anyway. If we embrace 94UL—an eminently doable fuel—and expect owners who need 100-octane to pay for engine modifications, a certain percentage just won't. They'll bail and sell their airplanes or just stop playing. Some airframes with high-output engines will simply become scrap because owners won't see re-engining them as economic.

Which of these is the worst hit? Is part of the necessary pain here just to walk away from a portion of the legacy fleet? No one really knows, which is part of the problem here and a significant factor in industry paralysis on the fuel issue. The FAA's new ARC committee is supposed to "investigate, prioritize, and summarize the current issues relating to the transition to an unleaded avgas." But we've been doing that for 20 years. How many more times do we have to state the problem, put a wet kiss on it and then re-state it?

The opportunity here—if there is one—is for some industry sharpie like Altman to guide this group in a direction that actually produces results, cutting through the "investigate, prioritize" bureaucratic babble and showing the will to generate a real solution, not more briefings, meetings and papers. I just don't see that the FAA is the entity to do that. It cannot stimulate demand and is no position to announce a top-down solution. It could very well be the force that bollixes up an industry-spurred drive.

But ever the starry-eyed dreamer, I'm willing to be surprised.

Comments (294)

Paul, can you provide more details on GAMI's STC efforts?

Posted by: Ryan Turner | February 9, 2011 4:19 PM    Report this comment

>>details on GAMI's STC efforts<<

Got a couple of hours? Short summary, the STC app was about a year ago based on AC-20-24 which described a clear path to using an STC for fuel approvals. It was done in the 1990s to approve AGE-85 as a test fuel. GAMI had in mind something similar. It would not have led to the universal fuel for all aircraft, but would have applied to turbonormalized Cirrus aircraft. Essentially a demonstration project to be followed by wider approval under ASTM.

FAA fought the proposal at every stage, eventually rewriting the AC to make STC fuel approvals daunting if not impossible. No sensible reason to deny the STC other than "we don't do it that way."

Huge long paperwork trail on this, lots of politics and bureaucratic maneuvering all aimed at one little company trying to innovate out of the center lane. The FAA discourages this, even though it can yield solutions and might have here. That's not the sort of thinking you want when pursuing a difficult goal.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 9, 2011 4:39 PM    Report this comment

Personally I'm weary of the argument that GA NEEDS 100 octane. The same people who FORCED expensive 100LL onto GA are the same ones FORCING even more expensive alternative fuels. Enough is enough!

You want a revival in GA flying? Get $3/gal unleaded 91 octane gasoline at the airport. You want to keep GA in the toilet then promote $8/Gal synthetic 100 octane fuel at the airport.

The Turbo Cirrus is nice, just not nice enough to saddle the rest of GA with $8-9gal fuel bills.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 10, 2011 7:56 AM    Report this comment

With super unleaded going around $3.50/gal it'd probably be closer to $4 at an airport. (still cheaper than LL) And there's still the ethanol issue to deal with in mogas.

Posted by: Will Alibrandi | February 10, 2011 8:16 AM    Report this comment

Thanks for expressing what most aircraft owners think about this confusion, Paul. And on top of all this, GAMA and AOPA just said we'd all be willing to pay more now for AVGAS: "Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), also cited the need for long-term funding, adding, like Fuller, that GA was willing to a increase fuel taxes 25% on avgas and 65% on non-commercial jet fuel instead of user fees." (GANews 2/10/2011) Pilots are already voting with their feet and looking for ways to get autogas on their airfields, judging from the reaction to the Aviation Fuel Club. Note that Petersen Aviation is reviving its STC'd ADI systems for engines that need 100/130 octane fuel, allowing them to run on 91 octane autogas.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 10, 2011 9:30 AM    Report this comment

I never see mention of the most important industry players in this, BP, Chevron, Conoco, Exxon and Shell. They not only produce, but own distribution infrastructure of 100LL. I dont think for a minute that GAMI or any other startup is going to be able to manufacture AND distribute its fuel to every airport in America. This comment is NOT a tirade against "Big Oil", exactly the opposite. They cant be left out of the discussion. Disclaimer: I am a shareholder in BP, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell.

Posted by: Jim Lo Bue | February 10, 2011 10:03 AM    Report this comment

Personally I think AOPA has really done us no favors on this one. They seem to feel it necessary to be a "leader" as opposed to getting out of the way. I appreciate AOPA on many things, but on this one I think GAMI and/or Swift should be left to figure out what works.

Posted by: Jon Carlson | February 10, 2011 10:29 AM    Report this comment

The Swedes, who have been using unleaded aero-fuel for 20 years, see it as just another attempt to prevent "foreigners" entering the US markets. They have, in the mean time, even persuaded Total to use their mix for France and Southern Europe.

Posted by: Brian McCulloch | February 10, 2011 10:37 AM    Report this comment

Ethanol is a death knell for GA fuel, AGE-85 compounds that primary issue by adding expensive bio-fuels. End result is a corrosive/hydrophilic and very expensive fuel. It would be a worse kick to the groin to GA flying than doing nothing at all.

Run away from anyone using the terms "alternative" or "renewable" because they don't understand that "cheap and plentiful" is what pilots want. Cheap and plentiful for the next century of flight is still petroleum gasoline.

The best solutions are simple. Do what Stop-N-Go does and have a single pump where you select your fuel. Dirt-cheap unleaded/unethanol gasoline for most planes and a ghastly expensive 100(LL, VLL, synthetic, whatever) for those few planes that want ultra high performance engines.

All the wasted money for 10 years of fuel meetings could have funded this small undertaking many times over!

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 10, 2011 11:14 AM    Report this comment

Mark, 20 years, not 10, and nothing to show for it all. In the meantime the same wizards of smart have allowed ethanol to ruin the only other viable, and much more affordable FAA-approved fuel, mogas. "Cheap and plentiful" - right on! - the engine of a strong economy. Read about the new oil boom in the Bakken oil fields of ND, main shortage is food, and ladies for the workers. Here we sit atop a smaller field in central NC (Slate Belt) yet our state government won't allow its exploitation. I know I should not complain, we should all fly coal-powered (electric) airplanes instead, right?

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 10, 2011 11:37 AM    Report this comment

A couple of things I didn't mention. All the oil companies you mentioned are involved in this process, some more than others. They send people to the ASTM meetings and provide a lot of technical support and review, as do other companies.

But these folks do this work in addition to their regular duties and, with budgets cut to the bone, they don't have a lot of time and resources to spare. That was less true on the jet side.

To a degree, there's a certain stare down going on. Everyone is waiting for something from the FAA and the FAA is clueless about what the industry wants and will do.

And by the way, neither Swift's nor GAMI's proposal envisions them actually making fuel. They are developing formulas and processes for others to make fuel.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 10, 2011 11:37 AM    Report this comment

With all due respect, Swift & GAMI proposals are for more expensive fuel for the high-end market(100+ octane). That's fine, just so long as they DON'T interfere with the huge demand and simplicity of cheap non-ethanol gasoline.

The huge training fleet, the average owner/pilot, experimental and LSA fleet would do just fine on non-ethanol cheaper Mogas. All it would take is a gesture from the FAA that it's approved (all the work is basically done).

WHY it takes huge committees decades to accept "cheap and easy and plentiful and beneficial and proven" is not an illusion of progress so much as the reality of pure politics.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 10, 2011 12:08 PM    Report this comment

Returning the respect, you're making statements that aren't supportable with reliable fact. Note that above, I said "probably" more expensive. I have carefully investigated this and have a reasonable sense of the economics. But it's not nearly good enough to make flat statements, merely educated estimates.

If it's more expensive, it could be anything from 50 cents more to $4 more. The lower figure is lost in the noise level of monthly contract swings. There's elasticity here, but the extent of it is unknown.

Also, you imagine that this dual fuel will work in the U.S. Yet the refiners say they don't want to launch a dual-fuel aviation market, the FBOs don't want to invest and until and unless the government declares intent on lead, there is no market for it. Other than that, it's a slam dunk solution.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 10, 2011 1:08 PM    Report this comment

Dual and triple fuels work in Europe because distribution is vertical. All of the 20-some FBOs we surveyed last month were warm to the idea of a second fuel...if someone else pays for the tanks. It could come to that. But it hasn't yet.

If the second fuel is mogas, the ethanol issue will have to be dealt with. There is no compelling reason to think it will be if the RFS mandates remain in place. Right now, E0 is an iffy thing to buy and supply and it's doubtful if it's a growth market.

The issue is not approvals for the engines. The vast majority of LSAs have Rotax engines that are already approved for up to E10. The FAA has nothing to do with this. It's market supply, pure and simple. Get a reliable, widespread supply of E0 out there and you are certainly right, owners will buy it. That would also create demands for STCs on engines not now approved.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 10, 2011 1:11 PM    Report this comment

Paul, the biggest impediment/risk for airports to offering mogas is the uncertainty over the supply of ethanol-free fuel. The FAA could do something about this by insisting on a ban on blending ethanol in premium gas. The alphabets and Congressional GA caucus should line up behind the FAA on this. The FOE would likely do the same, as they see mogas as a means to reduce lead emissions, and most environmental groups now oppose ethanol for a variety of reasons. So we kill three birds with one stone, and take pressure of those who need 100LL. Once a mogas fuel supply is assured, it is easier to make a financial case for the fuel. Modern tanks and self-service systems are more affordable than in the past, I doubt if that will be an impediment. Pilots will go out of their way to buy mogas that's $1-$2 cheaper than AVGAS, they already do. Two airports here in NC have added mogas tanks in the past 3 months, W17 and 5NC3. They had no problem affording the small tanks but see mogas as a means to attract more business, which they are. While I was thrilled to learn this, I had nothing to do with it - they have found suppliers and tanks on their own. The local fuel terrminal here as an unlimited supply of 93 octane clear gas.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 10, 2011 1:24 PM    Report this comment

Let me see if I get the gist of all this:

1. Government can never be trusted to do anything right. 2. The entire industry is in total confusion and verging on panic. 3. There is no competent and well-positioned leader, so little hope of a good outcome. 4. None of the primary players are viewing the users’ primary concern as priority one – COST. 5. In fact, AOPA seems to be telling the world that we are all O.K. with price increases! 6. Technical solutions are out there, but no-one knows the cost. 7. The outlook is several more years of “confused activity”. 8. The market for avgas is small, fragmented, and declining, but surely there is still money to be made. 9. Lower powered engines & cheap gas is incompatible with high powered engines and more expensive gas. 10. One size does not fit all, but two sizes is an unaffordable solution for the industry. 11. E0 is a huge uphill fight, involving powers far in excess of any aviation lobby. 12. Heavy investment is needed to make anything happen. Indecision discourages investment and freezes progress. 13. Heck, even rudimentary seed money is a mere pittance and entirely inadequate if this is a high priority issue. 14. There is currently no pathway to success.

Posted by: James Herd | February 10, 2011 1:57 PM    Report this comment

Reactions:

1. Yep, that seems to sum things up very nicely! 2. It kinda reminds me of the health care debacle. 3. Judging by the feet of the industry leaders, as well as their mouths, no-one is taking this seriously. 4. Failing a major new initiative, the outcome will almost certainly be a more costly future for all users! 5. Bertorelli has an admirable and desperately-needed combination of knowledge, business acumen, and willingness to tell it like it is.

What we need is a pathway to success instead of an open-ended scramble! If that is a 5 or 10 year plan, then so be it, we can all then settle down, quit stressing, and pull in the same direction. I respectfully submit that this is the correct first goal for the entire industry – a plan for a plan. What will be the goals, the phases, the timeline, and the decision criteria? It must not be a race to some undefined finish line in space and time!

Posted by: James Herd | February 10, 2011 1:58 PM    Report this comment

According to a talk at OSH last summer by SwiftFuel reps, the engine that need 100 octane currently consume 70% of Avgas distribution. The "engine modifications" to these aircraft to use 94UL will bring about less efficient powerplants.

Swift says any ethanol plan can make their fuel, and GAMI has bids from several small refineries to make their GUL100, so the production/distribution issue doesn't appear that complex. The FAA needs to get out of the way, and AOPA needs to lead the way.

Posted by: Paul Hekman | February 10, 2011 2:03 PM    Report this comment

"Returning the respect, you're making statements that aren't supportable with reliable fact."

Paul, respectfully, the fact remains that higher octane fuels(100+ octane) ARE more expensive than lower octane fuel. Also synthetic/bio fuels are more labor/process(cost) intensive than oil based. These numbers are indisputable.

I don't have to "imagine" a dual fuel aviation market in the USA because it already exists at both the refiner level and at many airports (JetA/JPx and 100LL).

The vast training fleet, pilot/owners, experimental, LSA, classic 2&4seaters, ultralights, etc, all don't need expensive 100 octane. There is a market for "cheap and plentiful" and all it takes is a nod from the FAA to get us off this treadmill of even a more boutique fuel at even higher prices than 100LL.

I'm really sorry to rant but I don't want yet another expensive "solution" forced upon the already hurting GA pilot community.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 10, 2011 2:06 PM    Report this comment

"engine that need 100 octane currently consume 70% of Avgas distribution"

Paul, that is a real number. However, I wonder if that number would reverse if the vast number of engines that DON'T need 100 octane had the opportunity to fly on an much cheaper alternative?

I (for one) would burn a lot more gas given the opportunity of selecting a cheaper fuel...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 10, 2011 2:16 PM    Report this comment

If the price of fuel is the big issue keeping aircraft owners from flying, and flight schools from being affordable, or new airplanes/engines from being developed I'd be really surprised. I'm amazed at the number of people who seem to think cost of fuel is what drives the GA market. For airlines, yes but for the average private pilot who flies less than 100 hours a year a couple of bucks a gallon isn't significant when compared to the cost of insurance, hangar rent, tie down space, maintenance and all the other hard and soft costs associated with flying an airplane. If a couple of bucks a gallon on the cost of gasoline is whats keeping you from flying your airplane you're operating on a real tight shoestring. I for one would be seriously nervous about flying with someone who must be cheaping on maintenance to afford fuel.

Another point to keep in mind is that the oil companies who make the fuel don't make the TEL additive. They just blend it into their stock. The TEL comes from ONE SOURCE, in Europe! If that won't help you realize the seriousness of finding an alternative to 100LL you have a very limited imagination.

Posted by: Barton Robinett | February 10, 2011 2:43 PM    Report this comment

he fact remains that higher octane fuels(100+ octane) ARE more expensive than lower octane fuel.<<

Yes, but 100LL is 100-octane. You don't know the numbers on either G100UL or Swift because even the companies involved barely do.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 10, 2011 2:59 PM    Report this comment

The FAA could do something about this by insisting on a ban on blending ethanol in premium gas. <<

Under what regulatory authority would they do this? It would have to be safety related, although I suppose they could make the environmental argument. But that's out of their lane. I see this is a political pipe dream, Kent, given the political forces arrayed against it and the fact that refiners are already up against the blend wall. They're looking for more blendstock, not less to "help aviation out."

Squashing this idea would be less than an afternoon's work for an ADM lobbyist, I suspect. I just don't see this as remotely realistic.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 10, 2011 3:07 PM    Report this comment

"You don't know the numbers on either G100UL or Swift because even the companies involved barely do."

Paul, no offense, but I'm taking your word for all of this. Your article (AvWeb Mar 8, 2009) said Swift was bio and a 100-plus octane fuel. Your article (AvWeb Feb 6, 2010) said GAMI has a proven track record and matched 100 octane.

Bottom line is they are both shooting for the 100 Octane replacement market and no way in heck will they be cheaper. Octane rated for a turbo Cirrus and higher prices is not "a solution" for small owners like me.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 10, 2011 3:33 PM    Report this comment

Mark - according to an EASA report from last fall, approximately 50% of all aviation fuel consumed in Germany is Mogas. If we use the same ratios as here, that must mean that 70%-80% of all airplanes burn Mogas, which is what we believe is possible in the US.

Barton - you are probably correct, when one considers that most private pilots fly under 75 hours per year. But it is more the hit their wallets take on that occasional trip that they notice. The other annual expenses have not changed all that much and can be budgeted.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 10, 2011 3:35 PM    Report this comment

Paul - What happened to your fighting spirit? That is the conventional wisdom, that one can not take on the ethanol lobby. I'm not so sure, they do not have many friends left. When E15 starts to get into fuels, you'll see even more damage to vehicles and there will be some might unhappy voters out there. Sadly, it will take a few more lawsuits and deaths due to ethanol to get Congress to act, but they will. The FAA has been successful in pushing back the EPA on the end of 100LL, so what is to stop them in calling on a ban on ethanol in premium? The EPA backed way down (by over 90%) on their mandates for cellulosic ethanol last year when it became clear that the goals would not be met. When we hit the blending wall at the end of 2011, they'll have to do the same with corn-based ethanol.

Here's a list of all the fuels, other than mogas and 100LL, now available and affordable in the US:

Nothing. 100LL will disappear for economic or environmental reasons. Other than Jet-A and mogas, we have nothing in this country. Everything else is speculation at best. I don't like all my eggs in one basket.

Congress will be revisiting the Mercury light bulb (CFL) issue this year, which is part of the same EISA 2007 law that gave us ethanol mandates. That gives us a foot in the door. It's worth a try.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 10, 2011 3:43 PM    Report this comment

As an industry, GA has very little in the way of marketing resources. We have to pick fights carefully and labor only on the ones likely to be won.

If you think this through, the obligated parties are not going to want the option of ethanol-free premium BOB because there's nothing in it for them. If they have the option of not blending, as they do in some states, there's a slim chance you'll see it available. If the issue is forced, they'll balk because they need it as an ethanol dump. This will be true even if the blender credit goes away.

The larger issue is legal liability. As I mentioned, when I was researching the mogas story, I got between an airport and his supplier, who basically said..."They're using it for what? Our invoices specifically say no aviation use."

That is not the stuff of a sustainable national market, which is what's desperately needed. In the current political climate, I see this as a long shot in which the FAA doesn't even have a chip to play.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 10, 2011 3:56 PM    Report this comment

"In the current political climate, I see this as a long shot "

Well, my guess is that Lindbergh heard similar things, but he crossed the Atlantic just the same.

Our Aviation Fuel Club effort is grassroots and we expect no help from the alphabets. We'd rather have this as abottoms-up solution than dictated from the top.

Our so-called representatives in D.C. just said we'd be happy paying a 25% higher tax on Avgas. Does anyone agree with this? Can we afford to wait on a solution from D.C. and K Street lobbies?

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 10, 2011 4:02 PM    Report this comment

The nothing in it for them argument sure works for producing avgas as well. I've been thinking of how to convince a group of Exxon shareholders that it's good for the company to make a fuel that is less than 1% of their daily output, demand is declining, is now apparently in the crosshairs of the EPA, requires cleaning of the refinery after every batch, and has such high liability (as anything that says airplane always does.) Seems like the only hope is that we as piston aircraft owners have is to adapt to the fuels available - likely 91 octane unleaded mogas. I agree there are liability issues with Mogas as well - perhaps some tort reform like GARA would be a solution.

Posted by: Josh Johnson | February 10, 2011 4:07 PM    Report this comment

Josh - what liability issues with Mogas? As long as it adheres to ASTM D4814 and contains no ethanol, it is a perfectly legal fuel, and has been since the 1980s. Otherwise you are dead-on with your analysis. 100LL production has been dropping at 3-4% annually, not exactly a growth market. Gasoline by comparison will be around a long, long time and in huge volumes. Surely it is a smaller effort to keep a tiny amount of it "clear" instead of creating a whole new boutique fuel that few would want to produce. There is a mogas solution for those who need 100 octane, too, Todd Petersen's ADI technology. If it worked on a P-51 Mustang, why not in a Cirrus?

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 10, 2011 4:14 PM    Report this comment

"As an industry..We have to pick fights carefully "

For the last few decades, AOPA and FAA have ignored the fight for the lower-end of General Aviation (the 80/87 and 91 octane crowd). There is no "sustainable market" if you drive away the low end and cater only to those who can afford a Cirrus.

No one is fighting for us pilot/owners just trying to get a simple supply of clean MoGas in our 172's and Yankees and Cubs. And people still wonder WHY Aviation is dying?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 10, 2011 8:20 PM    Report this comment

Josh - what liability issues with Mogas?<<

Here's a quote from a major oil company: "Because it's not being used for the intended purpose." It's a fundamental merchantability issue. Whether it's a meaningful liability or not is debatable, but these companies see it that way. Marathon, which markets E0 widely in Florida, said flat out: "We don't want to talk about this. We don't want to be involved." ("This" being wider distribution of E0.)

So if you can at least convince them to say they will support mogas for aviation in appropriate supply chains*, you have a shot. Otherwise, the whole thing goes underground, as it is now, and that is not a viable national solution.

As for non-ethanol premium BOB, not all of it is ASTM fuel because regulations vary from state to state. As you know, it's a bit of a patchwork. That, too, could be fixed with the will.

But what's in it for these companies to do this? They perceive high liability, lower margins and lower volume against high margin avgas sales. What is the pitch you make in the boardroom so you can then trot off to FAA and get them to at least give it lip service, since I don't think they have regulatory bite there.

It's true that Lindbergh set out across the Atlantic, but in a Ryan with 460 gallons of gas, not an LSA with a leaky ferry tank.

*appropriate supply chains means they follow standards set out for transportation/delivery of aviation fuels. Two E0 suppliers I talked to told me they do this.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 11, 2011 4:28 AM    Report this comment

Pedersen's ADI has potential, perhaps, for those who wouldn't invest in a FADEC or low-compression rebuilds. As I recall, he only built one, so it needs additional testing in the modern context with modern detonation testing.

And a sugar daddy to pay for the additional STCs needed.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 11, 2011 4:35 AM    Report this comment

"As for non-ethanol premium BOB, not all of it is ASTM fuel because regulations vary from state to state."

Petersen says: Only eight states require compliance with the aviation fuel spec. D-910, and there is no federal requirement for aviation fuel to meet the spec. Therefore control of auto fuel is tighter than it is for avgas.

This has all been worked out decades ago. Is there resistance BECAUSE everyone knows it will work?

http://www.autofuelstc.com/autofuelstc/pa/Approved_Engines.html

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 11, 2011 7:06 AM    Report this comment

You're mixing apples and oranges, Mark. You're confusing state sales laws with certification issues.

The federal requirement for meeting D910 exists in the individual approvals for certified engines. That is very much a federal requirement. This is why we have STCs for auto fuel.

The ASTM spec Kent was referring to is ASTM D4814, which is a spec for automotive fuel. When oxygenate blends are shipped to terminals for ethanol blending, they generally do not meet any ASTM spec, thus they are technically not merchantable fuels. When the ethanol is added, they come up to D4814 or whatever applies.

Some states require ASTM fuels for automotive, some don't. I think it's 36/14 or the like. That's what we're talking about here. In some states, BOBs aren't legal fuels, while others don't care. Having said that, some refiners may be building premium BOBs that meet ASTM, but it's a mishmash. For instance, there's a California BOB and another for...Texas or the northeast. To make a national market for airport mogas, you need reliable supply chain at least regionally that distributors can rely on.

What first has to happen is for someone to sit across the table from Exxon, Shell, Chevron, BP et al and hear their answer to this: Will you support premium E0 mogas for airports?

If you can get them to say yes, you have a shot.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 11, 2011 7:33 AM    Report this comment

Here are the obvious answers: 1) I don't need PREMIUM MoGas anymore than I need premium 100 octane AvGas. My STC is fine with 87. 2) Exxon/BP ALREADY supplies AvGas, just take the lead out. A little more expensive than MoGas but the "pipe" already exists. Exxon/BP would love not handling and distributing lead. 3) Wake up FAA and AOPA from their long slumber and actually have them WORK for private owners in GA for MoGas. Sure they will miss the gravy-train of endless meetings at our expense but an "approval" takes less time out of their day than a single presidential TFR does.

4) Obvious answer #4 is that I no longer pay AOPA dues since, as you say, it's "up to me to get them to say yes".

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 11, 2011 8:25 AM    Report this comment

The mogas STCs require D4814 compliance, a minimum octane of 87 or 91 (depending on the STC) and no ethanol. BOB is off the table. Modern RFG auto fuels are handled in the same manner as AVGAS and are just as "clean". There are other, unbranded, producers of quality E0 who are happy to sell to airports, flight schools, private clubs, individuals, etc., and public airports may not by law (FAA Order 5190) restrict competition to protect existing fuel providers. Contact Barnwell, (KBNL), for instance. Marathon's stance is illogical and unusual, but legally they can not prevent a pilot from purchasing their fuel provided it is done in accordance with STCs and TCs, that would be discriminatory. This does not imply that they can be compelled to sell to an airport, however. Fuel companies already sell E10 to millions of boaters and others knowing that many will suffer property damage and safety risks as a result. Odd that they see no liability issues in this, where is a trial lawyer when you need one? Petersen's ADIs (for multiple planes, not one) are being updated and returned to market by Air Plains Services in Wellington, KS. Suggest you contact them for a story, it is a neat automatic system that can power 100LL engines with 91 octane E0 mogas for a reasonable cost. www.AIRPLAINS.com

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 11, 2011 8:44 AM    Report this comment

here are other, unbranded, producers of quality E0 who are happy to sell to airports<<

While this is true, there are not enough of them to amount to anything other than niche local markets. Even airports that now have mogas are nervous about supply. Others that don't, are reluctant to pursue it for the same reason. They are telling me this. But you are telling me something different.

The liability reticence is not at all unusual, in my experience. One of the downstreamers either you referred me to or I got off the pure gas site wouldn't go on the record concerning aviation supply. Valero, I believe.

Boats and airplanes aren't in the same universe tort wise, because boats don't come down in the proverbial schoolyard. One large judgement is all you need and aviation has had plenty of those. That's why I think if mogas is to thrive, it has to be above ground, not a niche behind-the-back deal, which it clearly it with some of these suppliers.

My view is this: If you're gonna push mogas, you have to be honest with people about the market barriers, the political climate and the likelihood of success.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 11, 2011 11:32 AM    Report this comment

"My view is this: If you're gonna push mogas, you have to be honest with people about the market barriers, the political climate and the likelihood of success." Could not agree more, and I think our arguments make a lot more sense than trying to force another expensive boutique fuel that does not exist yet onto a majority of airplane owners who don't need it. 100+ airports selling mogas now and tens of thousands of happy users since the 80s are a great basis to start from. We are not finding a lack of reputable E0 suppliers in many parts of the US, some even produce the fuel sold under branded labels. But yes the branded companies are aviation-shy, odd the same companies sell it in Europe, and they too have schoolyards. Different legal system, I know.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 11, 2011 11:48 AM    Report this comment

There is a huge market for non-ethanol MoGas in Aviation for training, LSA, and owner/pilots in the GA fleet 2&4 place planes. The Political climate is and will be ANTI-LEAD. You want to know the likelihood of success of selling cheaper 87/91 MoGas Vs $7-8/gal bio-blend 100LL replacement? Seriously?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 11, 2011 12:53 PM    Report this comment

The ADI systems that we developed in the 1980's cover more than one airplane or one engine. Barons, 210's and the Cessna 188 are approved with both the I0-520 or I0-470 engines. To expand this to cover the legacy fleet would indeed take more detonation testing and would be done with todays equipment. However these STC's are fully FAA approved right now and need no further testing. It will take a pile of money to extend ADI to most of the fleet, no doubt about that, but that's what investors are for and we intend to seek them out within the next few months.

Oil companies such as Marathon complain about liability but I'd like them to show me even one lawsuit against an oil company over mogas in an airplane. It's never happened as far as I know. The idea of more liability because it's going into an airplane is only there because the oil companies keep talking about it. Besides, if the fuel is unbranded then there is no liability for them. When I was selling E0 autogas in Massachusetts that came from New York in 2007 it was sold under the Petersen Aviation brand name. So there are ways around that issue too.

Premium mogas works and works very well. The FAA should have gone to bat to save it when the ethanol mandates were being debated in Congress. Now that the luster is wearing thin on ethanol they may still be able to be persuaded to help preserve this, the only long term reliable source of fuel for our airplanes.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 11, 2011 1:21 PM    Report this comment

"According to a talk at OSH last summer by SwiftFuel reps, the engine that need 100 octane currently consume 70% of Avgas distribution." Swift Enterprises loves to throw out that statistic, but that doesn't mean that it is based on verifiable facts. Ask them where they got that figure. I have asked a lot of people and done a lot of research and I have no idea where that stat comes from although almost everyone repeats it. Some think it is an 8 year old figure put out by AOPA, who loves to throw it out. But the reality is, nobody knows what the percentage of 100 octane fuel is used by those with engines that have to have it. I've heard GAMA say at OSH that maybe 25% of the aircraft in the US need 100 octane fuel and maybe they burn 60-65% of the fuel. Whatever it is it is declining, both in number of airplanes that need it and the amount they need. Another stat that Swift Enterprises loves to throw out is that we use 300 million gallons / year of avgas. That stat isn't true. EIA reports that refineries only make about 200-220 million gallons of 100LL anymore and it is declining every year. If you subtracted out a conservative amount of fuel for airplanes that could be using mogas, then the total demand for 100 octane fuel is probably about 150 million gallons / year ... and declining. Hope they are making their production plans with the correct projection.

Posted by: Dean Billing | February 11, 2011 2:56 PM    Report this comment

Todd, I could have sworn you told me the ADI was actually flown on just the Baron.

I have somewhere around here the 2009 FAA Tech Center report that gave its research on the 70/30 ratio. It actually estimated it at a slightly higher ratio in favor of 100LL.

If I can find it, I'll link it.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 11, 2011 3:16 PM    Report this comment

Auto fuel made to ASTM D4814 is an FAA approved aviation fuel by the STC engineering process, ASTM engineering process and amateur builders who specify that mogas is approved for the airplane they build, since they are the manufacturer. I hope everyone now understands that ethanol free mogas is an FAA approved aviation fuel, no producer that makes the such a product to ASTM D4814 and sells it in interstate commerce can withhold his product from a commercial enterprise on a public use airport that has accepted federal funds. To do so, that producer would be in violation of restraint of trade in interstate commerce and I believe that the federal government and the FAA would take a rather dim view of that. I am not naive, someone would have to have the backbone to sue such a producer, so, so far they get away with putting ridiculous disclaimers on their web sites and everybody winks at each other and 108 airports have mogas for sale and anyone can buy mogas at a service station and put it in their airplane.

Posted by: Dean Billing | February 11, 2011 3:34 PM    Report this comment

continued ... The EPA has the sole federal authority to implement the RFS mandate in EISA 2007, whose unintended consequences will make all of the gasoline sold in the U.S. E10 by the end of the year or early next year at the latest. Read the act, the ONLY person designated to make decisions about ethanol blending in Section 201 is the "Administrator" and that administrator is the the EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson. She actually has the power to prohibit the blending of ethanol in all premium gasoline in the U.S., with the stroke of a pen because EISA 2007 is NOT a mandatory E10 law. It was supposed to spur the production and distribution of E85 and the production of flex-fuel vehicles. Hasn't work out as planned, so the fact is that the FAA administrator can go to the EPA administrator and say you must do something to insure to continued supply of ethanol free auto fuel for aviation use because it is an approved aviation fuel. It appears to me to be no different than what the FAA administrator did when 100LL was threatened.

With a guaranteed supply of ethanol free 91 AKI mogas, we would be able to see if "market forces" would prevail. I happen to be one of those who believes it would, along with Kent Misegades and Todd Petersen. However if E0 disappears in an ethanol haze and the one company that makes TEL or the few refineries that make 100LL decide it isn't economical, then GA could literally be "out of gas".

Posted by: Dean Billing | February 11, 2011 3:35 PM    Report this comment

The document I was looking for is called NexGen Alternative Fuels Research Plan. Unfortunately, it's not on the web that I can find, so I can't link. It's an FAA study that estimates 44 percent of the fleet is at risk with the loss of 100LL.

The methodology was a type certificate sweep, which is about as good way as any to do it.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 11, 2011 4:30 PM    Report this comment

If ADI were to be extended to as many airplanes in the legacy fleet as possible then that 44% would shrink considerably, perhaps by two thirds or more. The problem however is funding such a research program. We funded our ADI program in the 1980's when STC's were selling fast and furious, all of it done with our own money. It could be done again with the right investors, but it would be helpful if some amount of FAA or EPA money could be granted toward that end. In the 1990's, the ethanol people lobbied to divert ALL FAA money that had been going to gasoline research to go to research on ethanol. That gave us the AGE85 program, which has gone nowhere. FAA would probably grant the money if they could, but the ethanol lobby, via Congress, took it all for themselves, and with no results whatsoever.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 11, 2011 5:45 PM    Report this comment

All of this makes me look forward to the new generation of aero diesels, like the Austro and the Deltahawk. I think that we'll start to see a lot of new diesels strapped on to old airframes via the STC rules in place. I just worry about the warbird guys running the big radials... If those ever go away, I'd miss them so. There's nothing like hearing a bunch of radials flying overhead.

Posted by: Jonathan Harger | February 11, 2011 6:19 PM    Report this comment

Many of the smaller radials, up to the P&W R1830 can run on 91 AKI mogas. Petersen even has an STC for certain DC-3 models with the P&W R1830. As for aero diesels, they better be certified to run on Jet-A, because Jet-A is NOT diesel, it has no cetane rating. It is really kerosene, not diesel.

Posted by: Dean Billing | February 11, 2011 6:54 PM    Report this comment

I agree with Mark there is a large market for E0 mogas. The problem is that mogas could be threatened by the E.P.A as well. On January 21st the E.P.A. approved the use of more ethanol in gasoline. The first step is "approve", the second steps mandate. I can't find any engine manufactures aviation or automotive who would approve of E85 (except for a very limited number of E85 vehicles). The auto industry is not embracing E85 fuel and is not adjusting their warranties or recommendations for the fuel type. I contacted some fuel distributors in the Midwest about delivering E0. They are more than happy to deliver E0 to an airport as long as it meets safety standards.

Posted by: Dana Nickerson | February 11, 2011 9:52 PM    Report this comment

The approval of the E15 waiver for non flex-fuel cars means absolutely nothing and will not delay the blending wall one day. All of the gasoline will be E10 by the end of this year or early next year at the latest unless the EPA or congress or the states do something about it. If you want to understand why: http://stopethanol.wordpress.com and http://www.e0pc.com

Posted by: Dean Billing | February 12, 2011 12:12 AM    Report this comment

Mark Frasier writes "There is no "sustainable market" if you drive away the low end and cater only to those who can afford a Cirrus. "

No, you also "cater" to the rest of the folks who use 70% of the fuel being sold. For example, there's perhaps ten thousand Bonanzas that have high compression engines and most of them remain flying. A mid '60's S35 with virtually the same performance of the Cirrus can be had for as little as $50K in today's market. Then there will be many (if not most) twins that just won't be able to fly with fuel that doesn't allow them to generate the horsepower they need for safety margins after an engine failure.

Some of the folks who can "afford" to fly a Cirrus may well not cringe at spending $40K for a new engine, but the middle class guy who has been babying his pride and joy, a 50 year old N35 with an IO-470-N 260HP Continental, isn't your target. Or at least shouldn't be.

Let's keep your class warfare out of it. I can't afford more than my late 60's Bonanza, and if I could afford an accountant, they'd tell me I can't afford the plane I have, anyway. If I wanted to tool around for $100 hamburgers or other short hops, I'd have bought a different plane.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 12, 2011 3:52 AM    Report this comment

Class warfare? It's also the LSA, the Experimental, the training fleet, AND the bulk of older GA planes. The honest truth is that AOPA(AvWeb) don't seem to care about simple and effective solutions. That 70% of fuel being sold is an artificial number because we're all FORCED to use that expensive fuel in our planes that don't need it. 70% means about as much as 100% does in a Cuban election !

My rant is that the FAA has intentionally set up roadblocks to inexpensive fuel for 20 years and is continuing on a path of even more expensive fuel. AvWeb/AOPA are still in the mindset of catering only to the every high end "as a solution" thus leaving the middle/low/sport end to endlessly pay $10-20/hr too much.

Just ONCE I'd like to see the FAA/AOPA actually peruse “cheap and plentiful” instead of the mindset of “highest octane at any cost”.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 12, 2011 8:15 AM    Report this comment

Let’s keep the discussion honorable! None of us know what is inside the heads of leaders at AOPA or Avweb, so let’s not pretend we know their motives. I have seen nothing from Avweb except constructive dialog that has made us all much better informed. None of us like some of the facts that Bertorelli offers, because they don’t suit our personal cause. We should be thankful that he is willing to tell it like it is – the good, the bad, and the ugly. This pushes the ball down the court instead of degrading into a useless diatribe. There is a phenomenon called “confirmation bias” where folks only listen to what they want to hear. We must all avoid that trap if we are to achieve anything here. We are not a homogeneous population but we must stick together, otherwise, “divided they fall”!

I am primarily struck by two points in all of this. First, AOPA et al are not reflecting the broadly-held views on this and other blogs. Most specifically, COST is our major concern and it seems to be taking a back seat. Second, there is no sign yet of any kind of game plan emerging in the industry towards constructing an orderly future for avgas. We need a process that gets past the flailing-around stage. The solution to both of these requires a lot of lobbying all around the industry. Some of the posters here have been doing just that (bravo!), but the voices may not yet be loud enough. We sure don’t need yet another avgas lobbying group to press the case on our behalf, or do we?

Posted by: James Herd | February 12, 2011 11:36 AM    Report this comment

We know AOPA by what they do. It's "dishonorable" for AOPA to drumbeat lower costs and then not plan MoGas alternatives. Honor comes from battling for what you believe in against high odds. There is no honor in cowering and smoozing and ultimately accepting something worse for your future you had before.

Todd Petersen has assembled volumes of data and multiple STC's. A MAJOR portion of the aviation fleet would benefit form unleaded, non-alcohol gasoline. He had the most elegant line: "Premium mogas works and works very well..they may still be able to be persuaded to help preserve this, the only long term reliable source of fuel for our airplanes."

Our piston planes fly on gasoline. AOPA/AvWeb should put ALL their weight behind that fact and work for the long term cheapest solution. (Hint: It's not biofuel or ethanol or synthetic).

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 12, 2011 12:20 PM    Report this comment

I should add that if 100LL is replaced by for example a 94 octane unleaded avgas, that ADI would also allow use of this fuel in engines normally requiring 100 octane. Hence ADI works whether we're talking about mogas or a low octane avgas. Since there is so much uncertainty about what fuel we'll eventually end up with, ADI allows a certain degree of flexibility.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 12, 2011 12:36 PM    Report this comment

MF, "cater only to those who can afford a Cirrus" is pure class warfare rhetoric. There are many more well used Bonanzas and other workhorse aircraft with big bore high compression Lycomings and Continentals that your calls for low octane gas would ground.

Let's summarize... you want to save something like 50 cents a gallon, and think it's OK to force me to spend $40K to make that happen. For the greater good. If I don't, I'll have to part out my airplane at pennies on the dollar, because much, if not most, of the Bonanza/Baron/complex Cessna and Piper fleet will all be grounded.

Funny you think the AOPA is pushing 100UL. I gave up on them after about 14 years precisely because they are NOT leading towards a 100 octane solution.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 12, 2011 12:53 PM    Report this comment

Greg, no I'd prefer a DUAL solution. That would make everyone happy. Give cheap gasoline for the masses and also higher octane for those who need/prefer or can't afford an engine swap. If the local Kwik-E-Mart can sell 2 octanes then it's obviously doable.

The solution on the low end is easy and there is no rational reason to postpone it. If the 100LL replacement takes longer, so be it. Use 100LL until there is a replacement. Everyone wins.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 12, 2011 9:22 PM    Report this comment

Greg, you're right. All of the alphabets are agnostic on the octane question. At this juncture, I can understand not having arrived at a conclusion on this question, but I can't understand why there appears to be no above-ground process to gather the data necessary to make the right decision. I don't think this FAA-sponsored committee will get us there. But we will see.

If people like Mark want a dual fuel system and think it's easy, they are misguided. Refiners don't want and won't do two aviation fuels, FBOs won't install the infrastructure and they aren't hearing enough demand to change that. The first step is to get educated enough to understand the underlying economics. I agree that it's a good market-based solution.

It's possible that the ethanol situation could flip and make mogas a player as a second fuel, rather than a bit player at 100 airports. But frankly, I doubt it. It looked like the blender credits would go away this year, but they didn't. Next year? Maybe. Any maybe EPA will reduce or eliminate the mandates? That would be a terrific national policy change, but is the longest of long shots. And remember, even if states/EPA carve out ethanol exceptions for premium mogas, market conditions determine if it'll be made in sufficient volumes for reliable distribution.

I did extensive reporting on this recently and will post it on Avweb.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 13, 2011 6:41 AM    Report this comment

Paul, the refiners don't want to make leaded fuel! Given the option of continuing lead, a truly boutique blend like SwiftFuel, or an Unleaded premium E0 MoGas, THEY would rather go for a MoGas blend. Refiners change their blends all the time for weather, location, etc and it's a easier to blend up an ASTM D4814 than deal with lead or sourcing Aviation specific bio stock.

As far as 2 tanks at the airport, big airports already have multi-tanks and what's stopping airport improvement funds from helping small reliever airports? A tank is the cheapest "upgrade" on an airport.

So refiners can make a MoGas blend easier than either bio or leaded, tanks are cheap, and delivery trucks no longer need to be "special" for leaded Aviation fuel. The economics FAVOR MoGas.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 13, 2011 8:47 AM    Report this comment

Where you're uninformed on this is the tankage, Mark. You say it's cheap because you're not the guy buying it. You continue to insist that Jet A and 100LL represent a two-fuel system, but they do not. Here are some quotes:

“Look, this is a business. I’m not going to put in another fuel tank, put up the money and not have the turnover that a gas station does. The money ain’t there.”--Ken Nierenberg, Princeton, New Jersey airport.

“We’ve had reasonable interest in mogas. We have sources for unleaded fuel. But we can’t get it as cheaply as the premium is across the street at a gas station. You at least have to pay for your capital; you have pay for your card fees; you have to pay your insurance. All those things chip away at your margin.”-- Kurt Winker, Mid-Valley Airpark, Las Lunas, New Mexico.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 13, 2011 9:23 AM    Report this comment

I have a notebook full of these comments because I have actually done the research. And I am constantly doing more. You say the tanks are cheap probably because you want them to be. For the reality of people buying them, the facts are different. You need to convince them what cheap is, because they ain't gettin' it.

The refiners don't want to produce a second aviation fuel. They're not thrilled about E0 mogas for aviation either, as long as they're obligated to rid the market of 12B gallons of ethanol a year. I see, hear and read statements from pro mogas interests that don't square with what people in the industry are telling me, either on the record or off. I would love nothing more than to hear a full-throated endorsement of these claims. I cannot find it.

The fact is, a fully formed mogas solution for GA--and fully formed means it's available at a large number of airports, not just 100--faces daunting political and economic challenges that shouldn't be trivialized.

It may be doable. I think it's a good idea, 'cuz I can burn it in my Cub. But you won't get there if you delude yourself by claiming the cost of tankage is "cheap."

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 13, 2011 9:35 AM    Report this comment

Tanks are "cheap" compared to resurfacing a runway, expanding a terminal building, installing lighting, building hangers, or even contracting for new drainage. Very small airports won't even need a 2nd tank because they can cater to cubs and trainers. If we start now the transition is 5 years or less. How long has the 100LL debate raged so far?

I'm employed in the oil industry and there is no such thing as "unless we're thrilled we won't do it". Leaded AvGas does not "thrill" refiners either but they make it. Prof enough all it takes is FAA approval.

What happens if the FAA does nothing? Goodbye 100LL and no one can fly. That's not a plan. If they are planning for more expensive 100LL alternatives, that's counter to the problems facing aviation and is a bad plan.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 13, 2011 1:20 PM    Report this comment

O.K. now we have pretty much aired this topic as far as we can as "interested bystanders". What is needed is a room full of the right decision-makers, led by the right person, and the door locked until they at least come out with a "plan for a plan". Due to the incredible complexities, this is a huge and necessary first step before attempting to resolve the specifics in this blog.

Is the new fuel committee that prompted this string going to be that room full of decision-makers? Probably not. And that's what we should all be working on instead of unproductive banter! (Don't get me wrong - I have learend a lot from this blog.)

We can't solve our fuel challenges , but we can perhaps get the right people involved in the correct setting to resolve the huge number of disparate views and self-interests.

There is a lot of positive energy in the posts above, but to make a difference we need to move to action! Let's all get better informed, quit assuming we each have the obvious solution, lobby the key players very heavily, and really make a difference!

Posted by: James Herd | February 13, 2011 1:40 PM    Report this comment

One small correction: "Greg, you're right. All of the alphabets are agnostic on the octane question."

With one exception, LAMA, that represents the new LSA sector, which BTW grew by 20% in the past two years. The amount of fuel they burned is still small, but LSAs represent the future of sport aviation and flight training. Plus the engines that power their airplanes are starting to appear in higher-performance aircraft and light twins. They are designed to operate best on ethanol-free premium, not 100LL, not 94UL.

Thank you Dan Johnson and LAMA members for your strong support for E0 mogas.

Since 12/1/2010 we lost 19 FBOs who have stopped selling 100LL. Since 12/1/2010 we have gained two that now sell mogas (W17 & 5NC3). A trend? Maybe not, but it's encouraging. The nice thing about E0 mogas is that it does not need further FAA endorsement or a new infrastructure to grow, just suppliers and willing buyers, both do exist. The FAA could do us much good by working with the EPA to get ethanol out of Premium; a heck of a lot of people outside of aviation would love to see this, too, one of those rare occasions where aviation can tap into a huge volume production and win join forces with folks pursuing other forms of motorized recreation. There are too many reasons for this not to succeed.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 13, 2011 5:46 PM    Report this comment

Since 12/1/2010 we lost 19 FBOs who have stopped selling 100LL.<<

Who are the 19? I'd like to add to my list. Or at least a few of them.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 14, 2011 5:48 AM    Report this comment

Paul, you might try to contact U-Fuel directly. or the "Aviation Fuel Club" at: http://www.aviationfuelclub.org/news.phtml

They seem to have done what the Alphabets(and AvWeb) say is impossible. Kudo's to those helping to fuel General Aviation at lower cost while continuing the petitioning against ethanol.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 14, 2011 7:13 AM    Report this comment

Paul, the number 19 comes from AirNav's FBO "Fuel Price Statistical Report", http://www.airnav.com/fuel/report.html We've been recording these numbers every few months for the past year here, see table at bottom http://flyunleaded.com/airports.php

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 14, 2011 7:37 AM    Report this comment

Mark, thanks for the reference. Reaction to the Aviation Fuel Club (AFC) has been, literally, overwhelming for those of us trying to answer requests from airports and pilots for E0 mogas.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 14, 2011 7:38 AM    Report this comment

Kent, that was a very nice article on the reason why 100 octane(100LL) is in overall decline and the reasoned push toward a more universal/available solution for a long term General Aviation fuel. Well written!

(http://www.generalaviationnews.com/2011/01/16/avgas-in-2011-%E2%80%94-logic-will-prevail/comment-page-1/#comment-14963)

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 14, 2011 7:47 AM    Report this comment

Sure they do! They're contibuting to the economy by keeping people employed or at least creating jobs. There ya go - that's it!

Posted by: Joeseph Gawlikowski: JoesPiper | February 14, 2011 11:34 AM    Report this comment

For several years I have had the opinion that anybody with an engine like the IO-520 that demands 100 octane would be facing a substantial engineering upgrade like a FADEC in order to use lower octane fuel. I am glad that Todd Petersen has reminded us of the ADI (Anti-Detonation Injection) approach, but I wonder why people don't just call it what it is: water injection. An old idea, but I am wondering if in the event of wider adoption the FAA et al are not going to start a working group to develop specifactions for aviation-grade water, its transport, storage, environmental impact etc. Gotta have a chance to smile in the midst of this mess. Joking aside, it would be interesting for the rest of us if we had a better idea of what is involved in implementing it. Hard to get that info in a casual web-search.

Posted by: David MacRae | February 14, 2011 1:00 PM    Report this comment

Actually, I think there is an official specification for ADI liquids, some contain other ingredients, but I'm not about to look them up. I don't think it likely ADI STCs will be a solution to the TEL issue. Too many variables.

I need 335 Hp per side at 39" of boost (preferably without detonation) departing a 3,500' strip with a density altitude sometimes reaching ~10,000' on occasion. Some of the Medical Transport guys/gals need similar or more.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 14, 2011 1:52 PM    Report this comment

Medical transport (I've seen) are all turboprop or jet helicopters. I don't see pistons anymore in critical roles. That another part of "the decline in 100LL".

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 14, 2011 2:22 PM    Report this comment

Many of you make claims towards the FAA. In Europe our "FAA" - the EASA is helping us in making a transition to unleaded AVGAS as easy as possible. Now it is not any more necessary to have the unleaded AVGAS listed in the POH, produced by airframe producers (perhaps not even in business anymore.) Now it is sufficient to only have the approval of the engine manufacturer. http://www.hjelmco.com/news.asp?r_id=27821 ................ The 30/70 question -- I think I was the first to raise it in the mid of the 1980:ies when I was very active in the AOPA Sweden and IAOPA. The figures were just pure guessing! Hjelmco started production and marketing of our first generation unleaded AVGAS in 1981 (yes- 30 years ago). ............................... Many advocate the one fuel solution. But the engines of the fleet are not the same. So the 10.000 dollar question: How to get future fuels with density higher than jet-fuel to carburate and from where will that heat come from? Yes to carburate you need heat and most piston powered aircraft engines have carburettors.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 14, 2011 4:59 PM    Report this comment

ADI fluid consists of distilled water and Grade A Virgin Methanol. There are specs for it, of course. Chieftains and Navajo's are two airplanes that come to mind that may be used for medical transport that I think could use ADI with 91 octane mogas. Of course these haven't been tested but given the results we've seen I'd be very surprised if it couldn't be done.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 14, 2011 9:13 PM    Report this comment

At what step in the 100LL manufacturing process is the TEL added? Is it the last step? Could it be the last step? If so, why not have the option of blending it in at the pump (probably the safer method) or in the aircraft'f fuel tank, for those planes that need it? (You just added 100 gallons to your Bonanza's tanks? Well that means you need to squirt in XX ml of TEL.)

Transport of "pre-lead 100LL" could be much simpler. The fuel in the tank would be lead free (so it wouldn't need to be a dedicated tank or washed after AVGAS use). The cases of TEL could be transported in a protected compartment of the truck. In the event of a crash, the not-yet-leaded fuel could leak with less envirionmental impact than 100LL, provided the TEL is in a more-or-less crash (fire/explosion) proof space.contaminated 100LL spilling out? Of course, the TEL could be transported independently of the fuel.

At the pump blending would avoid the issue of the second tank in the dual Unleaded & 100LL-equivalent solution for the respective 70% of low-octane capable planes using 30% of AVGAS & 30% of planes needing 100 octane using 70% of AVGAS groups.

Does this fix the environmental concern about leaded fuel being burned? No, however it could reduce the urban impact considerably. Much of the training fleet flies close to home field. Get all the 152s still flying to burn the "pre-lead" version of 100LL, and the lead levels around the training fields fall. Most of the high compression engines are used in cross country aircraft, which spew their lead over the farms and forests where there are fewer humans to breath it. Overall lead pumped into the atmosphere by GA would only drop 30%, but it would result in a larger drop near urban areas.

JL De Foa, MD

Posted by: Lance De Foa | February 14, 2011 11:39 PM    Report this comment

JL. Your thoughts are correct. Lead is added at the end of the process. However blending is not always linear and lead is terrible difficult and dangerous to handle. That cost at an airfield to handle lead is higher than a second fuel tank for unleaded AVGAS. cont.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 15, 2011 1:03 AM    Report this comment

But basic unleaded AVGAS could be produced and then distributed around the country in a similar way as MOGAS without ethanol. At certain fuel terminals (where larger volumes are handled) lead could be added batchwise and quality control/certificate issued (for MOGAS ethanol is normally added at the fuel terminal). Leaded and unleaded AVGAS could then be distributed in the same truck but in separated compartments to the various airports. This however is the dual tank system at airports and it is practised in Sweden since 1981 and works fine. As the leaded and unleaded fuels carries the same base fuel - the production is very cost-effective. But you have to add certain knowledge into the base fuel in order to get it to work and that will add some pennies to the cost - on the other hand transportation will be cheaper to the said fuel terminals as it will unleaded and that will give you these + some more pennies back. Unleaded AVGAS will thus be cheaper in the end for those users. The Hjelmco Oil AVGAS 91/96UL (91/98UL) carries engine manufacturers approval for more than an estimated > 90 % of the entire world piston powered aircraft fleet and it carries full EASA (European FAA) approval and that fuel is the Swedish base fuel for our leaded AVGAS 100 LL. This system and that fuel had in Jan. 2011 been in contant production and use for 20 years and flown for millions of hours in thousands and thousands of aircraft. Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil. www.hjelmco.com

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 15, 2011 1:04 AM    Report this comment

As a point of reference, a small (1500g) self-service mogas fuel system, complete with credit card reader, can be acquired these days for well under $50,000. Used & leased systems are even cheaper, as are simpler aviation-grade fuel trailers. Amortized over the 20+ year life of the system, a second pump is not a huge investment, especially compared with many of the other things some airports spend their (AIP, so our tax dollars) money on these days, like solar farms and LEED-certified "sustainable" buildings that do nothing to lower the cost of flying.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 15, 2011 7:36 AM    Report this comment

I think we need a sunset plan. 100 octane forever to support legacy airplanes just drives up the cost of aviating.

If the argument is the people that could get by on less than 100 need to stick together with the the people that can't, why not have a tax instead that's directed into a sunset fund. For example Gami estimated their fuel at 0.50 cents / gallon premium to avgas. Actual fuel on the market from what I can find for racing fuel is at about $4/gallon premium to avgas (Shell URT advanced 105 MON, by the 55 gallon drum) so call that an upper limit. Now what if instead of either we accept say a 0.25 cent/gallon tax for 10 years, all directed into a sunset fund.

Immediately today require no new cert for airplanes that require 100LL. At 5 years require existing new production airplanes to be sold as not requiring 100LL. At 10 years require any overhaul to convert to not requiring 100LL if economonically feasible (some $$ amount - say no more than +10% overhaul cost)

At 200 million/yr gallons by 10 yrs the sunset tax would collect enough to buy a second fuel tank for 10,000 airport in the US at 50k/per. Or subsidize a couple thousand worth of mods for every active ga airplane in the US. Etc.

You can argue about details but isn't a plan like that better than paying 0.50 cents at least, and most likely more - definitely more if you don't really need 100 octane - from now until forever?

And it takes pressure off from enviro groups because now you have a plan.

Posted by: B Noel | February 15, 2011 9:35 AM    Report this comment

A lot of people (like me) have been paying for unneeded 100 octane for decades. NOW a suggestion that we're taxed ON TOP OF THAT just to buy a 2nd tank for 100 at the airport that we won't use?

Yes, I can argue against an "sunset plan" that Double penalizes me. 100LL is it's own very old problem. There is no environmental nor economic problem supplying airports with gasoline that contains neither TEL nor Ethanol. The "problem" is for planes that need 100 octane and TEL is banned and Ethanol will always be a problem.

100LL replacement is a problem; just not one that is important to trainers, LSA's, Cubs, Yankees, most of the existing private airplane fleet, nor with far thinking new plane designs.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 15, 2011 10:03 AM    Report this comment

But, if the tax is only on 100LL you can 'opt out' at any time by filling up with your economic non lead non ethanol gas.

In fact with the sunset tax on 100LL mogas is even more economically attractive. Whats wrong with that? It doesn't stop anyone from equipping an aiport with mogas tanks. It doesn't stop anyone from lobbying for no ethanol in premium. It doesn't stop anyone from from convincing refiners to produce 91/96 unleaded avgas (like Hjelmco).

The reality is if aviation switches to a 100UL you are going to be double penalized anyway. 100 UL is never going to be cheaper than 100LL is today

Why would anyone be willing to pay +0.50 for 100UL from now until forever instead of +0.50 for 100LL for 10 years and then be rid of it??

Posted by: B Noel | February 15, 2011 10:59 AM    Report this comment

Nope. We'll pay the tax for years until the tank deployment of 2nd tanks begins. That goes for everyone and that's a non-starter.

Also you "assume" that a new fuel tax for "airport improvements" will be limited to 100LL AND that it will stop after the last tank is built. Both assumptions are outside of historical aviation taxes.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 15, 2011 11:37 AM    Report this comment

So Mark what do you think will break the stalemate? What is going to change tomorrow so mogas, or UL avgas like Hjelmco shows up at airports?? And who is going to change it? To me I just see another 20 years of inaction

Posted by: B Noel | February 15, 2011 1:06 PM    Report this comment

The AOPA, FAA, EPA are obviously not interested in "cheap, proven, and readily available" fuels. Owners of 100 octane-only aircraft have equally done nothing for decades on end. I can't change the minds of alphabets nor owners who've have their head in the sand for 20+ years.

Me? I took action and have Petersen STC's on both my planes. Let the stalemate stop and ban leaded gas tomorrow. Maybe THEN airports and owners will also get off their duffs too. Bring it.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 15, 2011 4:26 PM    Report this comment

May I on the other side of the Atlantic propose ? Why not suggest Pres. Obama do remove taxes on unleaded AVGAS. This should be in the interest of environment and will pay for new tanks. ----------------------- I introduced unleaded AVGAS in Sweden some 30 years ago. In 30 years I will not be flying any more due to age. Demography is also an issue. The GA pilot population is old in the US and in Europe. Most young people (new pilots) in Europe fly aircraft with Rotax or similar engines. Such licencies are affordable and such flying is affordable and such aircraft have a better cock-pit than the old generation of GA-aircraft that constitues the bulk of GA aircraft today. Is it perhaps so that what we (old generation) associate with GA is not going to be the GA in the future? And knowing this could it be so that no-one is interested to make the necessary investements? Piper and Cessna are not really selling any numbers of typical GA-aircraft today?

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 15, 2011 4:46 PM    Report this comment

It's possibly a good time to lobby to get all ethanol out of mogas... : http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110215/ap_on_bi_ge/us_food_prices

The poor are starving and we're burning a quarter of the US corn crop for no net increase in usable fuel energy. It's a waste that needs to stop, and a nice side effect of stopping the madness will once again be mogas usable in aircraft.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 15, 2011 5:28 PM    Report this comment

MF writes, "Owners of 100 octane-only aircraft have equally done nothing for decades on end. I can't change the minds of alphabets nor owners who've have their head in the sand for 20+ years."

Propriety checks my desire to speculate where your head has been, Mark. Just what should someone who bought a nice N35 50 years ago, at age 30, have done besides join the AOPA?

Invest in two 8 gallon jerrycans and shlep premium E0 mogas to your airplane. Problem solved.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 15, 2011 5:34 PM    Report this comment

Lars, Evidently the USA/AOPA are still single minded 100LL (or a placement). GA around the world is well on the way to affordable fuels. The whole rest of the world seems to be moving away from the 100LL spec for GA.

Me? I am considering trading in the jerry cans for a pair of 55 gallon drums. Tanks are cheap.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 15, 2011 8:07 PM    Report this comment

OK Mark that's an idea, but it's never actually going to happen. How does banning fuel for anyone else help you use mogas anyway?

Greg what about people that are 30, or younger now? Should they pay for a boutique fuel for the next 50, 60, 70 years? Leaded fuel is not going to be around several decades from now.

100 octane makes no sense for any new plane. Who would pay for some exotic gas for decades instead of just buying something with a slightly larger, lower compression engine??

Take your hypothetical N35 owner. That has an IO-470-N 100LL, 1.8 lbs/hp. IO-470-J can run on mogas at 1.7 lbs/hp. So, to get your 260 hp on a lower compression, mogas engine would be about a 30 lb penalty.

If both these airplanes options were hypothetically available right now today fresh off the showroom floor and you were 30 again which would you buy? If it was overhaul time today, you planned to keep the airplane another several decades and both options were available, which would you take?

Posted by: B Noel | February 15, 2011 8:23 PM    Report this comment

To me the boutique 100 UL fuels make no long term economic sense. To pay several dollars per gallon premium times 15 gph or more for a 1% weight savings is a terrible tradeoff. Assuming only $1/gallon premium for 100 UL over mogas or hjelmco style 91/96 avgas UL - which is wildly optimistic imho -thats something like $30k per overhaul premium in exchange for a 30 lb weight savings?

Sure it made sense back in the day when 100 LL was used commercially and widely available and cheap. I don't see how it makes sense any more. And if you do think it makes sense (in the future, going forward), then you can pay the premium yourself. Don't drag everyone else along.

On the other hand no one is going to come up with a low octane solution for owners at overhaul if there is no low octane gas. So it's a stalemate. You need some kind of forced transition with incentives to break the stalemate. Otherwise it will be broken for you 10 years from now when the EPA does take the MF approach and so sorry, time ran out. No lead, you're buying $8/gal 100 UL.

Posted by: B Noel | February 15, 2011 8:25 PM    Report this comment

"How does banning fuel for anyone else help you use mogas anyway?"

Let the axe finally fall on 100LL tomorrow. Be done with it. Without question unleaded fuel will fill the tanks at the airport before March 1st (and that fuel ain't some high priced synthetic/bio). The longer the wait, the more chance of some MANDATED expensive 100(x) being developed and deployed and therefore entrenched/enshrined for the next 50 years.

Yes, I'm for cutting the cord and getting off the "100 or nothing" treadmill that the USA is on. Nothing short of that has worked.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 15, 2011 8:46 PM    Report this comment

All -- I did not get any comments to "How to get future fuels with density higher than jet-fuel to carburate and from where will that heat come from? Yes to carburate you need heat and most piston powered aircraft engines have carburettors."

If you agree that the present stars of 100 UL AVGAS beeing evaluated have this high density and the majority of the fleet are carburetted -- then there is simply no single AVGAS fuel solution. And as the major oil companies, FBO:s, Avweb, alphabet groups et al - all say that the US only can make it with the single fuel solution -- and there will no single solution -- is the US going to quit flying or will it be the end of GA as we see it today. Perhaps the world tomorrow consists of Rotax et al powered aircraft and VLJ:s and nothing between except for the Cirrus 22 T with the 91/96 UL (94UL) Teledyne engine??

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 16, 2011 1:34 AM    Report this comment

Lars..well, you gotta do the testing on the high mass fuels first, no? Their distillation end points vary from D910, but only real world testing in carburetted engines will reveal if that matters.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 16, 2011 6:30 AM    Report this comment

And for those interested, we're running a new avgas survey:

http://www.questionpro.com/akira/TakeSurvey?id=2034975

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 16, 2011 6:30 AM    Report this comment

Paul - regarding reducing power/installing low compression pistons from your survey. I'm not sure this will be a viable option for very many airplanes. First of all, who's going to develop this modification? Most of our airplanes barely pass the minimum standards for certification on the power they have. All the performance graphs will have to be rewritten and then ingrained in the pilot operating the airplane. Reducing performance will make for a liability nightmare for the company developing it. Just when you need the power the most (takeoff/go around) is when detonation is most likely to occur, so that is when power has to be reduced if you're going to meet safe detonation margins. Reducing power for takeoff simply isn't going to be possible for many of these airplanes, and imagine trying to defend it in court.

Lars - Perhaps you need to be more clear about who is making this high density fuel in order get a response to your question.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 16, 2011 7:15 AM    Report this comment

Continental says the low-compression pistons will work in a significant number of its engines and they proposed this when they announced their preference for 94UL. No data was given, but they clearly see/saw it as viable.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 16, 2011 8:13 AM    Report this comment

Of course it's viable for their engines. It's just not viable for many of the airframes on which those engines are mounted and it's recertification of the airframes that presents the difficulty.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 16, 2011 8:15 AM    Report this comment

As far as approvals, that's part and parcel to the question of cost. Presumably, it would be possible for blanket STCs across a range of engines. That's essentially how they're expanding the application list for PowerLink. I don't know how practical any of this is in the market, thus the survey. But I don't think any of it is a showstopper, either.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 16, 2011 8:18 AM    Report this comment

Todd - let,s be neutral. If you have a gasoline as heavy as jet-fuel and a very low vapor pressure. From where will the necessary heat come to vaporize, carburate the fuel in a carburettor. I speak about all lattitudes not only at places where it always is a hot a nice weather or just during summer time.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 16, 2011 9:05 AM    Report this comment

t's just not viable for many of the airframes on which those engines are mounted and it's recertification of the airframes that presents the difficulty.<<

Not seeing why this can't be handled with blanket STCs, same as the engines, Todd. Someone will have to pay, obviously, but if the engine makers and airframers want those airplane to remain viable, they'll figure out a palatable solution if there's no other choice. There may not be. If they secretly want those old airframes to die as a means of stimulating new demand--a silly contention, but one that some people make--we're doomed.

Unfortunately, for some unknown percentage of airplanes, the reduction in power will mean they will no longer meet the TC requirements. That's the biggest downside of this plan.

I think the market will sort it out and whatever happens won't be pretty.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 16, 2011 10:48 AM    Report this comment

Lars, you're not getting traction on that question because it's a little off topic for this blog and perhaps you haven't stated the issue clearly.

For both the heavy aromatic content fuels now on stage--that's Swift and G100UL in case you're wondering--a legitimate technical question is cold weather starting because of the higher boiling points of the blends. Here's an FAA report that addresses some of that:

http://www.tc.faa.gov/its/worldpac/techrpt/ar1013.pdf

But these tests were done on an IO-540 injected engine, not a carburetted engine where high evaporation points could be an issue. That testing is in the future. GAMI is doing some of it now on a Cessna 150.

It is fair to ask why this testing isn't being done sooner rather than later for those fuels who propose to be the all-purpose drop in, regardless of octane.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 16, 2011 12:09 PM    Report this comment

"It is fair to ask why this testing isn't being done sooner rather than later "

The fair answer is that their focus is not on fuel cost or operational problems encountered for light aircraft. That's been my contention all along and a 2 fuel system like we had in the past is the best answer.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 16, 2011 1:11 PM    Report this comment

Every year, the FAA does an analysis of aviation activities, This starts with the aircraft registration base and pilot license base. These numbers have a small std. error as you would expect.

From this base line, they make interpolations from various surveys to calculate hours flown, activity categories, etc. Larger std. error as you would expect.

From the data, they do a calculation of fuel use. It is broken down into a detail analysis of fuel type, even including mogas.

Using this data, it is relatively easy to reach a conclusion that 100LL is a requirement for ~70% of avgas burned for the fleet use/hours flown.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 16, 2011 3:34 PM    Report this comment

I have the FAA Excel spreadsheets from 2007 and they seem reasonably constructed to me.

Other comprehensive data seemingly available from NATA and GAMA are taken from the FAA data.

Anyway, I'll believe the 70% 100LL/30% other fuel ratio to be as accurate a number as anyone will find until shown otherwise.

The 2010 data should be available soon after the end of February. The data should be interesting.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 16, 2011 3:45 PM    Report this comment

An EASA study from late last year put German GA use of mogas at about 50% of all fuel burned in piston-engine planes there, as a point of reference. But they have a 5+ year jump on us with LSA-class aircraft that burn 3-4 gph mogas. Anyone want to conjecture why 100LL production has been dropping by 3%-4% the past decade? People flying less? Move from heavy pistons to turbines? More LSAs with efficient engines?

http://www.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=pet&s=a403700001&f=a

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 16, 2011 4:06 PM    Report this comment

Edd. It would be interesting to know how the FAA labels the Piper PA28 series as regards to required fuel to make one example. The engines are (with few exceptions) labelled AVGAS 91/96 but the POH says 100 LL. Same with several Cessna aircraft. Are these 100 LL aircraft or could they use unleaded AVGAS 91/96 UL as EASA accepts?

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 16, 2011 4:11 PM    Report this comment

Kent,

2007 FAA data indicate:

Fixed wing piston - 256,800,200 gal. 100LL Fixed wing piston - 6,719,800 gal. mogas

Total Pilots 1984 - 772,376 Total Pilots 1994 - 654,088 Total Pilots 2004 - 618,633

Student Pilots 1984 - 150,081 Student Pilots 1994 - 96,254 Student Pilots 2004 - 87,910

Now we have great recession. I know I'm burning less 100LL also.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 16, 2011 4:28 PM    Report this comment

Lars,

Give me an email address and I'll send you the raw data.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 16, 2011 4:31 PM    Report this comment

Edd you seem to be referring to the FAA General Aviation surveys?

http://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation_data_statistics/general_aviation/CY2009/

That's just the FAA estimate of 100 LL and mogas that *is* burned. The claim is that 70% of avgas burned is by engines that *must* have 100 LL. Those spreadsheets are completely silent on the question of what percentage of the 100 LL that is consumed could not have been replaced by a lower octane alternate if it was available.

I don't see looking through their spreadsheets how it's relatively easy, or possible at all, to estimate how much 100 LL is used by engines that could not possibly burn a lower octane fuel.

Are you referring to some other spreadsheets that break out fuel use in more detail than "all piston singles with 4 or more seats", etc??

Posted by: B Noel | February 16, 2011 5:09 PM    Report this comment

I made a simple spreadsheet that took (0%) of the 2-seaters, a percentage of single-engine 4 seats or more (60%), twin-engine (90%), rotorcraft(90%), a small percentage of experimental (warbirds/acro etc.) and factored in the estimated hours flown.

Works out to ~69%.

A large factor is the 4-seat single category. You could sweep the registration database for something more definitive, but it will be difficult (my T-34B shows a 0-470 but has a IO-520). Lot's of Bonanzas, 182s, etc. I know a lot of Bonanzas are still flying, many upgraded or requiring 100LL even if not. Not sure about 182s.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 16, 2011 5:51 PM    Report this comment

People flying less? Move from heavy pistons to turbines? More LSAs with efficient engines?<<

I doubt if the LSAs are having much effect. Too few of them. Lower activity is almost certainly the larger order effect. Some people have cut activity by a quarter or more.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 16, 2011 6:06 PM    Report this comment

Sure it works out to 69% almost by definition of the numbers you chose i.e. by deciding 60% of the fuel burned by single engine 4 seat airplanes could not have been anything but 100 LL. If you picked 30% the answer would have been 39%, etc.

So that's just a guess on your part, might be a good guess or might not be but it's not based on any actual FAA survey data

Sweeping the registration database doesn't help, because the claim is that 30% of the airplanes need 100 LL, but they burn 70% of all avgas sold. Sweeping the registration database could confirm / deny the 30% need 100 LL part but it doesn't tell you anything about the burning 70% of all avgas sold part.

Posted by: B Noel | February 16, 2011 6:10 PM    Report this comment

Paul - my point is that the engine manufacturers only make claims for their engines, but the real issue lies with recertifying the airframe, not the engine. Ask Cessna or Piper how many of their airplanes they're willing to recertify on derated engines.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 16, 2011 8:32 PM    Report this comment

Ed. Here is a door for making emails to me. Just put for my attention . BRGDS Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil http://www.hjelmco.com/pages.asp?r_id=13403

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 17, 2011 4:37 AM    Report this comment

Ask Cessna or Piper how many of their airplanes they're willing to recertify on derated engines.<<

I actually have asked that, Todd. The answer: It depends on what needs to be done. It's one thing to rejigger the airframe cert for a 182, quite another for a 421.

My guess is it's no more or less likely than ADI being a real market player. They'll do what they need to do to preserve the market they want to keep. ("They" being not just the manufacturers, but owners, owners groups and individual companies.)

Having said this, it's somewhat clear to me that there's not a lot of sentiment for modifying engines to burn lower octane fuel. Initial response to our survey suggests a low interest in modifications, almost no interest in 94UL and a modified engine, but moderate interest in mogas as a second fuel.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 17, 2011 5:25 AM    Report this comment

"it's somewhat clear to me...Initial response to our survey suggests a low interest in modifications, almost no interest in 94UL"

As I've been ranting, pilot/owners like me don't need modifications for E-0 MoGas and have no real desire for still expensive/boutique 94UL.

That's why I never finished the survey! It's not meant for trainers, LSA, and the myriad of pilot/owners (like me) with older 2 and 4 seaters that don't need/want 100x (nor want to be once again forced into 100x as the ONLY option at the airport).

The survey was written to evoke the response you expected.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 17, 2011 7:42 AM    Report this comment

I take it exception to that, Mark. There's a bifurcated question that asks the respondent whether the aircraft he flies requires 100 octane. From that subset, we can extract sentiments on those views.

I suspect you're dissatisfied because it's neutral on the 100-octane and not biased toward your personal views. I don't have a bias either way for the information gathering process. Are you afraid others might disagree with your opinions?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 17, 2011 8:31 AM    Report this comment

Are you afraid others might disagree with your opinions?"

Certainly not! I just pointed out that when 90% of the questions for me are either "No opinion, N/A" or I can't answer them with a supportable opinion, I do question the value of such surveys. Entering blanks and wishful thinking is not information gathering.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 17, 2011 9:57 AM    Report this comment

Yeah Paul but the survey depends a lot on what you assume.

If someone can come up with 100 UL at current cost then of course I'd take that over mods. Or if you have 10 years of flying left and hope you can keep the status quo going until then, who cares? I have 50+ with a little luck. I don't envision burning a leaded fuel in 2060 that's made only for recreational GA. Actually I don't envision burning any gas that's made only for recreational GA.

My personal opinion is 100 UL at current cost and drop-in (no engine/airframe specific testing) is a pipe dream. The people involved might have good intentions, but, read pelicans pearch #55 in this very web site. 8 years ago GAMI's PRISM was the cats meow, with it everyone could run 94 UL. Allow me to quote:

"When lead is needed, there is NO known practical (chemical) substitute, and none is likely to be found. The big petroleum companies have MAJOR reasons to find a fix (cost), and they and the FAA have been searching and experimenting very hard for nearly 10 years, at great expense. With no results." Now after another 8 years oops PRISM isn't the magic bullet after all (apparently?) but fuel that no-one has managed to ever produce at all before is going to show up at the same cost as current. Hell it might be cheaper! Riiiight.

So answered the survey that I'd pay for mods. But, if you believe that it is possible, or hoping to punt long enough you're retired from flying before it matters, you might answer differently.

Posted by: B Noel | February 17, 2011 9:58 AM    Report this comment

My plane needs 100 LL. I knew that when I bought it a year ago. I believed when the time comes it can be modded economically and I still believe that. I don't *want* to pay for mods but if (when) the choice comes to $8/gal 100 UL or mogas....? When the choice comes to lose 200 lbs gross weight or pay $10,000 for mods? Then you'll find out where folks really stand.

Posted by: B Noel | February 17, 2011 9:59 AM    Report this comment

B Noel: what type of aircraft do you have. I might have inside information for you?

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 17, 2011 10:18 AM    Report this comment

Lars, I have a Lycoming IO-360-A engine. Not on SI 1070 for your 91/96 UL, sadly.

Posted by: B Noel | February 17, 2011 11:01 AM    Report this comment

The underlying assumption is that an unleaded 100-octane fuel will cost more than a leaded fuel because there is no evidence that it won't. Lead is the cheapest octane enhancer on the planet for a reason.

Otherwise, this would lead to this question: If given the choice, would you modify your engine or prefer to have an unleaded avgas at the same price as 100LL. I think I can answer that one for everyone.

So it's thus fair to ask what people are thinking now based on what they know. In other words, would they prefer a lower octane, somewhat cheaper fuel that would require engine modifications or would they prefer to pay more for a higher octane, but no mods. The latter seems to be the case, by a not that narrow margin.

That tells you something about the market, I believe, that's useful to know.

Mark, I'm not sure what opinions you think you want to express that aren't encapsulated in "I want a cheap mogas." There were no fewer than seven questions for the mogas subset.

You've declared yourself a non-player for 100-octane and there were queries for your opinions on that. I think these opinions are valuable because no one is asking these questions of the market at large.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 17, 2011 2:10 PM    Report this comment

For all the words spilled on this topic, one fact remains unassailable: there is no market for a replacement fuel. There is no demand.

You can't even begin to solve that problem unless you ask buyers--or they declare--what they actually want. No demand, no solution.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 17, 2011 2:23 PM    Report this comment

I'm asking for gasoline for my aircraft. There is a proven standard for manufacture and I hold an FAA approved STC for my engine/airframe.

If no one is asking these questions until now, they've either had their head in the sand for a very long time OR are not interested in an answer for the bulk of small GA piston aircraft. I'm sorry, their is no 3rd option to hide behind.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 17, 2011 2:38 PM    Report this comment

B Noel said "...Sure it works out to 69% almost by definition of the numbers you chose i.e. by deciding 60% of the fuel burned by single engine 4 seat airplanes could not have been anything but 100 LL. If you picked 30% the answer would have been 39%..."

If I put your 30% number into my calculations, I arrive at 52% of the total fleet needing 100LL. You may have missed the twin, helo and other activity as to consumption and hours flown. They are gas hogs. If I put in 0% for singles I get 34% of flying fleet needing 100LL.

Yes 60% is a guess based on the FAA estimated consumption of 14.4 GPH for the type. This is much more than 172s (a large cohort) burn.

It is also based on what I see around my LGB tie-down and SNA maintenance shop areas, both in types and frequent flight activities. YMMV

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 17, 2011 2:56 PM    Report this comment

I'm asking for gasoline for my aircraft. <<

You have? Who have you asked? What have you done, exactly, to make the voice of the customer heard? Have you lit up your congressman with demands on ethanol? Written the local airport board or FBO if you don't have mogas on the field? If you have done all this, it's not enough because the suppliers providing this stuff aren't sensing enough of a sustainable market to keep distributors from saying..."I'm not sure if I can get mogas without ethanol."

Comment from the survey: "As an FBO, the cost to run two fuels would be hard to cope with. However, if there was a mandate that "clean" fuel would remain available at a reasonable price, it might be doable."

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 17, 2011 3:47 PM    Report this comment

I think you're too high, Edd. The FAA paid a consultant to analyze the registry based on TCD fuel requirements. They swept practically the entire fleet.

The report said 44 percent require 100-octane or 100LL. You can run quesses on this that include hourly consumption. But what you don't know is hours-flown activity. But it's a reasonable assumption those 44 percent don't burn 44 percent of the fuel.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 17, 2011 3:54 PM    Report this comment

"...I'm asking for gasoline for my aircraft...."

So are we all. The result will be market driven. 100LL drivers burn a lot of gas. I believe we'll have something, probably more expensive.

Fuel providers will go where there is a requirement. If there is enough need for alternatives, there will be product.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 17, 2011 3:57 PM    Report this comment

B. Noel: Your engine is one of the most octane demanding of all engines together with the 300 HP IO 540 engine which just has 2 more cylinders. The fix for you I imagine would be to take that engine down to 180 HP (reduce pistons) and add a turbo that would give you the extra 20 HP back. Sorry that is an investment. Your current engine actually requires more octane than a PA-31 Navajo Chieftain Lycoming TIO540 engine if I remember it right. But if your aircraft is a PA-28R and you could consider an aircraft with similar performance, Piper also once produced the Comanche with 180 HP engines which are good for 91/96 UL and the Comanche with 250 and 260 HP engines which also are fine with 91/96 UL. However I love my machine and you certainly love your machine - so keep fighting for an unleaded replacement for your aircraft. I will support you.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 17, 2011 4:08 PM    Report this comment

Paul - Did the FAA report really list all the aircraft with engines rated for 91/96 octane as 91/96 octane aircraft?

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 17, 2011 4:14 PM    Report this comment

"...I think you're too high, Edd. The FAA paid a consultant to analyze the registry based on TCD fuel requirements. They swept practically the entire fleet...."

As I said, I think the registry has a significant standard error. Aircraft with a type certificate are listed with the original engine. STCs are not normally accounted for.

I'm not guessing at flight hours/activity. I'm using FAA numbers. Are there any better? I know Richard Collins and J. Mac did sometimes question them, they're the best we have, unless there is some secret stash somewhere.

And, the FAA data does account for fuel burn/hr. As a simple example, if you believe the twin fleet burned 107,600,000 gallons over 2,591,000 hours flown @ 41.5 gph, that's about what I estimate for the single engine fleet, based on the hours flown/consumption.

Anyway, I'd like to see further accurate data.

Thx,

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 17, 2011 4:23 PM    Report this comment

Lars, I see you connection and will send off my stuff when I have a chance.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 17, 2011 4:29 PM    Report this comment

FWIW, I fly into two small airports in AZ frequently for fuel. Neither has mogas, although it is available in AZ without ethanol (sometimes). Both have 100LL and Jet A. PAN has tankers for fuel, SJN has underground tanks. I think one might be able to talk to PAN and add a mogas truck, but SJN might be a problem.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 17, 2011 4:45 PM    Report this comment

Edd, the FAA's hours data is composite. There is no way to tell who flew what, so you can throw the dart anywhere you like. One way we tried some years ago was to use Bluebook numbers for each model. Could be off by a factor, for all we know. But their sweep was more detailed than yours and I don't think the STCs are significant enough to account for 10 percent.

Having said this, I think the 70/30 ratio is probably close. But those who question the data backing it up are right to do so.

And Lars, yes the FAA did list the aircraft approved for 91/96. It was 8.6 percent combined. It gave 47 percent for 80 octane.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 17, 2011 4:51 PM    Report this comment

Edd it's 14.4gph average for all pistons, including twins. I'm seriously confused about how you get from here to there. Theres no further breakdown of 100 LL consumption than by fixed wing piston.

The hours flown are broken down further but you don't know how much gas was burned per hour. Not anyway I can see. Unless you have extra FAA data that isn't in the FAA spreadsheets on the web. I can put in not crazy assumptions about who flew what hours that adds up to 14 gph average with <40% needing 100LL.

Posted by: B Noel | February 17, 2011 4:54 PM    Report this comment

Paul, it's the 'what we know' that's a big influence on the results. How much are the mods vs how much is the price going to increase (vs how long is your outlook). 100 LL replacement isn't going to be a little more, I wouldn't bet on it being less than what's commercially available now. All I can find is $9/gal in 55 gal drums for 105 MON UL (I didn't look all that extensively, tho). Whatever you assume the bulk discount is, it ain't half which is what I'm paying for 100 LL right now.

I think the 100 LL users are going to get squeezed from two directions, the high end, lots-o-gas burning operations are going to switch to kerosene sooner or later. The last primarily-working piston airplanes were built at least 30 years ago already.

That will drive up the price of avgas as even less is sold. Meanwhile the low end is going to see the price rise and burn mogas or make two fuel with 9x UL economical.

Once that happens anyone that can jump ship via relatively simple mods from high octane boutique will and the price rise and scarcity will drive it out of existance.

That's what my crystal ball says. I could be wrong.

Posted by: B Noel | February 17, 2011 4:55 PM    Report this comment

"....Edd, the FAA's hours data is composite..."

No. The FAA data that I have is not a composite. It is broken out by type and hours flown by type, such as single, twin-engine, helo, etc.

Give me an email and I'll send you the stuff.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 17, 2011 5:31 PM    Report this comment

"....Edd it's 14.4gph average for all pistons, including twins..."

No, the 14 gph average is for single pistons only.

Twins are listed at 41.5 gph.

Piston helos listed at 18.2 gph

Etc....

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 17, 2011 5:35 PM    Report this comment

OK, e-mail me at avconsumer(&&&)comcast.net

I definitely have not seen that data. The more I think about this, the more I think it doesn't matter. The candidate avgas is not going to be one that strands the legacy fleet, because if it does, Lycoming and Continental cannot exist. "Strands" can carry different definitions, but I take it to mean a fuel that doesn't perform as 100LL does now.

I don't care how you massage the numbers, I don't think there is a meaningful enough market among owners to accept 94UL and modify engines to burn it. Comments and data in the survey are strongly against that direction.

So now you're left with the proposition of propping up demand for whatever replaces 100LL by forcing a single-fuel solution. That will drive away a lot of owners at the bottom end, too. They'll just bail.

That's what I meant by the least damaging scenario. So I think what it is is what people are telling us: a 100-octane drop-in, or near drop-in, with as much mogas as you can get into the market. And I don't think you'll get enough to dent 100-octane sales much, but you might get enough to reduce erosion at the bottom end.

And yes, prices will be higher because demand will be lower.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 17, 2011 7:06 PM    Report this comment

"So I think what it is is what people are telling us: a 100-octane drop-in, or near drop-in, with as much mogas as you can get"

Yes, Finally. We got there! Yea!

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 17, 2011 7:19 PM    Report this comment

Paul - I don't think you're going to find anyone who will derate engines in any meaningful way. There's too much liability to be had when you start sacrificing power and that assumes you could get such a proposal thru the FAA. The key phrase here is "in a meaningful way.". If you can't make it work in a 421 then it doesn't work.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 17, 2011 8:47 PM    Report this comment

Paul it does matter in a sense because if the current 100 LL use is being propped up by big piston twins, those are fading into the sunset sooner or later. They haven't been made in ~30 years and nobody I'm aware of ever plans to build them again. Although I guess there has been a handful of barons built.

To me as casual observer I have to believe there aren't too many dollars per gallon before whatever business use they have is unsustainable. And avgas availability too.

Selling mods for a large percentage of the fleet also actually sounds like a great moneymaker for lycoming and continental if they can price it at a level of pain owners can stand. i.e. I have an IO-360, right now on the kit market I can buy a bored and stroked IO-360 making 195 hp that will run on premium autogas. Why wouldn't lycoming offer the same if it really came down to park or mod time. If they can price it at an overhaul time delta owners can swallow, why not? You might not like it but if the alternative is turning your cardinal into a garden planter....

Posted by: B Noel | February 17, 2011 10:42 PM    Report this comment

We were "there" ten years ago. 100LL with E0 mogas for folks who wanted to carry it in, either in jerrycans or in a neat little utility trailer with a 40 gallon tank. Or in their car's tank with a pump to get it back out.

Hell, I remember a co worker in the '80's who related going flying with a family member in his Beech Staggerwing. He was sent off to buy the cheapest mogas he could find at the local off brand filling station, it was all that big low compression engine needed. I did it for a C150 I rented in the mid 90's too.

We need 100 octane for the planes that use most of the present 100LL. Any mogas or other fuel that can be brought in to make things cheaper for MF's plane and the occasional Staggerwing is just icing on the cake.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 17, 2011 11:55 PM    Report this comment

B Noel, there are literally thousands of Beechcraft, Cessnas, Pipers and Mooney singles that are part of that fleet that need 100 octane. It isn't just twins. And it will take more than a low compression 'kit' to make those certificated planes legal for low octane fuel.

Lycoming was the first heavy hitter that came out and said 94 octane was unacceptable.

Get used to it. You won't get cheap fuel by forcing the high performance fleet to the scrapyards. I need 100 octane, and you need me, too. Stop the calls for killing the top end in a false hope to make the bottom end more affordable.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 18, 2011 12:01 AM    Report this comment

"Selling mods for a large percentage of the fleet also actually sounds like a great moneymaker for lycoming and continental if they can price it at a level of pain owners can stand."

You think $40K for a major overhaul on a certificated aircraft & engine combination to get worse fuel consumption and less power, assuming the certification problems are sorted out by someone, is a winning combination? Sorry, it ain't going to happen.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 18, 2011 12:06 AM    Report this comment

"...OK, e-mail me..."

OK, I will do that after I do a few billable hours tomorrow.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 18, 2011 1:29 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I still think the FAA data saying some 8 % for 91/96 rated aircraft is not correct. 91/96 rated aircraft are the aircraft with 91/96 engines build up to about 1970 until AVGAS 91/96 was no more in production in the US? -- aircraft such as Piper Pa28-180 first generation, Aztecs, Comanches, etc. If you look into Lycomings SI 1070 and all their engine types rated for 91/96 (which is a real bulk) - my understanding there is more of the fleet out there, labelled in the POH as 100 or 100 LL and calculated by the FAA as 100 LL aircraft but in reality they are 91/96. Just take all Lycoming 160, 180, 250 and 260 hp engines -- they are the bulk ? of engines used in the GA world. The FAA is going to recheck their registry. A lot of aircraft do not exist any more. Looking at the large number of AVGAS 80 aircraft. Where are they. Yes they were produced, Cessna 150, Cessna 172 with Teledyne (RR)100 and 145 HP engines etc -- but are these really alive today. When I fly around in Europe I really don,t see them any more -- are they alive in the US -- do you see them at airports in the US?

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 18, 2011 2:08 AM    Report this comment

Lars, you may be right. Getting accurate data on this subject is difficult, which makes the problem more intractable. But again, I'm not sure it matters because I don't see 91/96 or 94UL as a player in the U.S. market.

Greg is right. To economically strand thousands of Bonanzas, Saratogas, 206s, 210s, Mooneys and so forth will gut the industry. Some of those owners will convert engines, but my guess is a large percentage--possibly the majority--will not. That's what they are telling us directly. You can't scrap the twins, either.

A two-fuel 94/100UL system appears to be an impossible fight for the U.S. market. Perhaps you could make inroads on infrastructure through supplier-provided tankage and then you could import the stuff from Europe. I just don't see U.S. refiners wanting to make it.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 18, 2011 5:01 AM    Report this comment

Paul as I see it none of the current candidate 100 UL fuels known to me is THE UNLEADED 100 UL AVGAS, so if nothing turns up around the corner we are speaking about a dual fuel system -- and if not who will give up? You might get the fuelinjected engines to work on high density fuels -- but the carburetted might not. What will then happen to that segment of GA ?

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 18, 2011 5:39 AM    Report this comment

What will then happen to that segment of GA ?<<

It will die, that's what. At least mostly. If it comes to that, will enough FBOs relent and install the tankage for 91/96? Maybe, but it's iffy. I think some would.

Or perhaps the regulators will take pity on this sorry ass industry and allow stimulation of the non-ethanol mogas market sufficient at least to sustain some of the low end.

If it comes to this, you are going see a lot more closed airports and a lot more without fuel of any kind.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 18, 2011 7:00 AM    Report this comment

Greg I'm not 'calling' for anything. I just think thats what will happen. If wishing would solve the problem then ok I wish cheap available 100 UL was around now and forever. Or even leaded, even though I don't like it.

But leaded is going to be banned some time. And there is no drop in 100 UL avgas fuel. It doesn't actually exist. The only 100+ octane fuels that I'm aware (for racing) are not economical. If we had just started on this that's one thing but after 20 years of research at least sorry I'm not so optimistic. Everyone has come up empty.

Engine have to be overhauled at some point anyway, right?? It's not like tomorrow morning we wake up and 100 LL is banned. So if you are already at overhaul time and you can spend another 25% say and convert from burning $8/gallon fuel, or, fuel you know is going to be banned in 10 years, then yeah I think people will do it. Nobody has to call for anything. Nobody has to like it. It will just happen.

Posted by: B Noel | February 18, 2011 7:03 AM    Report this comment

"A two-fuel 94/100UL system appears to be an impossible fight for the U.S. market...import the stuff from Europe."

Paul, Is the USA really that weak that we have to import LSA's from Europe and now fuel as well? Is it really impossible for the USA to build simple airplanes or even make simple gasoline for it?

I wonder how long the dinosaurs(421's, Barons, Navajo's, etc) actually have left before extinction as well. First you starve off the training fleet and then you endorse a more expensive fuel to finish the job.

Impossible fight? The people who don't fight have already been consumed. Only real fighters are left standing in GA. When we're gone, I wonder if much of GA will exist in the USA (or just memories and in museums)?

Fight or lay down. Only one has a future.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 18, 2011 7:43 AM    Report this comment

"So I think what it is is what people are telling us: a 100-octane drop-in, or near drop-in, with as much mogas as you can get into the market. And I don't think you'll get enough to dent 100-octane sales much, but you might get enough to reduce erosion at the bottom end."

This is basically what the pro-autogas folks have been saying all along. Self-fueling is far more common than most 100-octane users, FBOs and airports realize. Having the fuel on the field should have only a minimal impact on 100LL sales, might even increase overall sales, and it will make aviation more affordable, lower the cost of Sport Pilot licenses, etc. LSAs are appearing everywhere these days, and are the airplane of choice for new flight schools. Larger, higher-performance autogas burning planes are around the corner, look to Europe to find them. Autogas is produced in enormous volumes compared to our boutique aviation fuels - it is illogical not to capitalize on this, one of the few instances where GA can take advantage of other industries. BTW - the rapid progress in electric aircraft has been made possible by improved batteries for power tools and laptops, and more efficient electric motors developed for appliances and other applications. We need to think outside of the box more in aviation. The big question is whether we're looking forwards or backwards.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 18, 2011 7:44 AM    Report this comment

B Noel: In Sweden Hjelmco has advocated for the last 20 years -- that when you come to a TBO for your engine evaluate to convert to an engine you know has a fuel in the future. For example most Cessna 172 owners with Lyc 0320-H engines have converted to Lyc 0360 engines (US STC) getting a really good aircraft with increased performance or changed to 0320-D engines which are good for 91/96 UL fuel. This is what should be advised to every aviation consumer today when its time for the engine overhaul. Consider your options. Many of us fly 100 hours a years. An overhauled engine is then written off during 24 years (2400 hours) -- will there be any leaded fuel for 24 years. Doubt that.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 18, 2011 8:04 AM    Report this comment

Yes Lars I agree completely. In fact I was just looking at the IO-390 some more. Already STC'd on many airframes. Cardinal, Arrow, Mooney. I see Mooney is offering 36k for the STC with a factory reman. Versus 31k for factory reman on the IO-360 according to AOPA Vref. That's 15% delta and I have to assume a lower compression IO-390 would be able to make IO-360 power or very close. The kit plane guys claim they can make 195 on an IO-360 bored/stroked to 375 cu in

I'm not going to scrap my plane for a 5k difference at overhaul time and neither are all the Cardinals, Arrows, Mooneys, etc.

Posted by: B Noel | February 18, 2011 8:38 AM    Report this comment

I should have said, 195 hp on an IO-360 bored/stroked to 375 cu in with low compression pistons to burn autogas

Posted by: B Noel | February 18, 2011 8:41 AM    Report this comment

BTW if I could get out an overhaul for 5k delta for my low compression IO-390 plus another 5k airframe mod to burn autogas I'd be money ahead by mid time at the current $1.00 mogas to avgas delta at an airport near me. And I believe that split will widen as time goes on. I very much hope Kent and company are sucessful in getting ethanol out and mogas available. That gives everyone options.

Posted by: B Noel | February 18, 2011 9:44 AM    Report this comment

BTW Greg I don't think Lycoming has said "no 94 UL" I think they said that all of their engines could not run on 94 UL, unmodified.

June 2 2008 Recognizing global concerns about the immediate and long-term availability of aviation grade 100LL fuel, Lycoming Engines, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, today announced an unleaded automotive gasoline approval program for its standard compression ratio O-360 and IO-360 product lines.

April 21, 2009 Lycoming announces the IO-233 LSA. At its most fuel efficient, it will sip just 3.6 gallons per hour of fuel. Even better, the engine will be approved for use of EN228 and ASTM D4814 automotive based fuels with supplemental specs for safe operation

July 27, 2009 The 350HP high performance, twin-turbocharged and intercooled, 540 cubic inch displacement TEO-540-A1A is the first iE2 engine model planned for FAA certification.....The iE2 system will increase fuel efficiency, reliability, and make alternative fuel consumption possible without major hardware changes, protecting the customer's investment

Lycoming 10 questions about fuel says "The [industry] coalition has proposed a transition from 100 LL to an unleaded fuel over a 10 year period....It would give owners and operators time to upgrade impacted aircraft materials within the natural TBO cycles of their engines and aircraft, if necessary."

Posted by: B Noel | February 18, 2011 10:05 AM    Report this comment

For what it's worth and that quoted statement notwithstanding, Lycoming has said the IE2 will not close the octane gap on higher output engines.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 18, 2011 11:28 AM    Report this comment

Paul, meaning that a retrofit ie2 type system won't allow lower octane on legacy airplanes / engines? I can believe that.

Or that they plan to sell newly certified engines that will never be able to burn anything less than 100LL or currently non-existant alternative?

If the latter I have no sympathy for anyone that buys them, that's for sure.

Posted by: B Noel | February 18, 2011 12:22 PM    Report this comment

The Hjelmco AVGAS 91/96 UL has been running satisfactorily in a TIO 540 350 HP Lycoming engine at Lycoming with everything in the red and at 94 % rated power and without the IE 2. This confirms data from GAMI some 10 years ago with the PRISM system (at 100 % rated power) but Lycoming made it without and got 94 %.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 18, 2011 2:04 PM    Report this comment

B Noel writes, "I don't think Lycoming has said "no 94 UL" I think they said that all of their engines could not run on 94 UL, unmodified."

No, Lycoming is actively lobbying for 100 octane. A Lycoming executive wrote, in an AOPA PILOT piece last Fall, "Lycoming is highly concerned that the effort needs to deliver 100 MON unleaded avgas or we risk breaking the back of piston general aviation. Our position is wrong if the owner-operators are willing to accept a dramatic overall decrease in aircraft performance and the higher costs that will likely come with lower demand for piston aviation fuel and services... We urge you to write to your associations and your governmental representatives. Ask for their support of a logical transition plan. Ask them to fund an FAA mandate to support this issue. Tell them 100-octane unleaded aviation fuel is important for everyone."

They're pretty clear about it. So am I.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 18, 2011 3:23 PM    Report this comment

Lycoming says the higher output engines will run on less than 100 octane, but only if derated. In other words, if you want much more than 324 HP, you'll need 100-octane to do it.

Continental has a slightly different view, obviously. But Continental also said they think think the market for FADECs is strong enough to support their stance.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 18, 2011 4:17 PM    Report this comment

I have yet to hear an authoritative source tell me just what MP a TCM IO-520 or IO-550 would have to be limited to in order to keep the same detonation margins, or how much power a low compression IO-550 would be able to generate.

While it is well known low octane fuel can be accommodated by limiting manifold pressures, no authoritative source has outlined a road map to certify any Beechcraft for operations at less than the horsepower specified under the TC.

Lycoming doesn't think their customers would find the results acceptable, and I think they're right.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 18, 2011 4:43 PM    Report this comment

Also, importantly, where do the new POHs come from with regard to MTOW and Density Altitude calculations.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 18, 2011 6:13 PM    Report this comment

Greg I'm skeptical of how honest that Lycoming exec is being. It's suicidal for them to spook owners before they have any good options for their most profitable engines (new and overhaul). If the EPA rattles their sword a little more and Lycoming admits 100 UL is impossible, how many 1mm Malibu's is Piper going to sell??

Writing your associations and government representatives isn't going to do anything. Your government representatives have been chasing the mirage of 100 UL through the desert for 20+ years. All the letters in the world aren't going to make something technically/economically feasible. If they did, write a few demanding $30,000 LSA's, please!!

In ~5 years when my plane reaches TBO it's mod or sell depending on the options. I'm not pouring $30k in a re-up with boutique for another 25 years. If a certified, fielded, (almost)-same-cost-as-today 100 UL existed that would make the decision more "interesting". But that's 100-1 against imho. YMMV

Posted by: B Noel | February 18, 2011 6:57 PM    Report this comment

Edd no performance info at all has to be published for CAR 3 under 6,000 lbs.

That's how people get away with STCs for VGs, prop change etc with nada change to the AFM performance info.

See AD 73-25-04. Add a placard, throw all performance and operating information in the trash, and have a nice day.

Posted by: B Noel | February 18, 2011 7:12 PM    Report this comment

NB, so now you think Lycoming is lying to us. I don't.

You're missing the point of performance specs. I have them. They're based on the engine on the type certificate. I need to know how to determine whether I can take off from a given runway at a given weight at a given temperature and pressure altitude with a given wind. Stipulating for the moment what you say is true for my airplane (and I suspect it isn't), telling me I can legally fly after throwing all the info I have in the trash doesn't solve the problem. I still need the information to keep the margin of safety I have now.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 18, 2011 8:15 PM    Report this comment

No one can question that the idea of 100 UL at reasonable prices is attractive. So are 30k LSA's and 1mm VLJ's and blue skies and tailwinds.

But, when FAA (William Hughes Lab) has published papers like "Tests of 47 Unleaded High Octane Blends" 2008, ""Full Scale Tests of 30 Unleaded High Octane Blends" 2004 etc etc going back 20+ years I have to believe it's a tough nut to crack. Read Pelican's Perch #55 here on Avweb Mr. Deakin says they tried **40,000** anti-knock additives in 1921 before finding lead.

So given that, Lycoming calling for you to write your congressman about 100 octane UL as if this is the first day anyone thought about it is maybe, just possibly, not entirely genuine.

I'm not missing the point of performance specs, I get what they're used for. That doesn't mean the government actually required them. And if the government doesn't require them, nobody *has* to update your flight manual. They can or can not, depending on your OEM's attitude and/or present day existence. Or whoever does the STC as the case may be.

I don't know if they're required for your particular airplane because I don't know what you have or what the cert basis is, but I do know until amendment 21 of part 23, 1978 no published performance was required for airplanes under 6,000 lbs. Virtually all legacy GA airplanes have an earlier cert basis.

Posted by: B Noel | February 18, 2011 9:53 PM    Report this comment

The point you're continuing to miss about performance specs is that, once they've been published, they exist, and they exist for most certificated airplanes of the last half century. I'm required to have the handbook in the plane, and to not do things like try to take off on runways shorter than the book says would be required. It will take the Feds to order it out of the plane. Don't hold your breath.

I don't know of a single STC that would cause a certificated airplane to fall short of handbook performance, the reason they don't require new ones for the STC's you've mentioned.

There are now two 100+UL formulations proposed, and both are claimed by their developers to be competitive with 100LL in cost (and at least one of them has a long history of delivering on promises), so your snide references to 30K LSA's and tailwinds forever are misplaced. There's also the possibility for 100VLL as an interim solution.

In short, Lycoming has it right. Anything short of 100 octane may break the back of GA. Next to my house and 401K, my single most valuable asset is my aging V35A with modern avionics that took me a year and a half to fund, and some on this thread would rather trash it than pay 50 cents more a gallon for avgas. You will have a fight on your hands going forward.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 18, 2011 10:43 PM    Report this comment

My flight manual tells me how to clean the upholstery, too. That doesn't make it legally binding. Despite what you think performance info is not actually required for a whole lot of GA airplanes. Not all of the flight manual is approved data. Some like older Piper manuals are very explicit about that, and some manufacturers much less so. In any event it's a moot point because like Todd said, not likely that anyone reputable will try to stc a performance loss. Will be an engine mod to maintain power. Maybe a gross weight reduction for someone with no good options.

I can't speak for anyone on this thread but myself but I don't wish anyones airplane to be trashed and I hope no one wishes for mine to be trashed. But wishing and fighting and arguing and whatever isn't going to make some technically/economically unfeasible fuel magically appear.

And, you can't force anyone to fund your choices by paying extra for a fuel they don't need or want. Commercial operators are going to make business decisions and there is no future for big displacement piston airplanes commercially. Of course they will be around for a while but they are fading every year, not growing in use. And smaller guys are going to make economic decisions too and bail to mogas if avgas is too much to bear.

Posted by: B Noel | February 18, 2011 11:48 PM    Report this comment

Naturally the 100 UL developers claim their fuel will be competitive. If they didn't think they would, they wouldn't be developing their product.

You can bet your guy is going to throw the hail mary. And I wish them luck, too. But I'm not betting on it.

The part you're missing is, I don't have to fight anyone to survive. You can bet on it cheap 100 UL being available if you chose. Whoever is right or wrong will collect the consequences of the decisions they made and so that's life. Hope you do have blue skies and tailwinds in any case

Posted by: B Noel | February 18, 2011 11:55 PM    Report this comment

Naturally, you intimate Swift and GAMI are just BSing, saying what they have to say, and try to conflate trivial directives for cleaning your carpet with the meat of the operating handbook. Might you just be saying what you need to say to win this argument?

It just keeps coming back to those of us who do most of the flying and using most of the fuel are the ones that need 100 octane. If you have a little LSA that burns 5gph and you have a two hour $100 hamburger planned, either buy 100UL from the airport or pump 10 gallons of E0 mogas from your car into your plane and save the $15.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 19, 2011 1:00 AM    Report this comment

It just keeps coming back to those of us who do most of the flying and using most of the fuel are the ones that need 100 octane. If you have a little LSA that burns 5gph and you have a two hour $100 hamburger planned, either buy 100UL from the airport or pump 10 gallons of E0 mogas from your car into your plane and save the $15<<

Here's what I think is going on here. It's a mistake to think that the market that doesn't require 100-octane is a monolithic block. It isn't. Only a percentage of those users have the I'm-pissed-because-you're-forcing-me-to-buy-octane-I-don't-need attitude.

What is that percentage? No one knows, but from the comments of 360-plus people in the survey who don't need 100-octane, I think it's about half. In other words, only half of the people who don't need 100-octane want or will insist on having it available. The rest just don't care.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 19, 2011 5:56 AM    Report this comment

Greg -- if a future 100 UL AVGAS does not burn at all in a carburetted engine -- what shall these pilots and 150000+ aircraft do?

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 19, 2011 5:57 AM    Report this comment

In other words, because of the nature of their flying, they won't haul gas to the airport to save even a dollar or two and if mogas is available or not, it's not going to change much for them. That could change if a 100-octane replacement is $4 or $5 over mogas.

Unless policy changes at the national level, mogas is not going to be a major player on airports. But that's not the same as no player. Because of uncertainty of supply, it's not going to achieve widespread distribution, I don't think. Give it penetration five fold over current levels and you're talking 500 or 600 airports.

In the meantime, the diehard cheapskates will insist on mogas and that is market demand that ought to be served. It's a mistake to actively reject it in the favor of one fuel only because you're worried about erosion of volume that will drive the 100-octane price up.

Actively rejectiing mogas will erode the lower end of the market, the active owners supporting airports, flightschools delivering new students and future buyers, owners of experimentals.

The flightschools are a multiplier. If you force some of them to stop playing by refusing them the mogas option, you are loping off desperately needed student starts which will ultimately tank the sales of the 100-octane the industry critically needs which will become the standard fuel.

No matter what you do, there's a certain screwing that's going to happen, even of the avgas replacement adheres to near current prices. (Not impossible.)

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 19, 2011 6:04 AM    Report this comment

I think mogas is self limiting. It is not going to flower into great demand. Only a small portion of airports will put in the tankage. Some who might put in the tankage won't be satisfied that they can find supply.

Even some airports that will put it in will find that people who can use it, won't. Some buyers just don't like the fuel and don't like the idea of it and some of them own Cessna 150s and LSAs. That's what people are telling us.

So I say give this slice of the market what it wants in as many places as possible. The tradeoff *might* be a little lost volume of 100-octane against some downside protection and support of people who really don't want to pay for octane they don't need.

They will never accept the argument that it's for the good of aviation and the airport. They'll bail out. And then you'll lose the high-octane volume anyway. We can't afford to lose any of them.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 19, 2011 6:11 AM    Report this comment

Paul -- is that to understand a dual AVGAS high/low octane or AVGAS and MOGAS solution ?

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 19, 2011 6:17 AM    Report this comment

Yes, a dual avgas/mogas solution.

My guess is that the path is pretty clear that the single choice is going to be a 100-octane fuel of some kind. 94UL is not going to fly.

Mogas could then be a secondary choice in niche, local markets that want to support it. But that won't be many, in my estimation. But some is better than none.

Someone in the survey comments suggested D6227 82UL, an approved aviation fuel. But this makes no sense. Thirty years ago, the refinery industry tilted toward a single fuel--100LL--partially because declining demand no longer supported two fuels.

Now the demand is more than a third less than what it was then and we're going to try for two aviation fuels? I can't see how that could be sold. Maybe it can. But I'd be surprised.

I'm fully aware this available in Europe. But as they say at O'Hare, this ain't Europe and that white stuff on the ground ain't grits.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 19, 2011 6:51 AM    Report this comment

The people that don't like mogas may change when companies like lycoming come out and say it's ok. Right now Lycoming SI-1070 says "it's not permissible in any instance to use automotive fuel". But recent press releases make it seem like they are on the path to approve mogas in many of their engines. Of course rotax LSA's already are approved. That covers a big chunk of flight school airplanes. Pilots that came up burning mogas might think differently than the community now, especially when the manufacturer recommends it.

If mogas is OEM blessed, corn free and available to me it doesn't seem like too many cents/gallon from the current spread before flight schools find a tank of mogas makes a real difference to their profit margin.

Greg you're just wrong about the performance stuff if you care you can look up FAR 23.1587 pre-amendment 21 and CAR 3.780. Both are online. Or don't, it's not worth arguing about.

I don't think GAMI and Swift are BSing they honestly believe they can do it. GAMI honestly believed they could solve the problem with PRISM a decade ago, too, but they didn't. There's people that honestly believe they're going to bring flying cars and supersonic bizjets and low cost turbofans etc to market too. Good luck but I wouldn't place a $30,000 bet on it, which is the bet I'm making on GAMI/Swift if I o/h my engine today to only burn on 100 octane

Posted by: B Noel | February 19, 2011 10:37 AM    Report this comment

Paul, the part I'm still confused about is if aviation is so dependent on the people that burn the most avgas, what is going to happen when the big displacement commercially operated airplanes start retiring? The airport I used to be based at a congo line of 402s comes out every morning at 7am. That one operation has to be burning more avgas that every old guy in a bo within 100 miles. Of course they aren't going to disappear tomorrow, but they are going to disappear (to jet-a) sometime. It's a question of when not if.

For extra credit what happens when the OEMs start selling airplanes that are 94UL ready because of the uncertainty? Like Cirrus already has. After say 10 years the highest end of piston GA being 94 UL ready, of that how does that change the pressures on various 100 LL users?

Posted by: B Noel | February 19, 2011 10:37 AM    Report this comment

Oops that got mixed up. After say 10 years of the highest end of piston GA being 94 UL ready, how does that change the pressure on various 100 LL users?

Posted by: B Noel | February 19, 2011 10:40 AM    Report this comment

Paul -- there is still a long long way to get the high density AVGAS fuels certified. What happends if they don,t get certified?

These fuels are still 80-90 % aromatics!

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 19, 2011 11:06 AM    Report this comment

Lars what is the significance of % aromatics?

Are you referring to environmental issues? Or something else??

Posted by: B Noel | February 19, 2011 11:45 AM    Report this comment

G100UL is not 80 percent aromatic. It's in the range of 30 percent with the xylenes or TMB blends, the rest is aviation alkylate. I'm sure you know this. Even some avgas has up 30 percent tolulene now.

Swift is 80 percent or maybe a little more mesitylene (aromatic), the rest isopentane. It's unclear to me if it has exhibited cold-start issues. I've heard reports on both sides of the claim. GAMI has just gotten into the carburetor engine testing for G100UL.

But you are right that this should be known before going down the road to a 100-octane solution, which argues strongly for ASTM to accelerate its approval and the FAA to do whatever it takes to get STCs to field test the fuels ASAP. Nothing is better than a large-scale field test, if you ask me.

If they don't get certified, then you drop back to something else. I know you have an interest in 91/96, so you also have an interest in questioning the viability of proposed 100 solutions. Fair to point this out, I think.

I know of at least one other research project on 100 that's close to coming out of the ground. So there may be more on the table soon. If we have to revert to a 94 octane solution, I am convinced it will be a near disaster for the industry. Those legacy airplanes support a lot of subsidiary businesses and if you lose them, the businesses go with them.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 19, 2011 11:51 AM    Report this comment

Paul, the part I'm still confused about is if aviation is so dependent on the people that burn the most avgas, what is going to happen when the big displacement commercially operated airplanes start retiring? <<

This is a conundrum that I can't answer and neither can anyone else. To me, it's a question of when and where do you want to take the hit? If you decide on 94UL now and those high-perfomance airplanes require mods, a large percentage of the market will just say so. No one knows how large.

Some will scrap the airplanes and move to turbines, some will do the mods and some will just exit the market entirely. In a market that's already on its ass, how much of a spiral will that ignite? And if demand for your 94UL goes into freefall, what will that do to prices?

If you pick a 100-octane solution now and it's more expensive than 100LL, which it almost certainly will be, you'll lose some players, too. Which is the worst choice? My guess is the 94UL route, based on interviews and surveys. But it's just an informed guess.

Of 100UL is the choice, it might be a 10 or 20 year fuel, replaced by something else later on. It's a lot easier to back off the octane machine than it is to crank it up.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 19, 2011 11:59 AM    Report this comment

That spiral could also be kicked off if no-one makes any decision, various outside-big-oil guys continue to be almost there but not quite on 100 UL, and EPA continues to make noise but no firm phase out plan. Which is what the next 10 yrs are going to be imho. Commercial operators have to be getting nervous. You can't play chicken with the EPA forever.

Yeah it's fairly cynical. But that's why I believe we need mogas as a safety valve. For me I'm not spending a lot of cash to lock myself into high octane for another 25 years when overhaul time comes. The picture is too uncertain. Hopefully by 5-10 years when that comes due for me it will be clearer.

Posted by: B Noel | February 19, 2011 12:40 PM    Report this comment

We just missed a good opportunity to put a push behind FAA. The FAA budget was just authorized. It included a $.14/gal. increase on jet fuel to finance Nexgen.

An increase in the 100LL tax, earmarked solely to the FAA to accelerate efforts to approve a replacement might be useful.

Call or write your representatives.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 19, 2011 1:14 PM    Report this comment

That spiral could also be kicked off if no-one makes any decision, various outside-big-oil guys continue to be almost there but not quite on 100 UL, and EPA continues to make noise but no firm phase out plan. Which is what the next 10 yrs are going to be imho. Commercial operators have to be getting nervous. You can't play chicken with the EPA forever.<<

That is exactly right and is the nut of the problem. This summer at OSH, one of the owner group representatives said that the crisis of confidence and overhang of doubt was just stirred up by the press. He said it didn't exist.

Yet our survey reveals that 21 percent of owners say they definitely won't upgrade or purchase another airplane until the fuel supply is sorted out. Another 30 percent say they are in wait-and- see mode.

Only an idiot would think that uncertainty isn't a drag on the market that's already in dire straits.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 19, 2011 2:27 PM    Report this comment

"Yet our survey reveals that 21 percent of owners say they definitely won't upgrade or purchase another airplane until the fuel supply is sorted out. Another 30 percent say they are in wait-and- see mode."

As someone more focused on sport aviation, the folks who fly solely for fun, the move to SP/LSA continues. In my 190-member EAA chapter, most of the age 60+ pilots have already switched to SP/LSA or intend to. Many of our newest pilots have gone the SP/LSA route from the start to lower costs, and the most popular new kits are the E-LSA RV-12 and CH750. Just today at our meeting folks commented on the increasing number of legacy planes rotting away on ramps or surrounded by weeds. I would not consider owning any airplane that can not use autogas, to be immune from whatever evolves from 100LL replacement effort. Sport aviators aren't sitting around waiting for an alphabet group to tell them what to do.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 19, 2011 5:30 PM    Report this comment

Anyone who sits and waits for the AOPA to tell them what to do deserves what they get.

The geezer move to Sport will stop if the FAA abolishes the 3rd class med certificate, which some think is being seriously considered. It's about aging pilots and the FAA aeromedical branch, not fuel.

There have always been ramp rats and the older the fleet, the more there will be. The oldest Bonanzas are now 64 years old, the youngest v-tails are about 29. I doubt many of the glass wonders (conventional or sp/lsa) will last as long before they're not worth keeping airworthy. And I'd bet the experimental fleet on average will fare even worse.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 19, 2011 9:23 PM    Report this comment

Aromatics are heavy hydrocarbons, burning slow (partly outside cylinders) with low energy content. The present D910 AVGAS specification effectively limits aromatics to around 20-25 % because of the energy content gets too low. There has been AVGAS out there with about 30 % aromatics but those were Russian and Chinese and designed for low RPM high bore radials.There is no western made aircraft piston engine I know about that is designed for such a fuel. I have no detailed insight in the formulas of any of the high density fuels under test right now - more than the density indicated. My understanding is that the from Paul indicated TMB and mesitylene are basically the same component = aromatics and xylene in various forms are also aromatics. I have no special interest in the 91/96 UL avgas issue other than a recognition. There is no patent there etc. On the other side there are patents on all the other fuels discussed if I am right.

At the end right now there is only one proven solution (from Sweden) and that is 100 LL together with unleaded AVGAS 91/96 UL (made from the same base fuel of 100 LL)TOGETHER taking down the TOTAL to amount of lead in the air to levels acceptable to the environmental authorities. Then of course we have the Hjelmco 100 UL (no patent) from 2005 with ethers but that fuel is effectively stalled in the various US organizations that are to handle this. http://www.hjelmco.com/upl/files/8900.pdf Why not take your time and read the article.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 20, 2011 4:45 AM    Report this comment

There has been AVGAS out there with about 30 % aromatics but those were Russian and Chinese and designed for low RPM high bore radials.<<

This may be true, Lars. But there is avgas being sold in the U.S., routinely, with as much as 29.8 percent toluene. This is produced by a major refiner and I have seen the third party lab analysis of these fuels. Some refinery people reading this--and I know they do from time to time--will know this.

I have read about your ether-based fuels. I get it. I think they are a great option. When I ask about these, I don't get on-the-record responses on why they have stalled in the approval process.

As you know, the reason is probably that the U.S. refinery industry doesn't like the ethers, given how they got burned on the MTBE lawsuits. It is pointless to compare us to Europe, because we are not Europe. Whether the FAA and EPA can somehow come together and press the refiners to warm up to an ETBE-based fuel is unknown, if indeed resistance from the oil industry is the real reason ether fuels have been looked upon with disfavor. If there are other reasons, I sure wish someone would tell me what they are.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 20, 2011 7:19 AM    Report this comment

Greg: "The geezer move to Sport will stop if the FAA abolishes the 3rd class med certificate, which some think is being seriously considered."

I was trying to make the point that many younger pilots are choosing SP/LSA, it is not only about the elderly. If I were starting over, knowing how I have used my license since 1973, I too would probably be fine with SP, especially with the cost of getting one. Flight schools too have discovered this and are adding LSAs - I'd bet the vast majority of all Skycatchers are going to Cessna Pilot Centers. Paul have you heard anything?

"There have always been ramp rats and the older the fleet, the more there will be."

True, but that was often due to lack of hangar space. Check major GA fields around the country now - there are plenty of vacancies and waiting lists are short, if at all. I can not remember this from my 40 years hanging around airports. Clearly the lower end of GA is eroding, and is has much to do with the hit the recreational pilot takes at the Avgas pump. These folks, BTW, are the ones that keep GA airports alive with hangar rent and annuals in the local maintenance shop. Airports do not live solely from fuel sales. Recreational pilots are also the ones that run EAA chapters and are willing to go to bat for their airport on their own nickel. Lose them and GA dies.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 20, 2011 7:49 AM    Report this comment

Paul - very interesting 29,6 % toluene-- the D910 standard clearly states "total aromatic levels above 25 % in aviation gasoline are, therefore extremely unlikely". Further "Thus the heating value limits toluene to about 24 %. Xylenes have a slightly higher heating value and therefore would permit somewhat higher aromatic concentrations: however their boiling points above 138 C limit their inclusion at levels not higher than 10 %."

All fuels must meet "fit for purpose". I would say that a 30 % toluene AVGAS in the US is outside the scope of "fit for purpose " and would require same testing as any other new AVGAS 100 UL candidate with high aromatic contents such as the Swift fuel. In summary: selling such a fuel is as I see it illegal under standard US D910.

By the way are we speaking about volume or weight % ? I speak about volume as the D910 does. (ref D910-07a § X.1.8)

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 20, 2011 12:16 PM    Report this comment

"[It] has much to do with the hit the recreational pilot takes at the Avgas pump"

I'm sorry, but that seems so far off I can't help but consider it delusional. Around my haunts, 100LL is less than a buck more expensive than premium mogas. Five bucks an hour is not breaking anyone's aviation budget, and I don't see any young aviators buying LSA's or spending their time building their own airplanes rather than pursuing romance and career. I do see them renting C150's (which sell for a small fraction of the LSA's on the market) and building time.

I've been on a hangar wait list at my home airport for over 10 years, finally down to #5... Airport management is more interested in restricting supply of inexpensive hangars than it is in filling demand. I had to wait for several months just to get a tie down at other airport I need storage (rather than pay 7 bucks a day in transient), and after a year, I'm only a couple years away from getting a shadeport space. Maybe.

Ramp rat status is not from having to store an airplane outside, it's from not flying it. Being faced with an annual from hell, it's left to set for a time when the owner has the money to fix it, which ends up being never.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 20, 2011 2:50 PM    Report this comment

I can probably have the test report sent your way...

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 20, 2011 2:50 PM    Report this comment

>. A lot of aircraft do not exist any more. Looking at the large number of AVGAS 80 aircraft. Where are they. Yes they were produced, Cessna 150, Cessna 172 with Teledyne (RR)100 and 145 HP engines etc -- but are these really alive today. When I fly around in Europe I really don,t see them any more -- are they alive in the US -- do you see them at airports in the US?

Lars – yes there are a lot of those engines in use in the US. More fuel efficient airplanes went to Europe in the 80’s & 90’s. Many gas hogs came back.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 20, 2011 3:55 PM    Report this comment

>I have yet to hear an authoritative source tell me just what MP a TCM IO-520 or IO-550 would have to be limited to in order to keep the same detonation margins, or how much power a low compression IO-550 would be able to generate. While it is well known low octane fuel can be accommodated by limiting manifold pressures, no authoritative source has outlined a road map to certify any Beechcraft for operations at less than the horsepower specified under the TC. Greg – In the I0-520 you’d have to limit it a lot. The testing we conducted in the 1980’s was, at least up to that time, the only effort that had been expended seeking a minimum octane rating. We tested this engine on 89.5 octane. It detonated, and we went no lower than that. What we found though was that with ADI the engine delivered rated power without detonation even on 89.5 AKI. The FAA wanted some margin for error so wrote the STC for 91. That is the beauty of ADI. You get rated power on low octane, Nothing else delivers that.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 20, 2011 3:56 PM    Report this comment

>I'm not missing the point of performance specs, I get what they're used for. That doesn't mean the government actually required them. And if the government doesn't require them, nobody *has* to update your flight manual. B. Noel – Derating won’t happen on certificated airplanes without a finding of an "equivalent level of safety", and for most airplanes, that’s going to be pretty tough. I don't see how one can reduce takeoff throttle settings and maintain the safety margins you have a full rated power.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 20, 2011 3:58 PM    Report this comment

>If we have to revert to a 94 octane solution, I am convinced it will be a near disaster for the industry.<

ADI isn’t just a mogas solution. If the industry goes to 94 avgas, then anyone with an ADI system is ready for either mogas OR low octane avgas of 94 or even less octane. Those larger airplanes people are worried about if we end up with low octane avgas, they can be converted to ADI and the problem is resolved. ADI works, there's no disputing that.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 20, 2011 4:01 PM    Report this comment

Todd I don't think there is any elos requirement if I can show that the airplane meets all requirements of whatever it's cert basis is.

For single engine and multi CAR 3 under 6,000 lbs that's just a minimum climb rate at various conditions. Takeoff, OEI (multi), balked landing. CAR 3.85a

I don't have to update the charts. I might have to tell the guy the original charts are invalid.

I completely agree though most likely the only way you would actually be able to meet the requirements on less hp for many if not most airplanes is gross weight reduction. That whole approach is exactly what they were doing in that AD I posted. You could comply with the AD (gross weight reduction), or install a climb prop. Not very palatable unless you have no other option.

Posted by: B Noel | February 20, 2011 4:38 PM    Report this comment

Mr. Noel - Perhaps, but I've had perfectly good STC's shot down by the FAA because of elos requirements which I felt were completely unreasonable.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 20, 2011 4:46 PM    Report this comment

I don't agree $5/hr is no big deal. If you're running a flight school that's the difference between having the plane hangered and not, paying cfi's a decent wage and not, nearly a free overhaul, nearly free 100 hours, etc.

Even if you're a private guy it's like getting a free annual, or half off your insurance, etc. If nobody really cares about $1/gallon why does airnav etc post fuel prices?

Sure it might not be worth it if you have to carry jerry cans to the airport, I don't disagree with that. Or if you think it's poison that will wreck your engine. But if it is actually already available on the airport and the manf says have at it??

Posted by: B Noel | February 20, 2011 4:52 PM    Report this comment

"Not very palatable unless you have no other option."

The other option is to fight for 100 octane, and it will be a fight. The AOPA may even join in, after it's a done deal.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 20, 2011 5:15 PM    Report this comment

BN, it's a cheap debating trick to change from your first claim, that it's a buck a gallon that is chasing folks into sport planes, to a much lower threshold, "caring" about a buck a gallon. I care about a buck a gallon. I care about saving money where I can. I buy oil filters in cases of six. I buy oil from the jobber to save $10 on the oil change I do by myself to save even more.

However, the folks fighting to force low octane fuel onto everyone put at risk the roughly $100K I have sunk into my airplane, and that trumps the cheapskates in my book. Trash my plane, or force a $40K expenditure so you can save pennies, and I'm out. Finished. And I won't be the only one.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 20, 2011 5:26 PM    Report this comment

Let's do some math this one freight operation I mentioned has 12 402's. According to Vref 402's avg 625 hrs/yr since birth. Assuming they burn about 40gph that's 300,000 gallons/year 100 LL. Using the same I get that the Cardinal RG fleet in the US burns about 1.2 million gallons/year.

One single freight operation in one city in one state switching to Jet-A, or buying Todd's ADI, has as much effect on avgas as 1/4 of the Cardinal RG's in the US. I'm not sure if the personal guys like us have as much say as you think

Posted by: B Noel | February 20, 2011 5:40 PM    Report this comment

Also I didn't make any claim that $1/gallon was chasing people into LSA's. I'm not sure if I agree with it. So it's not a "cheap debating trick"

Posted by: B Noel | February 20, 2011 5:44 PM    Report this comment

Going back several of your posts and finding no hint of a freight operation you were discussing, I have no idea what you are talking about.

How much fuel does the Cardinal RG fleet use compared to the Cessna Skycatcher fleet? For that matter, what is the fuel consumption of the entire LSA category compared to just the Beech singles...

That's about what I thought. LSA is a sideline, a hope. I wish it well, too, but trashing the high performance certificated fleet is not the answer.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 20, 2011 6:04 PM    Report this comment

Go back further. I don't see what LSA fuel burn has got to do with anything actually.

I'm saying that when commercially used big displacement piston airplanes retire they take big swaths of 100 LL demand out with them. And they will retire. They haven't been built in 30 years, commercial aviation is going to jet-a and it's not coming back. All your "fighting" isn't going to change that reality.

The flight schools don't actually need 100 LL either. And if they have a lower cost option, they are going to take it. Those places already are barely scraping by.

Meanwhile all the big oil companies, cessna, lycoming, etc spent the last couple decades searching for a drop in 100 UL, tested literally hundreds of blends and came up empty. GA is already on a 20 year exemption from EPA rules (no building engines that need leaded fuel clean air act 1992).

So I don't really want to mod my engine or airplane or whatever either but I also don't see a bright future for affordable 100 octane. ymmv

I'm not sure who exactly the folks fighting for low octane are but if they exist all they have to do is nothing and they'll get their wish

Posted by: B Noel | February 20, 2011 6:34 PM    Report this comment

Sorry, I did confuse you with another guy for part of that. In any case, I never said $1 a gallon was "no big deal", intimating I did remains a cheap debating trick.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 20, 2011 6:59 PM    Report this comment

I'm not sure who exactly the folks fighting for low octane are but if they exist all they have to do is nothing and they'll get their wish.<<

Not sure where you think this is coming from, but there is no evidence of a lot of demand for a low-octane aviation fuel. There is apparently little demand for the modifications of engines that would burn this fuel. There is strong evidence of demand for 100 octane and some evidence of demand for mogas. But mogas is not the same as another aviation fuel.

As for retiring airplanes, yes, they will eventually. But the 340s, the 421s, 414s and Navajos have many years of life left in them and some do things that nothing else will.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 20, 2011 7:37 PM    Report this comment

Paul I was joking Greg said there are "folks fighting to force low octane fuel onto everyone". If nothing happens, no lead means lower octane. It takes something happening for that not to be the future.

In my area DC-6's were flying cargo until so far as I can tell 1998, exactly 40 years after the last one was built. That's 15 years from now for the 340s et al.

Something to ponder if you are thinking about a big investment into a hobby, which I'll be at in 5-10 yrs.

Posted by: B Noel | February 20, 2011 9:29 PM    Report this comment

No-one really commented on my thoughts of the age of the current GA-pilot population. Who is going to fly these 100 octane Bonanzas, Barons etc in the future? My feeling for Europe is none -- and for the US ?? Affordable and new VLJ:s with modern cock-pits and avionics are the answer?

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 21, 2011 12:10 AM    Report this comment

Greg - "However, the folks fighting to force low octane fuel onto everyone put at risk the roughly $100K I have sunk into my airplane, and that trumps the cheapskates in my book."

Are you referring to 94UL, or Mogas? I am not aware of any proponent of Mogas suggesting that all others switch to it. Most favor a multiple-fuel solution including 100 octane for as long as aircraft require this or an affordable option has not allowed them to move to another fuel, for instance Mogas + the Petersen ADI. Free markets should really determine what is best for GA.

Paul: "But mogas is not the same as another aviation fuel."

Not sure what you mean by this, I know you are aware that Mogas has been an FAA-approved aviation fuel for STC holders since the 1980s, and that most new sport aviation engines are designed to operate primarily on Mogas.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 21, 2011 7:35 AM    Report this comment

Not sure what you mean by this, I know you are aware that Mogas has been an FAA-approved aviation fuel for STC holders since the 1980s, and that most new sport aviation engines are designed to operate primarily on Mogas.

I mean it's not another aviation fuel introduced into the supply chain, it's motor gas suitable for use in airplanes. I think it's a misnomer to call mogas an "aviation fuel" by dint of STC. If it were an aviation fuel, it wouldn't need the STC.

That's a flyspeck point, of course, and not particularly important, either. But it draws a relevant comparison to 94UL or 91/96, which are purpose-made aviation fuels. Mogas is not that.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 21, 2011 9:15 AM    Report this comment

I see you point and it makes sense. Mogas has a near 30-year track record as an excellent, FAA-approved fuel. There are lots of components on modern airplanes and engines these days that are not purpose-made for aviation, and thank goodness as it helps us lower costs. As far as I know, all the "new" compression-ignition (diesel) airplane engines are based on auto engines, right? Eggenfellner's new Viking engine is based on the Honda Fit, and Europeans are making increased use of the BMW R1200 motorcycle engine in homebuilts. All designed to operate best on 91+ octane mogas.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 21, 2011 9:34 AM    Report this comment

"That's a flyspeck point, of course, and not particularly important, either. But it draws a relevant comparison to 94UL or 91/96, which are purpose-made aviation fuels. Mogas is not that."

Another small point - many modern A/C engines allow use of mogas via the TC, not an STC. In fact, Rotax recommends mogas over 100LL. You can't run 100LL in the BMW R1200 due to its catalytic converter. I suspect the same for the Eggenfellner Viking, and it is definitely the case for many other auto engine conversions - no 100LL allowed.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 21, 2011 9:42 AM    Report this comment

As far as I know, all the "new" compression-ignition (diesel) airplane engines are based on auto engines, right?''<<

Well, not all. The SMA 305 is a purpose-built aviation engine. The DeltaHawk is, too. So is the Wilksch, the Gemini, the Engineered Propulsion and there's an Italian project that's also purpose built for aviation.

That leaves two--the Thielert and Austro--which are offshoots of Mercedes Benz automobile diesels. But even then, they aren't conversions--they are almost clean sheet revisions that just use the car technology as a basis.

In the fuel analogy, it would almost be like using some high octane automotive blend stock and adding something else to it to make a higher octane, purpose made aviation fuel. I don't know if it's chemically or economically feasible to do that.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 21, 2011 9:53 AM    Report this comment

"Free markets should really determine what is best for GA." Quoting the 70/30 rule, why would any FBO choose to sell a fuel that would only result in about 30% of their current flow? While I am a free marketeer through and through, aviation is perhaps the most heavily regulated activity in the country. There will be a single fuel chosen, and there will be a meltdown in GA if it isn't usable in the planes doing the most flying.

Hjelmco asks, "Who is going to fly these 100 octane Bonanzas, Barons etc in the future?" I expect it will be the same folks flying them and the Cirri and Columbias and the Lancairs. Folks flying somewhere to get somewhere, as opposed to folks flying somewhere to be flying somewhere, and who want to make those trips without an obligatory virtual strip search on the way.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 21, 2011 11:06 AM    Report this comment

Greg - FBOs already choose the fuel that makes sense for their clientele and their bottom line. 22 of them stopped selling 100LL since 12/1/2010, according to AirNav. Two recently added autogas here in central NC. Completely different airports, FBOs, type of flying, etc. That's why we need more choices, not fewer, but please no government bureaucrats dictating this. And yes it is important to keep an 100 octane fuel around for as long as possible. At the same time we should not prevent those who don't need it to find alternatives that are better for their budget and engines. We're all in this together.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 21, 2011 11:22 AM    Report this comment

Lars has a European perspective, where there is less daily use of GA for transportation than in the U.S., on a percentage basis. Lot more recreational flying in Europe.

I think that's why we are seeing so little interest in 94UL. I mean really little, because the guys flying the airplanes that require 100-octane fuel have a lot of big dogs in this fight.

Response to the survey is 80/20, with 80 percent saying they have airplanes that require 100 octane. This tells me this audience is engaged, motivated and beginning to gel on what it wants.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 21, 2011 11:28 AM    Report this comment

Greg - we have in Europe really had big changes in the demografy of pilots and also income (salaries) of the pilot population. Any data from the US about an aging pilot population? I have only been flying for 44+ years. Most of my pilot pals are older, several don,t fly anymore and I don,t see the Barons, Bonanzas et al any more. They just don,t exist....... And all the AVGAS 80 aircraft they are practically gone. How does it look in the US -- will the FAA new count of airworthiness aircraft become a big surprise ? Why I am wondering is does anyone have any idea about the health of GA in the world and US today ? Are we not speaking about an aging pilot population with aging aircraft that no-one will make TBO on their engines in the future regardless if there is 100 UL, 100 LL or whatever future will give us? Very few young people I meet fly the sofisticated Barons and Bonanzas et al. Will there be any demand for an unleaded 100 in 5-10 years? There are practially no new 100 LL aircraft coming out...... I will fly my Navajo as long as I can -- but realities will come ......

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 21, 2011 11:37 AM    Report this comment

Lars, got my cert 37 years ago, but didn't fly for nearly 20 years because I didn't have need for it. Then I did have a need to get somewhere for work with handy airports on both ends, rented C150's for awhile and then bought a PA-28-161 when I needed the flexibility ownership offered.

The young usually don't fly Bonanzas or Cirri. They also tend to rent apartments and not have a mortgage or two. They are also unlikely to buy a new light sport, which is what aging pilots with money are buying so they'll be able to go for $200 hamburgers for as long as they retain their drivers licenses.

GA is sick everywhere, but nowhere sicker than in Europe which is loaded up with fees to soak the pilot population which is apparently seen as folks with more money than sense. How much does it cost for someone (say, in England and Germany) to rent a Cherokee and spend an afternoon flying practice IFR approaches with an instructor?

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 21, 2011 12:15 PM    Report this comment

Greg - I travel to Europe several times a year and visit many airfields. Yes, renting a Cherokee is expensive, but that's not what most fly there now. What we call LSAs make up the bulk of the low-end of the GA fleet along with efficient motorgliders. Business travelers use modern planes like Cirruses and Diamonds. Tough noise rules/fines many years ago made legacy planes there unattractive, accelerating the shift to newer planes long before leaded fuel became an issue. While user fees are pricey for using ATC facilities, many aircraft there are owned by clubs and operate from the club's private airfields with low or no user fees. The few who do need to fly IFR come to the US to learn to fly where weather is better and training is cheaper. GA is far from dead in Europe, evidenced by the fact that we've been flooded by dozens of modern LSAs from there. They would not be here if a good market for them did not exist in Europe. I know that most will knee jerk at this statement, but perhaps we should look closer at how the user fee system works before dismissing it altogether. Visit the huge AERO Friedrichshafen GA show in Germany in April, and you will see that GA is doing pretty darned well in Europe.HČ

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 21, 2011 12:38 PM    Report this comment

I'm sorry, but country club members flying hobby airplanes isn't what I want for the US, and I don't think many US pilots want it, either.

How special that european pilots are squeezed out to the US for training. Where would American pilots go if we follow the european model that some here seem to think to be our future? Just out for fair weather flying in and out of our private strips, assuming we could buy in to one that is handy?

We need 100 octane solutions. While 115/145UL probably could not be made without TEL, there are multiple candidate 100UL fuels and indications are that they will be priced not much above 100LL, and a 100VLL fuel is the low hanging fruit that can be a bridge to unleaded to buy us time from the EPA, which, if the new budget is any indication, may not be funded for lots of new interventions by the new Republican congress and amenable to an easy interim solution.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 21, 2011 1:14 PM    Report this comment

Lars,

Google for GAMA.aero and download their Statistical Databook for 2009. You'll find more data than you will want, but is does have pilot ages. Also forecasts out to 2025.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 21, 2011 3:47 PM    Report this comment

Greg -- a fantastic source of information -- thank you. We lack this information in Europe.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 21, 2011 4:08 PM    Report this comment

On a long 100mi bicycle ride Saturday, I had a lot of time to think. The idea that fuel is "market driven" is pure bunk. Fuel is LEGISLATIVELY driven. If the FAA demands non-ethanol Mogas, we get non-ethanol MoGas. The FAA has darn sure demanded (and succeed) in foisting leaded 100 octane on both the refiners and all users.

If the FAA can legislate refiners to jump through the hurdles to make leaded 100 octane, then it's a piece of cake to legislate not blending in lead or ethanol.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 22, 2011 9:33 AM    Report this comment

Greg - GA is made up of all kinds of pilots and businesses. We need them all to be healthy to survive. Look at who pays most of the hangar rent at any given GA airport - its the guys who fly 50 hours a year, yet their impact on the airport and airways is trivial compared to those who fly for business. Ask any maintenance shop what there bread and butter business is - it's the guy who flies 50 hours a year and drops his plane off every year for an annual. Lose hangar rent and maintenance shops and most small GA airports die, seen it all across NC where I live. No one who promotes abundant, affordable autogas is suggesting that those who need an 100 octane fuel should not have it. But these folks ought to see an increased use of autogas as evidence to the EPA and FOE that aviation is moving away from leaded fuels. This is far easier and cheaper than developing yet another boutique fuel like 100VLL.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 22, 2011 9:47 AM    Report this comment

Mark - well put. Who knows where we'd be with aviation fuel today if the government would stop "helping" us.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 22, 2011 9:49 AM    Report this comment

Regulations drive GA (and GA fuel). Thinking that people are "demanding 100LL" and manufactures are "demanding 100LL" as the reason we have 100LL is illogical. FAA set the spec and EVERYONE had to follow. If you wanted something else you were faced with a lengthy and expensive STC process for BOTH the engine and airframe.

If the FAA simply approves non-alcohol MoGas and then streamlined(removed) the barriers to it's use then THE MARKET WILL DEVELOP and use it. LSA's are a prime example of regulations CREATING a market.

Give GA a long term approved cheaper gas. Just watch the market develop!

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 22, 2011 10:25 AM    Report this comment

Regulations drive GA (and GA fuel). Thinking that people are "demanding 100LL" and manufactures are "demanding 100LL" as the reason we have 100LL is illogical. FAA set the spec and EVERYONE had to follow. If you wanted something else you were faced with a lengthy and expensive STC process for BOTH the engine and airframe<<

That's the bunk part, Mark and shows your lack of historical knowledge. Thirty years ago, we had two grades of fuel. Actually, we had three: 80/87, 100LL and 1001/130. (If you live in Hawaii, you still have 100/130, but that's a different thread.)

Why did we lose the lower and higher octanes? The FAA had nothing to do with it. The market did. Overall demand fell off for all fuel, the refiners no longer wanted to deliver three grades and 100LL was the compromise. FAA merely approved the TC's to burn it; it didn't invent the stuff.

In your world, the FAA could have merely said to the refiners..80/87 is the regulatorily approved fuel and you have to deliver it. And if you really believe that, there's some property in the 'glades you oughta be looking at.

Fast forward to the present day, do you think the FAA is going to mandate, say, 94UL as the replacement fuel and refuse to approve others? If that happened, that great sucking sound you hear is the supply chain drying up and half of the legacy market going to the scrap heap.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 22, 2011 12:20 PM    Report this comment

What the 100-octane people understand that you are missing is that if they don't make their voices heard, they know their expensive investments will be so much junk metal. Most of them also don't want to invest in engine upgrades to burn less than 100 octane. They also get that the reality is that however inefficient the process, the FAA usually responds to market conditions and demand, as expressed directly by users or through the political process.

So what will likely happen here is this: ASTM will slowly but surely approve a number of candidate fuels. Just as it still has an 80/87 spec, a 100/130, an ETBE aviation blend spec, a 94UL spec...it will also 100 octane. Then the people who make this stuff and the people who buy it will decide what flies. Not the FAA.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 22, 2011 12:29 PM    Report this comment

I think you said you were in the old industry, then you should know your ethanol argument is misplaced. Ethanol is a political distortion over which it is doubtful the FAA has much influence. The EPA could, at the stroke of a pen, reduce the mandates. To guess whether that's realistic, you'd have to get inside the head of Lisa Jackson and understand the political pull of the Corn State Caucus. Lot of electoral votes in those states. Lot of dealmaking horsepower to keep the mandates alive. If the states standardized exceptions and waivers, maybe it would help.

Either way, many of the states have ethanol waivers, as we do here in Florida, for ag, aviation and marine. The reason supplies are iffy is because it isn't a big market and the refiners don't appear to be growing it much. If ethanol went away entirely--good luck with that one--it would be different. But it isn't.

It's simplistic to say regulations create the demand. It's more of a symbiotic process because the FAA cannot regulate what the market will or will not buy.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 22, 2011 12:45 PM    Report this comment

The FAA may have no power over the EPA but that doesn't mean they don't have any influence. I'm of the opinion that the FAA should have at least picked up the phone and explained STC's and mogas to the EPA so that the impact of ethanol mandates on the industry would have been considered, however briefly.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 22, 2011 1:01 PM    Report this comment

Sorry Todd, but I think it's clear the ethanol mandates were put in place to make sure all that subsidized corn and corn ethanol could be put someplace to be disposed of, and to keep the money flowing through the to farmers and ADM to prime the pump for the next presidential primary season, which starts in corn country. There is always a next presidential primary season, and we'll have ethanol contaminating our fuel until there's more political points to be won by standing up to the corn ethanol lobby than in pandering to them.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 22, 2011 4:02 PM    Report this comment

Above should say oil industry, not old.

Todd, I agree that the FAA administrator can at least engage EPA, making the here's-one-way-to-reduce lead argument. I have no visibility of the politics on that, but my gut feel is that it would be above Babbitt's pay grade. There could be other factors we don't know about. Still, it doesn't hurt to ask.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 22, 2011 4:19 PM    Report this comment

I just got some data from EIA that suggests about 12 percent of the finished gasoline market is non-ethanol. That seems much higher than I thought. If it's right, where the hell is all of it going? Why can't it be more easily found? I think it's just a regional, spotty market.

In any case, demand for it is trending slowly downward, as with avgas.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 22, 2011 4:22 PM    Report this comment

Premium fuel accounts for about 12% of the total gasoline supply.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 22, 2011 4:30 PM    Report this comment

Interesting numbers, Paul, but E0 fuel isn't decreasing because of lessening market pull, it's due to government pushing. If the market distortions stopped, E0 market share would bounce towards 100%.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 22, 2011 4:59 PM    Report this comment

Premium E0 might be our only option if the mid East unrest continues. I heard today that Libya falling will push oil to $96 / barrel (it has). Venezuela or Iran would push oil to $140 / barrel. If Saudi Arabia falls, $200 / barrel. This equals mogas costing $4.50, $6.00 or $8.00 at the pump, respectively. These numbers may be a little off since I'm writing from memory but you get the picture. If mogas costs $8.00 / gal, what will avgas cost? Avgas at $10.00 / gal will significantly reduce demand. Reduced demand will lessening the need to refine avgas.

Posted by: Dana Nickerson | February 22, 2011 6:38 PM    Report this comment

Interesting numbers, Paul, but E0 fuel isn't decreasing because of lessening market pull, it's due to government pushing. <<

That's only part of the picture, Greg. Here in Florida and in a lot of states, E0 is available, but spottily. Why? Because the refiners aren't making a lot of it consistently because demand for it is equally limited.

Most vehicles that need premium can burn E10 premium. All of my high performance motorcycles, for instance. Those that can't or don't want to use E10 constitute a real, but small market. In Florida, it's the ag industry and marine. Here in town, the last service station that had E0 premium stopped carrying it. I have no incentive to seek out E0 regardless of price and many others are in the same situation.

Under state law, stations can still sell it. The local jobber can deliver it semi-reliably. Not enough people buying it to make it worth having. Two (maybe more) of the local marinas carry E0.

It's actually getting squeezed in two directions. From the top by mandated ethanol looking for a home and from the bottom by too few people needing it enough to seek it out. Even if the mandates were removed, that wouldn't change much. In the current fuel markets, octane is not in high demand. Cheap price is.

The Pure Gas site seems to give the impression that volume is growing, but I think that is misleading. Most refineries are backed way off on their reformers because octane demand isn't there.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 22, 2011 9:15 PM    Report this comment

Paul, you said "Thirty years ago, we had two grades of fuel. Actually, we had three: 80/87, 100LL and 1001/130" I flew 30 years ago, even 40 years ago and we had 80/87, 91/96 on most GA fields and 100/130 on many fields and 115/145 on the major air carrier airports and military fields for the like of the R-3350s and R-4360s. When the 3350s and 4360s disappeared in the jet age, 115/145 wasn't needed. and 100LL is 100/130 with the same amount of REL as 91/96, so they both disappeared. For some reason the FAA thought users of 80/87 could run just fine on 100LL with four times as much lead as 80/87, but that didn't work so well, hence the mogas STCs.

Posted by: Dean Billing | February 23, 2011 12:09 AM    Report this comment

Sorry, "REL" should be "TEL" in the previous comment.

Posted by: Dean Billing | February 23, 2011 12:10 AM    Report this comment

Paul said "That's only part of the picture, Greg. Here in Florida and in a lot of states, E0 is available, but spottily. Why? Because the refiners aren't making a lot of it consistently because demand for it is equally limited." There is probably no way to say this tactfully, but none of you know what you are talking about when it comes to why ethanol is showing up in all of the gasoline. It has nothing to do with limited demand. It is entirely because of the unintended consequences of the federal RFS mandate in EISA 2007. In Florida and four other states it is worse because they all have mandatory E10 laws, with exceptions for marine, aviation and small engine use. Won't make any difference though because EISA 2007 has hard coded ethanol quotas that increase every year until 2022 and by next year the quota is so big it will swamp the entire gasoline pool and all mogas will be E10 unless the EPA, which has complete control over ethanol blending under EISA 2007, prohibits the blending of ethanol in all premium mogas. EISA 2007 is not a mandatory E10 law.

Posted by: Dean Billing | February 23, 2011 12:26 AM    Report this comment

So Paul, it has nothing to do with what refiners want to do, especially in the state of Florida which requires E10 for all cars on the road, except antiques and classics. Unfortunately when a whole state or large geographic area goes E10, the refiners change the way they make gasoline. They don't make it any more. They make suboctane Blendstock for Oxygenated Blending (BOB). When that happens premium unleaded gasoline as we know it disappears because the highest octane BOB is 90 AKI and in most cases has other properties that makes it unsalable as legal gasoline. There is no statute in either the federal RFS mandate, nor any of the state mandatory E10 laws that require refineries to make E0. If you want to understand the RFS mandate see http://www.e0pc.com It was supposed to be a corporate welfare law for E85, but it has run amok.

Posted by: Dean Billing | February 23, 2011 12:31 AM    Report this comment

Paul said "I just got some data from EIA that suggests about 12 percent of the finished gasoline market is non-ethanol. That seems much higher than I thought. If it's right, where the hell is all of it going?" You missed a couple of statistics in the EIA data and you need to know about the table in Section 202 (a) 2 of EISA 2007 which sets the ethanol quota each year until 2022. To see a summary of what is happening see my blog: http://stopethanol.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/e15-will-make-no-difference-now-part-ii/ If you would have dug into the EIA data a little deeper you would have noticed that RFG gasoline makes up about 50% of the gasoline pool in the U.S. RFG is the ultra clean gasoline used in CA and the major urban areas where most of the cars are. 99% of the RFG is already E10. What is left is 70 something % E10 and combined all of the gasoline in the US is 85+% E10. If you look at the table in EISA 2007, by the end of this year about 93+% of all of the gasoline will be E10 and by sometime next year the ethanol quota will completely swamp the gasoline pool and keep increasing. I have no idea where they are going to put that ethanol, but I know E15 will not save the ethanol lobby. BTW, all of California is E10 now and so is most of the NE and the NW is fast on their heels.

Posted by: Dean Billing | February 23, 2011 12:45 AM    Report this comment

Paul, quit being single minded on a single solution. LSA's ONLY EXISTS because the FAA relaxed the medical requirement, not because they are great aircraft. And entire market grew up because of relaxing regulations.

If the FAA relaxed the need for STC regulations on non-ethanol MoGas, Then there would be a cheaper alternative (like LSA's) that would open up. If you open up a choice between cheap/effective and an expensive 100LL replacement, guess where a lot of people will flock?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 23, 2011 7:25 AM    Report this comment

"What the 100-octane people understand ...their expensive investments will be so much junk metal"

FEAR. You said it. You FEAR even an effort at promoting a cheaper fuel for GA. You fear that if MoGas receives an FAA blessing on the GA fleet that 100LL(and a replacement) will have a huge competition. Cheaper MoGas will pressure 100x fuels and they will be less and used. A very small fuel market gets even smaller. A more expensive 100LL replacement becomes even less attractive.

Be honest that you're against less expensive MoGas because you're concerned about only very high-end piston GA having to pay extra for THEIR investment. The trainers and the heart of GA in your world need to pay too much forever to support the 100 octane crowd. What about the heart of GA and OUR investment sitting unused on ramps?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 23, 2011 7:41 AM    Report this comment

Paul - "In the current fuel markets, octane is not in high demand. Cheap price is."

The irony is, bad harvests the past year has driven ethanol prices up and it is now more expensive than gasoline. Gas stations lose even more on E10 now, but fuel is often a loss-leader at gas stations where $3 coffee makes the profits.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 23, 2011 7:42 AM    Report this comment

Paul - "The Pure Gas site seems to give the impression that volume is growing, but I think that is misleading. Most refineries are backed way off on their reformers because octane demand isn't there."

Pure-Gas.org is 100% user maintained - it is only as accurate as users make it. It should be clear to everyone that the steady rise in the number of its listings is a reflection of people taking the time to log them, or remove them, not that more E0 is being sold. But it does reflect the growing interest in ethanol-free fuel, counter to your arguments. In one sense though it is misleading - you can find E0 all over the Midwest (NE, IA, MN, WI) yet relatively few stations have been logged. Why should they bother, when it's available everywhere? Ironically, these are the states with the largest corn and ethanol industry - consumer rejection of ethanol there speaks volumes, doesn't it?

Dean is dead-on: It's hard for someone to offer E0 in Florida since the past state government passed an E10 law that forbids a gas station to sell otherwise. While in Sebring, I asked one gas station where I can buy E0. He whispered directions down a few dirt roads to some fellow who would sell it to me by the jug. What the heck sort of country have we become that ethanol-free fuel is treated like moonshine?

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 23, 2011 7:50 AM    Report this comment

Paul said " That's the bunk part..and shows your lack of historical knowledge...Why did we lose the lower and higher octanes? The FAA had nothing to do with it. The market did."

Sorry Paul, I got my certificate 40 YEARS AGO. 100 was not called 100 low lead back then. The reason leaded 100 survived was because no one cared about lead and 100 was cheap.

That same market exists today. Cheap and plentiful is what makes GA fly. Any support for either expensive or exotic fuels is not good for GA. Same as it ever was.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 23, 2011 8:34 AM    Report this comment

Dean is dead-on: It's hard for someone to offer E0 in Florida since the past state government passed an E10 law that forbids a gas station to sell otherwise.

No, Dean is not quite right on this. You're telling me one thing, the state law says otherwise. I just doublechecked my information with state ag fuel inspection department. Here is the Florida statute, effective December 21, 2010:

"All gasoline sold or offered for sale in Florida by a terminal supplier, importer, blender or wholesaler shall be blended gasoline." (Blended means no more than 10 percent ethanol.)

EXEMPTIONS: The requirements of this act do not apply to the following: (a) Fuel used in aircraft (b) Fuel sold for use in boats and similar watercraft. (c) Fuel sold to a blender (d) Fuel sold for use in collector vehicles or vehicles eligible to be licenses as collector vehicles, off-road vehicles, motorcycles or small engines."

Furthermore, Florida exempts E15, with E10 as the max.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 23, 2011 8:41 AM    Report this comment

I should have been more precise, Paul, sorry. The fact that the vast majority of fuel sold in Florida must now be E10 means that fuel suppliers switch to BOB coming out of pipelines or in tank farms. Ethanol is added to it to make finished gas. BOB however is not a legal fuel. Once all your fuel goes to BOB, there is no legal, ethanol-free fuel available, with or without exemptions. That's what is happening now in FL as has happened all across the country. Ironically, as the EPA starts pushing E15, it runs smack into laws like Floida's that have E10 hard-coded in them. Increasing this to E15 may take 1-2 years to get through legislatures. There aren't any approved E15 tanks or pumps at stations now anyway, so it will take a while before we see E15 (legally) sold. Then the EPA will approve E20, E30, etc. Fuel pumps for these higher grades are already available from OPW and others but all costs for retrofits will be passed on to consumers. With blends legally and technically capped now at E10, the whole fuel supply will be flooded with ethanol sooner rather than later with E15, a result of the RFS production mandates. Thus the blending wall will be hit soon, requiring Congress to take action, or just ignore the law. It is a train wreck in progress.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 23, 2011 8:50 AM    Report this comment

Bottom line: any gas station in Florida can sell E0 if it wants. All it needs is a bill of lading from the supplier stating the above and it can sell the gas. Marinas are doing it all over.

DoA stats show that E0 almost disappeared in Florida but it is actually coming back. This seems to be because supplies got hard to find due to an over reaction to the EISA mandates--government meddling in free market forces.

But the fact that the volume is coming back a little suggests that the market has adjusted and is finding at least some demand. I suppose you could say the mandates amount to the government saying...thou shalt not make E0, even though the exemptions are clearly there. Maybe it's a chicken-egg thing.

My original point is that there's a lot of E0 out there. More than enough to serve aviation interests. So why is the perception that it's hard to get. Dunno. Would like to know.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 23, 2011 8:50 AM    Report this comment

It is a train wreck in progress.<<

That we can agree on.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 23, 2011 8:52 AM    Report this comment

Be honest that you're against less expensive MoGas because you're concerned about only very high-end piston GA having to pay extra for THEIR investment.<<

This makes me laugh! In the survey, there are a bunch of comments about all the mogas questions and why are you pushing mogas. Then you come along and say the survey was written to achieve a desired result favoring high octane. I guess that means we got it about right.

I'm not against mogas, Mark. What am I against is groups with an axe to grind and special interests blowing sunshine up my ass without supporting data based in reality, political, physical, chemical, economic and otherwise. When you, for example, insist that the cost of tankage doesn't matter and every FBO I talk to says otherwise, pardon me for a bit of disconnect.

I'm letting the story take me where it will. I think there's a place for mogas in aviation. But you are unrealistic if you think doing this does not face substantial barriers. People like me need to point those out so readers will at least be informed.

Make sense?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 23, 2011 9:01 AM    Report this comment

Paul - "My original point is that there's a lot of E0 out there. More than enough to serve aviation interests. So why is the perception that it's hard to get. Dunno. Would like to know."

There is, and there isn't. The supply is really in flux, which gives people considering investing in a tank cold feet. Much resistance from FBOs is based on previous attempts to sell E0 10-20 years ago that did not succeed, but times have changed in many ways. The cost of tanks too has changed, yet most FBOs' last experience was installing large Avgas/Jet-A tanks that can easily cost upwards of $150,000. At U-Fuel we're working to lower these costs significantly, but new ideas take awhile to sink in. I think that some frustration by respondents is the fact that so much effort/media attention is focused on finding an unleaded 100 octane fuel - and this is important - with the insinuation from many that all who do not need/want it must nevertheless buy 100LL/100UL to prop up a declining market. The AOPA, GAMA, NATA and EAA have said as much - there will only be one fuel for piston-engine airplanes. The reality is though, with every $1 increase in 100LL, we lose hundreds, maybe thousands of pilots and airplanes.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 23, 2011 9:20 AM    Report this comment

Continued from above - Cheaper fuel would stem this bleeding, and the only reasonable option is autogas, a fuel that give aviation the rare chance to capitalize on huge volume production. Working to keep ethanol out of Premium also gives us a rare chance to join forces with other sporting communities (boats, classic cars, etc), with the potential to gain a few new pilots. Even the FOE supports autogas as a means to reduce 100LL consumption. We'd simply like to see as much concern among the alphabets, FAA and EAA towards the ethanol problem in autogas as they place on lead in avgas. Pretty simple really. Paul, AVWeb and GAN are the only aviation media that are reporting on autogas as a serious option, many thanks.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 23, 2011 9:21 AM    Report this comment

Should have read "alphabets, FAA and EPA"

The EAA has reported somewhat on autogas and ethanol, this is appreciated.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 23, 2011 9:28 AM    Report this comment

Why not equally push a cheaper and long term fuel solution for a huge bulk of the GA fleet? Leaded gas is going away. The biggest barriers to non-ethanol MoGas are "political barriers". This is WHY Aviation groups need to step up to bat and not just (once again) sit on the sidelines and see what happens.

Sorry if 100 octane people feel that it's risks THEIR investment when alternatives are equally supported. The same can be said of politicians pushing Ethanol for their benefit at their "political investment".

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 23, 2011 9:59 AM    Report this comment

Paul - what happened with the ~ 30 % aromatic US AVGAS -- must have been weight % I guess and not volume % as was my reference? ---------- Kent If the US today just did not think about ethanol in gasoline but instead as ethanol ether (ETBE) in gasoline your problems were solved. see also FAA approval of ETBE http://www.hjelmco.com/upl/files/3498.pdf and the ETBE letter from the FAA to the EPA. http://www.hjelmco.com/upl/files/9256.pdf ETBE is made of ethanol and is supported by Cessna in a 400 pages technical research report, has high octane, does not attract water and is fully evaluated. It is produced in the US in very large volumes -- but then shipped abroad to other countries that don,t like ethanol in car gasoline - such as Japan. What if the oil-industry in the US are wrong about ETBE and the rest of the world are right -- ( ETBE is widely used in the EU --) the US would have missed an opportunity. Because ETBE is fairly cheap to produce.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 23, 2011 11:18 AM    Report this comment

"Sorry if 100 octane people feel that it's risks THEIR investment when alternatives are equally supported."

This is disingenuous, Mark, and I suspect you know it. The issue is what do we get in place of 100LL when TEL goes away. I'm perfectly happy to have a secondary fuel (as is everyone else who needs 100 octane) as long as a 100UL is the primary goal.

If we can get the government off it's corn ethanol addiction and have plentiful E0, mogas cooperatives could easily transport E0 from service stations to whatever airfield they wanted mogas. *If* the high performance fleet dies off as you think they will, FBOs will eventually change over to something else, and a 94UL might eventually be a winner. But for now, it *will* be a fuel usable in the current high performance fleet.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 23, 2011 12:26 PM    Report this comment

I'll send you the data. But I have to de-identify the source and strip of it ident.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 23, 2011 12:27 PM    Report this comment

I'll send you the data. But I have to de-identify the source and strip of it ident.

What if the oil-industry in the US are wrong about ETBE and the rest of the world are right.<<

U.S. is wrong about a lot of the things and right about a lot of things. Nothing new there. If the oil companies got interested in the ethers again, perhaps that would help. Far as I know, the EPA has no restrictions on it.

Perhaps it should come up at the ARC meeting.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 23, 2011 12:35 PM    Report this comment

"This is disingenuous, Mark, and I suspect you know it. The issue is what do we get in place of 100LL when TEL goes away."

Actually Greg, it's sarcasm; the issues has been looming since the late 70's. If they invested in a 100 octane only system under these known circumstances then they signed up willingly for an indefinite future. loosing TEl is (and always has been) their issue.

I'm outraged that all of GA has to suffer because of the sucker bet of 100LL. Now is the time to bring GA out of expensive/exclusive fuel into the modern world of multi-octane fuel experienced at any gas station world wide.

If not now, WHEN?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 23, 2011 1:32 PM    Report this comment

The industry knows TEL was going away. If the industry is still building planes that require it, then I have to agree that the industry is messed up. The industry is hanging by a thread (one source of TEL) and one storm, one eco-terrorist, one labor strike can shut that down TEL tomorrow.

If an Aviation industry is so single-minded wrong, maybe it does deserves a "Katrina" moment?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 23, 2011 1:54 PM    Report this comment

Lars - I really don't have the knowledge to comment on ETBE's lack of use in the U.S. I know of the issues with MTBE but can not imagine that alone would have led to ethanol's use as an oxygenate instead of ETBE. Can you explain why Europe is now also starting to require ethanol (made from sugar beets?) in fuel, given all its disadvantages and your successful use of ETBE? I hear from family in Germany that consumers there are not all too happy with ethanol getting into their fuels. In general they understand the effects on vehicles better than here, and it sounds like ethanol there so far is a consumer belly-flop.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 23, 2011 1:58 PM    Report this comment

"...I hear from family in Germany that consumers there are not all too happy with ethanol getting into their fuels...."

With 85% of Libyan going to EU countries, I'll wager the politicos there will also be saying 'reduce our dependence on foreign oil'. That was the original impetus for ethanol here in the U.S. And it probably worked here to some extent.

Mark, are you of the opinion that it would be a good idea to destroy the GA industry and re-build from there?

Posted by: Edd Weninger | February 23, 2011 2:22 PM    Report this comment

GA is not monolithic. There is a portion of GA that for 20 years has been just one mishap away from catastrophe. I'm saying that after 20+ years of warnings that I don't have much sympathy for piggies that are still making and buying houses out of straw.

The moral of the fable is that insensible people will always be unprepared until disaster finally happens.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 23, 2011 2:55 PM    Report this comment

"Actually Greg, it's sarcasm"

The quote was "Sorry if 100 octane people feel that it's risks THEIR investment when alternatives are equally supported."

No, it wasn't sarcasm. It was a complete misrepresentation of the facts at hand. Investments in low compression aircraft are not at risk if 100UL is adopted, but investments in high compression and *efficient* aircraft will be shattered if you get your way.

Sarcasm really isn't warranted here. I'd suggest more civility is in order.

Industry and government did what they do when faced with a future change without any economic drivers... study the problem to death and not actually push for solutions. It took Swift and GAMI to put lie to the groupthink claims that made some jump on the 94UL bandwagon last summer. With the 100 octane users mobilized and private solutions at hand, that bandwagon is now unhitched and without a driver.

At the moment (all together now) about 70% of the fuel is sold to people with engines like mine. If, sometime in the future, that dips below some magic number that pushes FBOs to want to sell a lower octane and less expensive fuel, the industry will adapt. For now, those FBOs are not clamoring to cut off their best customers.

I suggest to you that your 'screw the folks with high compression engines' tack is not going to win you many friends or persuade your opponents.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 23, 2011 3:02 PM    Report this comment

No Greg, I'm saying that it's uncivil to (once again) bully GA in a monolithic "solution" based on one facet of GA. Solving YOUR long standing problem at OUR expense is uncivil. Why fear a dual fueled future that benefits others?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 23, 2011 3:13 PM    Report this comment

Lycoming updated their service instruction 1070 last summer to rev Q which adds a whole lot of O-360 and IO-360s as autogas approved.

Those engine are used in roughly 20,000 aircraft according to the registration database. Std category, not counting experimentals

It's engine only so you'd still need an airframe approval. Still, good news for a lot of people. Some of these were previously covered by Peterson STCs and some not.

Posted by: B Noel | February 23, 2011 3:21 PM    Report this comment

Airframe approval is not easy to get, tougher in fact than an engine STC. Lycoming's approvals are all well and good for experimentals, but without airframe STC's to go with them certificate airplanes are left in the lurch.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | February 23, 2011 4:04 PM    Report this comment

Kent - Yes ethanol is also finding its way into car gasoline here but then on the low octane grade. Here a map of ETBE production capacity in Europe: http://www.hjelmco.com/upl/files/37638.pdf We are also getting a requirement of min 10 % ethanol in car gasoline in Europe. As ETBE only has around 40 % ethanol you need to doubble the ETBE content to satisfy the 10 % ethanol requirement and then you end up on with the most potent car gasoline (high octane grades) only and are giving away octane numbers. Thanks for pointing out -- I did not see that connection before.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 23, 2011 4:09 PM    Report this comment

Again with the misrepresentations. I don't "fear" dual fuel. I am livid against a single solution that eliminates 100 octane availability.

Turning the rhetorical tables, you've been 'suffering' from 100LL for 20 years and apparently done nothing, now you want me, when there's a need for a new unleaded fuel, to suffer from your lack of action in the past? Nationwide, avgas is 100 octane, and most of the avgas being used is being used in planes like mine, planes that *need* 100 octane. Please, what positive things have you done to move to a dual fuel in the past?

To be fair to you, sort of, the reason of that a low octane 2nd fuel was never seriously considered because it wasn't economically viable, and that's still the case, at least without shrinking GA past its breaking point.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 23, 2011 4:48 PM    Report this comment

No, Greg, the FAA/AOPA has failed us both over 20 years. They failed in getting a viable solution for the demise of 100LL and they failed the rest of us by not promoting acceptable(and cheaper) fuels. I've pushed MoGas locally, I've purchased Petersen STC's, I've written letters to State Representatives. That's all I can do; it's more that the FAA/AOPA has done for me.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 23, 2011 5:58 PM    Report this comment

Lars - what is the argument in Europe in favor of ethanol? Is no one reporting on the direct link between ethanol production in the US, rising grain prices, food riots in Tunisia, and now the deaths of hundreds of people there? Is no one reporting on the dramatic rise in the cost of food in the U.S. as a result? Is no one reporting on the lower economy and various other problems ethanol will cause when used in vehicles? I am hearing reports (I listen daily to German news via the Internet) that consumers are not happy about ethanol in their fuel. What are you hearing in Sweden?

Posted by: Kent Misegades | February 23, 2011 6:31 PM    Report this comment

"That's all I can do; it's more that the FAA/AOPA has done for me." Precisely correct Mark! And you can EAA and GAMA to the list that have done nothing. Finally the only thing you can do is vote with your feet. I quit paying for AOPA to not represent me, and EAA is next.

Posted by: Dean Billing | February 23, 2011 7:04 PM    Report this comment

Dean, I don't fault the EAA; the EAA has never taken money under the auspices of "representing all of GA". The EAA instead has done quite a lot to get GA cheaper, more efficient, and a more flexible alternative for owners. They also support cheaper fuels. Kudos to EAA.

Wow, could you imagine GA if they let the EAA actually have a voice at the decision level? Cool!

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 23, 2011 7:40 PM    Report this comment

The AOPA is a private business not unlike the AARP. They sell memberships/magazine subscriptions and have a number of sidelines that provide revenue. They purport to operate on behalf of members, but there is no real feedback from members to the organization, which operates without ever taking a vote of the membership.

The only vote you have is to quit, and I'm proud to have done so over their lack of leadership on future fuels and their failure to lobby gps navigator manufacturers to support the low cost public NACO digital database after their prodding caused NACO to develop it.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | February 23, 2011 8:41 PM    Report this comment

Kent - 10 % ethanol is coming into the stream later this year, in Sweden as from 1 April 2011. I don,t hear so much about it in my part of the EU because we already have unleaded AVGAS since 1981 !. ------------- Greg - I developed the unleaded grade 80 in 1979 (out of the ASTM D910 at that time which then approved such a fuel), then in 1991 developed the unleaded grade 91/96 and later the unleaded grade 91/98. I started from nothing -- now am producing unleaded AVGAS 91/96, 91/98, 100 LL, 100 VLL, 108/135 and 115/45, operate in some 130 airports with unleaded and leaded AVGAS. My oil company is very healthy, owns the fuel farms at most of these airports -- so saying that " a low octane 2nd fuel was never seriously considered because it wasn't economically viable" is just because no-one in the US had the entrepreneurship to do the job. It is a sucess in this part of the world now for 30 years and as said I started from zero with 8000 dollars, now our unleaded AVGAS carry approvals from piston aircraft engine manufacturers for more than 90 % of the entire world piston aircraft fleet. If anyone in the US wanted to do it they could have done it -- and of course they could start doing it in the US today. The train has not yet left the station and with enthusiastic customers to be such as Kent you just have to find that person. Sure there are very good business to make with a dual AVGAS system in the US.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 24, 2011 1:11 AM    Report this comment

Lars, Can I sponsor you to move to America?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 24, 2011 8:19 AM    Report this comment

Yeah but...Lars. Why ethanol in Europe in the first place? Here we grow billions of acres of corn and have a distorted political system that foisted it upon buyers under the guise of energy independence. Everyone knows this, even the RFA and the congress people who support this scam.

Seems like crop land is more scarce throughout Europe and much higher per capita density. If ethanol makes no sense here, it makes even less in Europe.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 24, 2011 8:24 AM    Report this comment

Paul -- we don,t grow it here -- we mainly get it from Brazil and sugercane. Also the etanol we use in Europe for gasoline is surplus Chateau, Beaujolais, Bourgogne, Rioja et al i.e. wine no-one wants to drink or producers don,t want to get out on the market in order to keep prices high.

Mark - if I was younger -- I would love to start my business again and in the US. With the US potential and all your aircraft and in a general GA-friendly environment. I started my busines with Exxon, BP, Shell as my competitors and they had 100 % of the AVGAS market. Now we think we are selling more AVGAS than they do together in Sweden.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 24, 2011 8:53 AM    Report this comment

Lars, Too bad. There are a bazillion primary aircraft in the USA. If we could get you're production knowledge together with Kent's delivery system...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 24, 2011 9:15 AM    Report this comment

There has to be a disconnect here. http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=12439. The FAA predicts GA activity will increase an average of 1 percent a year to 32.9 million operations in 2031. At the same time they recognize the EPA wants to get rid of the GA fuel source.

Posted by: Dana Nickerson | February 25, 2011 9:32 PM    Report this comment

No one is making GA cheaper so I seriously doubt their forecast numbers. The number of new production planes is almost nothing. Fuel is high and going higher.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 28, 2011 7:55 AM    Report this comment

I read it as piston powered operations in reality will decline -- because the US population is growing and with the same % of pilots in the new larger population GA should grow more. Jet operations will grow.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 28, 2011 11:25 AM    Report this comment

And the number of GA type airports is shrinking. I still don't see why the FAA is showing such "optimism" for the growth in GA.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | March 2, 2011 11:18 AM    Report this comment

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