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FAA's Fuel ARC: Progress or Not?

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Shortly after we reported on the FAA's unleaded fuel transition group's progress last week, I got a couple of e-mails asking exactly what it all means, including one inquiring about what to do about overhauls.

That last question is easy. If you need an overhaul, buy an overhaul. Nothing the UAT-ARC has done so far or will do for the foreseeable future will much impact the short-term availability of 100LL. The risk of its imminent extinction, while not zero, is not high enough to make any long-range decisions that assume it won't be available in wide distribution in the U.S. That includes buying a new airplane that requires 100-octane fuel. I can understand that a buyer about to drop $700,000 on a new Cirrus would have misgivings about future fuel, but confidence comes from between the ears. You have to manufacture it for yourself based on what information you gather yourself and how credible you deem it to be.

What I found most curious about the ARC's recommendations was the timeline: 11 years. The best explanation I could get for this was that the committee concluded that that's enough time for all potential developers to come forward with new fuel candidates and there's no realistic threat to 100LL before then. This led me to ask this question: Does the FAA know, by background assurance, that the EPA is not going to move against lead emissions in a timeframe that will matter? For obvious political reasons, neither agency could say as much publically. The best response I got to this was…interesting question. But no answer. So take the 11-year schedule however you like.

Meanwhile, what about the fast trackers—Swift Fuel and GAMI? Isn't a decade-long approval process going to kill them? Not necessarily, if, as I understand to be the case, the fuel approval process won't be telescoped to last 11 years but can move as fast as these companies can jump through the testing hoops. Conceivably then, Swift or GAMI could be certified and ready for market in under five years. But with 100LL still out there—which it is almost certain to be—wouldn't they be all dressed up with no place to go?

Again, not necessarily. Swift always pitched its product as not just a 100LL replacement, but an alternative. It's moving full speed ahead to build a large-volume pilot plant this summer in Indiana and remains convinced it can compete with 100LL at the same or even a lower price. It's also putting in place distribution agreements to get the fuel to market. If that pans out—and predicting whether it will or it won't is like reading chicken entrails—you could see Swift fuel on at least some airports around the 2017 time frame. Perhaps before that. We'll see what develops this summer. Swift is fully aware that we're reaching a tipping point.

Meanwhile, the nature of the risk to 100LL remains murky. The EPA continues its quest towards a finding of endangerment for TEL—or not—and if anyone can predict the outcome of this, we haven't heard them speak for the record. The Center for Environmental Health lawsuit in California appears to be little more than a means of squeezing money out the state's beleaguered fuel distributors, in my view, and we don't know if a settlement could preclude sales of avgas in California. If it did, that would be a huge problem, but also an opportunity for a Swift or a GAMI to step up with a replacement. We don't even know if this case will go to settlement. More murk. There's always some chance that 100LL's fate could spin out of control because of some court action, but the risk of that seems vanishingly low. But your guess is as good as mine.

Those familiar with the ARC's soon-to-be-made-public report and who are also familiar with the committee's work express satisfaction and confidence that it represents progress. The FAA has finally exerted some leadership on the issue, the parties involved—researchers, oil companies, manufacturers—are talking to each other in ways that represent, if not actual progress, an end to frustrating paralysis of the past 30 years . Allowing for the inevitable spin—sometimes I feel like a dime store top—this makes sense on the surface.

The real worry to me is funding. The ARC reportedly is budgeting for up to 10 fuel candidates. I find it difficult to believe many companies would propose a new product into a market with demonstrated declining volume, with high legal liability and one which some major players seem likely to exit. I'd be surprised to see half that many. What if the FAA doesn't get its $60 million funding, which is proposed over multiple years? (This by an agency that has trouble getting single-year requests approved.) And if it doesn't get the funding, will companies like Swift and GAMI see further delays because the FAA goes numb on testing? If that happens, it won't do much for buyer confidence, although it also won't change the fact that 100LL will continue to be available.

The ARC's 300-page plus report seems to cover every eventuality but that one, or so I surmise. What it needs is a circuit breaker that allows, in the event that the FAA doesn't get its funding, a faster, more efficient industry-centric process that allows the companies themselves to perform the tests, overseen by the FAA, which is exactly how airplanes and engines are certified now. The way the ARC set things up would be the equivalent of Boeing or Cessna or Cirrus wheeling its airplanes into an FAA hangar and having the government do all the cert testing. There's a reason we don't do it that way, but no clear reason why fuel certification is just the reverse.

I'm hopeful that when the FAA finally releases the details of its recommendations that owners and would-be buyers will have enough information to make intelligent, rational assessments of where the piston fuel market is headed. It's not enough for the FAA, the manufacturers and the alphabets to make cooing, don't-worry pronouncements. They need to hang some details on the bones of that claim. We'll see if they do.

Comments (81)

The small aircraft industry is but one more area of manufacturing that the “clean and green” movement is shuttering in the U.S. G/A's situation is kinda like the handgun business: Second Amendment enemies have long known that if you can't control the gun, limit access to the bullets. And likewise, eliminating the fuel is the most efficient way to kill the G/A industry.

Now may be the time to consider accellerating the depreciation and tax write-off schedules for the remnants of this once thriving industry. I think new or near-new aircraft may soon be auctioned off for pennies on the dollar anyway, so recouping whatever remains from the shell of this industry might as well begin now.

Can I hear someone say “fire sale?”

Posted by: Phil Derosier | May 27, 2012 12:28 AM    Report this comment

Thanks Paul, you've woven a credible narrative with little that's official to go on. The secrecy and length of time it has taken the ARC to get to "soon-to-be-made-public" status should concern all of us -- especially if the FAA is to be a single point of failure going forward.

If there's a bright side to this it is that the FAA has a long history of using "designated representatives" to handle much of its certification business, from pilots to STCs. So there's a precedent for 3rd-party involvement in fuel certification testing. Maybe the FAA needs a little help in defining how that would work. It may be too much to expect that an FAA committee would diminish the FAA's own role in future fuel certification testing.

Posted by: James Grant | May 28, 2012 6:31 AM    Report this comment

"What it needs is a circuit breaker that allows, in the event that the FAA doesn't get its funding, a faster, more efficient industry-centric process that allows the companies themselves to perform the tests, overseen by the FAA, which is exactly how airplanes and engines are certified now."

Why not pay Petersen Aviation to do all the tests? They have received approval for 100+ autogas STCs since the 1980s. The tests were specified by the FAA and are very rigorous, as attested by the excellent track record of autogas.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | May 28, 2012 7:25 AM    Report this comment

Good article. I will have to admit, the uncertainty of aviation fuel availability was one of the factors that caused me to purchase an airplane that can run on auto fuel. In the current political environment an "industry-centric process" looks like pure fantasy. I agree, less regulation would be better. The FAA should publish the specs and let the market determine outcome. The uncertainty added by certification / regulation is going to cause the most capable companies to opt out. We will never know if there is a better solution because it will not be developed.

Posted by: Dana Nickerson | May 28, 2012 8:18 AM    Report this comment

Good article. I will have to admit, the uncertainty of aviation fuel availability was one of the factors that caused me to purchase an airplane that can run on auto fuel. In the current political environment an "industry-centric process" looks like pure fantasy. I agree, less regulation would be better. The FAA should publish the specs and let the market determine outcome. The uncertainty added by certification / regulation is going to cause the most capable companies to opt out. We will never know if there is a better solution because it will not be developed.

Posted by: Dana Nickerson | May 28, 2012 10:24 AM    Report this comment

I would not be afraid to buy a brand new Cirrus 22 T with the new Continental engine all tested and approved for unleaded AVGAS 94 UL but however for political reasons by the respective companies not yet certified by the FAA. For those having engines close to TBO yes there are options. If you have a Cessna 172 with a Lycoming O320-H engine which requires 100 LL you may switch to a Lycoming O-320 or O-360 certified for AVGAS 91/96 where you have at least two options of available and certified unleaded AVGAS today (Hjelmco AVGAS 91/98UL or UL 91 AVGAS). I recommend everyone to be active when making important decisions today. We have what we have today in unleaded AVGAS and those fuels that are beeing tested and not yet certified we don,t really know very much yet.

Posted by: Unknown | May 28, 2012 1:38 PM    Report this comment

We need to get to a fuel more in line with the rest of the supply chain rather than the superb, but boutique fuel we have now. While some may blame the "greenies," the fact is that in a large part of the world where there is no "green movement," you cannot find avgas. I would suggest the fuel producers give us an octane they can supply worldwide, within the bounds of what chemicals the fuel cannot contain, and then the aviation industry make the engines accept the fuels. The 94UL that Continental was in favor of, or the 91UL that Lycoming has recently endorsed, both sound like a high quality way to go, using ingredients we are already using.

We need to make the engines work with the fuels available. Worldwide.

Posted by: Jim Rickey | May 28, 2012 8:10 PM    Report this comment

The range of comments here reflect how "not enough information" yet perpetuates a confused market.

The comment " we need to make engines work with the fuels available" rightly or wrongly assumes that the major driver of fuel sales--legacy owners--will convert or buy hardware in sufficient numbers to constituent a fuel market worth pursuing and/or one that won't tank what's left of the market.

In Europe, Total is pushing 91UL into airports, with the apparent goal of an alternative to mogas or to drive mogas out of the market. Legacy engines that require 100LL can't burn it, but there aren't that many in Europe compared to the U.S. The fleet makeup is different here.

So let's say you roll out a 91UL or 94UL here as the replacement fuel for legacy airplanes that require 100LL, forcing the owners to buy compliant engines. Maybe compliance means an $8000 ADI system or a $9000 ignition system. Or perhaps a new, replacement engine that's certified for the lower-octane fuel.

What's the take-up rate for this idea? How many owners will go for it? Who's going to invest in the certs, where required? What model of this approach doesn't accelerate the erosion of the market?

It's less of a problem for new airplanes. But new airplanes don't drive fuel sales, legacy models do.

Same logic applies to re-engining an airplane now in anticipation of 100LL not being available. I can see an argument for that, but not necessarily a sensible financial one, even if you can find an STC to do it.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | May 29, 2012 7:32 AM    Report this comment

Good comments Paul. Things vary by country and region. Parts of Europe where mogas is not on airfields, like England, might be convinced to buy Total's UL91, which some call 'perfumed mogas'. My guess is they will fail with this in Germany and eastern Europe where cheaper mogas is very common and popular. Emerging markets like China and developing countries have nothing but mogas and jet fuel, so if you want to operate a plane or sell one there, you must burn one or the other of these fuels. In the US it will likely depend on the market. Many (most?) vintage planes, low-compression STC holders, E-ABs and new LSAs in the warmer climates will prefer cheaper mogas. Those needing 100 octane will likely do nothing until the tank at their airport goes dry. Who knows when that will be? It appears though that ADI and new engines will support autogas or jet/diesel, so perhaps it does make financial sense to do nothing now, other than be prepared for the inevitable.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | May 29, 2012 8:08 AM    Report this comment

Regulation is conspiring to put me out of airplane ownership – at least ownership of a plane that I’ve had since 1987. Examples: The panel is home to a perfectly good Loran navigator (Flybuddy) that the Obama administration rendered obsolescent with its shutdown of the Loran transmitter chain. I’ve already spent about $2k to obtain a “slide-in” replacement GPS navigator; the installation will cost me another grand or so – to get back to having the very same capabilities that I had on the day before Obama “helped” me. By 2020 (a mere 7-1/2 years away), I’ll need to upgrade to ADS-B – a minimum investment of $5k. It likely will cost more than that. The next time my ELT gives up the ghost, I’ll have to install another “newer/better” $5k device. My high-compression engine (a little over 400 hrs SMOH) absolutely requires 100LL fuel. The good news is that I have access to lots of other planes. The bad news is that I like my small personal plane – so much, that I’ve kept it; cared for it; upgraded it, for the last 25 years. Given what airframes are worth in this market, it’s becoming almost impossible to justify the kinds of expenses that I’m talking about here – even when you’ve got the money. Frankly, I’m hesitant to buy anything that doesn’t burn kerosene. Seriously. A personal jet may be the only thing that makes sense for me. How weird is that?

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | May 29, 2012 8:43 AM    Report this comment

Paul, a 300 page report and the $60 million funding request IS THE PROBLEM. There is no reason why 100LL can't continue and no reason why that $60 million can't instead be used for direct subsidies of new pumps for 91 UL for the masses. There is no "problem" in doing that.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | May 29, 2012 8:47 AM    Report this comment

Paul -- there is very little published what octane numbers 100 LL stamped engines REALLY need. The majority were stamped 100 LL or 100/130 because no other fuel was available at the time of certification. I feel it perfectly sensible to get an AVGAS 91/96 UL 180 hp Lycoming engine via an STC for a C 172 with an O-320-H engine. An O-360 engine in that aircraft gives you real increase in performance and worth every penny. But of course you might not need this performance increase.......

Posted by: Unknown | May 29, 2012 10:39 AM    Report this comment

How many tests of a fuel do we need? 5 YEARS or more just to say yeah you can burn it in your airplane? Other than testing octane, vapor pressure and compatability with materials in fuel systems what else is there? Most of these tests can be done in a year or less and the rest is just paperwork. Swift should start marketing a STC. There is some truth to engines being marked 100LL just because that is what they were certified on and also all that lead is harmful to the older engines causing stuck valves and other problems. Getting rid of the marginal increase in octane by the large amounts of lead added would be good for these engines. At what compression ratio do you absolutely need 100 octane? I think it is more of a safety margin than an absolute need. Has anyone tested these engines to find out if 94 octane would suffice? Sadly GA is being regulated out with these and other issues like NextGen and requirements for more and more equipment to fly fewer and fewer hours everyyear until the developers take over the airports and the only way to get flight instruction is from the military.

Posted by: Rodney Hall | May 29, 2012 11:11 AM    Report this comment

Regarding the comments that many engines "require" 100LL only because that's what they were certified for, here's my take on all of that. Yes, most of the lower-compression engines can probably run just fine on 91/94/96UL. Probably some of the higher-compression engines too. But it's not just a question of compression, but also temperature and how well the engine is cooled. The problem is that each model of engine is just slightly different, and each engine installation is also different. And with the lawyers, it's probably more of a liability issue than anything else why some obvious candidates (the O-320/360s, etc) aren't already certified to run on 91-96UL.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | May 29, 2012 12:13 PM    Report this comment

Gary - no one has really tested this bulk of engines what they really need. Agree temperatures and engine installation are important and when octane rating the engines these parameters are controlled. Most O-320 and O-360 engines are approved on unleaded grade 91/96 UL and EASA has cleared all airframes having engines that the engine manufacturers have approved the unleaded grade 91/96 UL. There are some hotted IO-360 and IO -540 engines that really need 100 octane but there are simple solutions to solve their problems, however such solutions cost money.

Posted by: Unknown | May 29, 2012 1:11 PM    Report this comment

Lars, The problem is, some of those solutions I've heard about involve de-rating the engines. I don't know if those solutions involve the IO-360/540, but I know it's true for some models.

I think this again comes down to the "20/80" rule of 20% of the engines using 80% of the fuel. It's those 20% that likely can't easily be converted to lower-octane fuels without some performance decrease. I'd agree that a one-fuel solution would be best, but we may be forced to have a 2-fuel (not counting Jet-A) solution, until at some time a true replacement for 100LL can be come up with.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | May 29, 2012 1:18 PM    Report this comment

Gary - Lycoming IO-360 exists in 160, 180 and 200 hp versions. So does the IO 540, in 235, 260 and 300 hp versions. Out of these only the 200 and 300 hp versions need 100 LL. However you can install smaller pistons and derate to 180 and 260 hp and install stand alone turbos which will give you these engines their power back to original values. Yes this will cost money -- but the engines will be more efficient, use less and cheaper fuel and you get an aircraft with turbo performance. The latter will increase utility and market value of the aircraft. A win win situation for everyone. There are solutions out there - if we just look around!

Posted by: Unknown | May 29, 2012 1:35 PM    Report this comment

Lars, You mention the IO versions of these engines. I wonder if the same is true for the non-fuel injected O versions.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | May 29, 2012 1:42 PM    Report this comment

Gary in practice the non-fuel injected engines are not critical because the fuel distribution is so bad anyhow with carburettors so you cannot effectively use the higher octane numbers.(you always have to been on the extra rich side and thus you cool the engine which then requires less octane numbers). There are some excemptions -- but google "Lycoming SI 1070" and look.

Posted by: Unknown | May 29, 2012 2:13 PM    Report this comment

I think it would be good to get over the idea of government "help". We do not need UAT commitees or $60M of tax payer monies. If society has agreed that leaded fuels are bad, then fine, let's set a date and issue a rule that prohibits leaded fuel after that date. If there is a potential profitable market, then a fuel will be made. It might not be 100UL, it might be 91UL or 94UL, whatever appears to be profitable to the business types. The airplane manufacturer's will only sell new airplanes which work with available fuels and vice versa. The old airplanes will adapt as necessary (and profitably) or disappear. It really can be that simple.

Oh yes, and the FAA will actually reduce the certification obstacles for new fuels. It turns out that their jobs are dependent on having airplanes around to regulate, and they understand this.

Posted by: Stephen Phoenix | May 29, 2012 5:34 PM    Report this comment

What about GAMI? There never seems to be much about them and my experience with them has been they really have their act together. Is their solution too simple for the industry that tries to make everything seem difficult?

Posted by: Stuart Baxter | May 30, 2012 7:33 AM    Report this comment

"I think this again comes down to the "20/80" rule of 20% of the engines using 80% of the fuel."

Or was it 30/70, or 50/50? Where are the recent facts that support these numbers? During AERO in Germany, people I spoke with stated that about 50% of all the fuel burned in pistons there is mogas, and this percentage is increasing. Germany is not the US, but is does have the greatest level of G.A. and sport aviation in Europe. It would be good to see reliable numbers on who burns what fuel in the U.S., and not only from the top-tier FBOs (and NATA) who sell mostly to corporate operators.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | May 30, 2012 7:47 AM    Report this comment

Lars, what's wrong with the concept of a single unleaded fuel, like 91/96UL, with TEL added at the pump as (and only if) needed?

That way only one fuel need be produced and distributed and the cost of the extra octane borne only by those who use it.

Posted by: Kris Larson | May 30, 2012 11:01 AM    Report this comment

"...Or was it 30/70, or 50/50?..."

Kent, I built a spreadsheet a year or so ago and came up with close to the 70/30 ratio. It was based on GAMA and FAA registration data.

I'll see if I can find it. If you have Excel, I can send you a copy next week (I'm away from home right now).

Just as a point of reference, I burn close to 3,000 100LL gallons/year. Busier big twins burn a lot more.

Bonanzas, big block Mooneys, Cirri and such exist in the fleet in greater numbers, and are flown more, than the week-end warriors flying an hour for pleasure on good weather days.

We need the 100UL. However, there is nothing wrong with Mogas or 94UL for others. You probably realize that the FBO's need to see a profitable business model before adding a third fuel.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | May 30, 2012 12:56 PM    Report this comment

"...TEL added at the pump as (and only if) needed?..."

Doesn't matter where it is added. The banning of TEL is what started this kerflufal.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | May 30, 2012 1:01 PM    Report this comment

Kris - TEL is very toxic and difficult to handle. The scavenger is even more toxic than lead. Also TEL freezes at around minus 5 C if not premixed in AVGAS. I know TEL is transported in certain countries i normal tank cars -- in Europe however TEL is more handled like nuclear waste. As an AVGAS 100 LL producer -- knowing about the regulations for us to handle TEL I see it as impossible to get it handled at local airfields. Amines do the same job as TEL but in few %% of mixture but they are also very toxic. Regulators want us to cease using these toxic substances -- so going unleaded without TEL and amines would be the choice. We could use ETBE which is a preferred oxygenate outside the US and there is work going on in that field. The largest producer of ETBE in the world is however the US -- but it is all going for export.

Posted by: Unknown | May 30, 2012 2:57 PM    Report this comment

He repeats.....what about GAMI?

Posted by: Stuart Baxter | May 30, 2012 5:40 PM    Report this comment

Edd, thanks I would like to see your spreadsheet. Agreed that free markets - not committees or the government - should determine what fuels we use, and this will vary by airport. We're also looking at the theoretical percentage of all planes that could use a low-octane fuel like mogas or others. With no or minor mods, we estimate it is now around 80%-90%. With ADI water injection you can cover the remaining 10% and still need only 91 AKI mogas. This percentage grows as more aircraft with new mogas-burning engines enter the fleet and as large displacement avgas plane owners switch to jet-a diesels and turbines. We need to have a fall-back option when TEL disappears since now we have nearly all our eggs in one frail basket.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | May 31, 2012 8:23 AM    Report this comment

He repeats.....what about GAMI?

What about it? Like Swift, they continue to test. Like Swift, there's no reason to believe it won't suffice. Like Swift, the economics remain unproven in the real market. GAMI continues to experience delays from the FAA in gaining STC approval. It's also pursuing the ASTM path.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | May 31, 2012 8:57 AM    Report this comment

There seems to be some misplaced notion that this can and should be solved by market forces. Market forces have had 30 years to do this and the result has been zero because there is no market for the new fuel. No surprise.

What the ARC may do--and we will see--is to pull things together from the government side and clarify path and intent to the extent that market forces can actually pick a direction to go. Otherwise, nothing will happen for the next 30 years or until the thing reaches crisis stage.

It may already be there, in a way. There's some assumption that buyers will readily convert to things like ADI, lower compression pistons, new engines and so on. Some will. But it matters to the entire GA industry how many will. There's some critical mass for this and if not reached, it could tank the values of a lot of high-dollar airframes that will substantially reduce the fleet and GA activity. If you think it's bad now, imagine a third less or half the flight activity we saw in 2011.

We're losing pilots, not gaining them. This trend will continue for awhile. Couple that with an accelerated erosion of airframe values because owners don't want to do these conversions that we think are no-brainers and you have wide implications.

That's why the argument keeps coming back to a 100-octane replacement.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | May 31, 2012 9:14 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I agree 100%. If there was a true, growing market for an unleaded 100 octane fuel, the major avgas producers would have developed it years ago. Free markets will solve this dilemma in the end, but not everyone will be happy with the short-term outcome. I hate to admit it, but I do believe we'll see continued erosion of 100LL aircraft values and I see not way of stopping this. If the top-down, solution-by-committee is to force an over-priced 100 octane lead-free fuel on everyone, this will only serve to kill off the low end of the market and sport aviation in general, which is where the future owners of high-performance aircraft originate. I think the best is to take some clues from Europe. There is no one best solution but a variety of fuels, including still 100LL. This is also driving new technology in Europe in engines and more efficient aircraft that have great specs on lower hp, see the Diamonds and the Panthera for example. The huge inventory of cheap, old Spam cans in the US from the post-wars/GI Bill bubble is holding us back in many ways.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | May 31, 2012 9:29 AM    Report this comment

Paul, Does anyone, including ASTM, engine manufactures, EPA and so on, know all the components in GAMI's G100UL? If not... why not? Previously, (and currently?) there was some secrecy regarding just what G100UL is made of. By this time in the process shouldn't there be complete transparency regarding those components so all would know just what is in this candidate unleaded avgas? If those components are still unknown, when will we know what they are?

Posted by: Greg Morton | May 31, 2012 11:30 AM    Report this comment

As far as I know, the ASTM application has the latest GAMI formulation. So does Swift's, for many months now. I've reported on both. They aren't public record because ASTM developmentals aren confidential.

G100UL is a high-aromatic blend of aviation alkylate and xylene, plus some other components. I don't know what final ratio they've settled on, but I think around 70/30. No evidence has emerged that it's not a suitable high-octane fuel.

Swift is a binary blend of mesitylene (also known as trimethylbenzene) and isopentane. It's not a hydrocarbon-based fuel. Again, no evidence that it's not a suitable fuel.

Both have been tested extensively to address worries that the aromatics could cause seal and gasket damage. Again, nothing has surfaced yet.

And this gets me back to my original point about the certification. No company is going to come forward with a fuel that they haven't tested to death for all of these characteristics and required performances ahead of the game. That would be irrationally wasteful of time and treasure. They aren't throwing darts hoping one will stick to the FAA board.

So having done that, why does is make sense for the FAA or even a third party to repeat this testing? The way it should work is to have the FAA specify the cert tests and then review the test protocol and results for veracity, or do same through the DER structure, as they do for other certs.

Yet they're doing the reverse. Why?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | May 31, 2012 12:26 PM    Report this comment

Kent, That "huge inventory of cheap old spam cans" is the only thing keeping many people flying. This includes me, flying a Pitts built in 1973, that needs 100LL. When this Inventory goes away, so will most of these pilots, including me.

Posted by: Jim KLick | May 31, 2012 12:51 PM    Report this comment

Paul:

All of these non-refined fuels are interesting. But are they fungible among themselves and with 100LL? Can I run any random combination of these fuels in my tank and through my high-compression engine?

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | May 31, 2012 12:59 PM    Report this comment

"But are they fungible among themselves and with 100LL?"

Supposed to be fungible and miscible. The emerging specs will address this, I'm told. Nonetheless, I think some operator judgment will be required. What if, for instance, you had 20 percent G100UL, 10 percent Swift and the rest 100LL? Or reverse that?

There are minor weight considerations, but they aren't show stoppers. Testing should show any performance or seal/gasket issues.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | May 31, 2012 1:33 PM    Report this comment

Jim, I feel your pain, trust me. My two A&P sons will be affected if 100LL disappears, too. Based on what is happening in Europe however, I do not expect this. Avgas is used far less there, yet I have not heard that those who need it can not get it. Mogas helps the low end keep costs down, and we need the low end is we ever want future Pitts pilots. Jet fuel burning diesels appear to have a chance at the high end. But the addition of mogas and jet-diesels does not have to come at the demise of 100LL. This does not have to be an either-or decision.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | May 31, 2012 1:41 PM    Report this comment

The aviation gasoline fleet consists of carburetted and fuel- injected engines. Their abilities to handle different fuels varies. A carburettor is built aroung limits of density of the fuels, including for taking care of winter and summer temperatures when cold fuel is more dense and hot fuel is less dense. A carburettor also needs to take heat from the air in order to vapourize the fuel. This is why you may get carburettor ice. Some heavy fuel components need more heat than others. For some fuel components there is not enough heat in the air at all. Such fuels are then only possible in fuel injected engines. In carburetted engines such fuel components may enter the cylinder in liquid form effectively washing of any oil on the cylinder walls. The result is known. So an AVGAS 100 UL could work perfectly well in a fuel injected engine where heavy fuel components will vapourize but be a disaster in a carburetted engine. Fuels with high aromatic contents could be very heavy however still having great octane numbers. These are some of the challenges any UL fuel developer has to cope with. I have developed and put into commercial production unleaded AVGAS for 3+ decades and believe me the most challenging is to control the density if you don,t want to scrap "the cheap old spam cams".

Posted by: Unknown | May 31, 2012 2:05 PM    Report this comment

Lars writes the following at various places in this blog: 1) “I would not be afraid to buy a brand new Cirrus 22 T with the new Continental engine all tested and approved for unleaded AVGAS 94 UL ”

Lars, the data does not agree with your view of this matter. I HAVE seen the data on that engine on 94UL. I have run very similar engines on 96UL. Trying to run that engine on 94UL is, flatly, unworkable in any manner that the owner of those airplanes would be willing to tolerate. The owners of those aircraft typically operate those engines with lean mixtures at high altitudes with very high induction air temperatures and at 85+% of its rated power. If those owners are forced to 94UL all of those operational options disappear. The airplane will be forced to slow down 20knots or more. They MIGHT be able to operate the engine at 65% of rated power, under those conditions.

George

Posted by: George Braly | May 31, 2012 2:43 PM    Report this comment

George: We obviously have different opinions what is acceptable or not. I HAVE met and talked to the people working on that project. My interest is to have the GA fleet flying. There will always be compromises at the end. If the fleet will survive at 20 knots less than today I am more satisfied than there is no fleet at all in the air.

Posted by: Unknown | May 31, 2012 3:13 PM    Report this comment

George, for those who don't know you, I need to identify you as chief engineer of General Aviation Modifications, Inc.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | May 31, 2012 5:24 PM    Report this comment

Lars, Regardless of what you have been told by people "...working on that project" - - the data is the data. The data is not subject to spin. I have the data.

I think the general aviation piston owners should harshly reject even the slightest hint that the fleet of aircraft should be downgraded or derated in even the slightest degree. It is a crazy notion. It does a huge and harmful disservice to the industry.

Regards, George

Posted by: George Braly | June 1, 2012 12:22 AM    Report this comment

To further elaborate:

We have been operating an 8.7:1 CR turbo charged Cirrus on unleaded avgas for 2 years and five months. Most of the time, that aircraft has been operated with the 310 Hp engine - - NOT DERATED - - BUT RATHER - - UPRATED TO 350 BHP.

The G100UL(R) fuel contains commonly available (in huge quantities) streams of petroleum products whose known pricing allows that fuel to be cost competitive with existing 100LL.

Airfame material chemical compatibility testing with the Cirrus fiberglass airframe has been accomplished successfully. Detonation testing has been successfully demonstrated multiple times, not only with the 310 BHp high compression engine but with that engine uprated to operate at 350 BHp and 460 d F CHTs on the unleaded fuel under fully compliant FAA hot day certification conditions.

Cold weather testing has been sucessfully accomplished in both the fuel injected turbocharged engine and in a Cessna 150. See: http://www.gami.com/g100ul/g100ul.php

. . . for a video clip of the cold weather starting testing last winter.

We did the same on a Cessna 150, also. Regards, GeorgeHÈ

Posted by: George Braly | June 1, 2012 12:28 AM    Report this comment

Still further information:

The FAA certification effort has had some issues. Some very good people in the FAA finally intervened and put the project back on track.

The FAA people working the engine certification side of the project are focused and knowlegeable and that part of the project is now moving forward rather nicely. The FAA had three senior people spend two days in Ada, Oklahoma last week working on the Part 33 engine certification. They observed detonation and back to back performance and cooling testing of the unleaded fuel. Two hot day climb tests to 18,000 feet were conducted while they were here.

The negativity of the owners and the general marketplace is understandable. But it is crazy to tell owners they are going to have to spend multiple large four and five digit sums of money in order to fly a degraded aircraft.

It is simply NOT true.

Ultimately, the most important aspect of this whole issue has revealed itself over the last two years. We (the industry) should get the lead out of the fuel, not because of any proper or misplaced environmental concerns. We should get the lead out because the engines will run better and run with lower ongoing maintenance costs without the deposits from the leaded fuels.

From where we are now - - it could all be done in a time frame of months, not a decade or more.

Regards, George

Posted by: George Braly | June 1, 2012 12:39 AM    Report this comment

George - I don,t have any insight in your fuel, what components it has or what you or the FAA are doing at your company - so I cannot comment on that. I can comment on the work we have done for 3 decades in Sweden at latitude N 60 degrees and north thereof in the field of unleaded AVGAS. If you think you have done progress -- great -- I am the first to congratulate. Regarding the Cirrus 22 T model I would be happy to buy it and operate it on an AVGAS 94 UL fuel. The producer of the engine and the producer of the aircraft have confirmed to me that that aircraft is OK with such a fuel.

The fuel issue is a political issue. In my part of the world arguments such as " I have to have lead in AVGAS otherwise I loose 20 knots in speed" are just not accepted by the politicians.

Posted by: Unknown | June 1, 2012 2:27 AM    Report this comment

I don't think anyone here is arguing that we have to have lead in avgas, we have to have an acceptable substitute. A fuel that costs a 20% performance penalty is not a solution but another nail in the GA coffin

Posted by: Richard Montague | June 1, 2012 8:25 AM    Report this comment

The link to the video clip of the cold weather starting on G100UL(R) avgas was clipped out of the previous message. Here it is.

http://www.gami.com/g100ul/g100ul.php

Posted by: George Braly | June 1, 2012 10:58 AM    Report this comment

"A fuel that costs a 20% performance penalty is not a solution but another nail in the GA coffin"

While I subscribe to this theory, the more people I talk to, the more I realize that attitudes toward this problem are completely Balkanized.

There are several discrete approaches that are not solutions. Diesel engines are one. Mogas is one. 91UL is one. ADI is one. De-rating engines is one.

Taken in totality, do these represent approaches that staunch the GA bleeding? I haven't heard a convincing argument that they do. But I don't think anyone knows for sure.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | June 1, 2012 10:59 AM    Report this comment

Or was. It will not upload in this blog. If you want to see it, try going to the GAMI web site and clicking on the link to G100UL. You can find it there.

Posted by: George Braly | June 1, 2012 11:00 AM    Report this comment

Thanks Cessna and Textron Lycoming for moving the train. I just got into my hands Cessna,s service-letter SEL 12-01 dated May 22 2012 effectively putting 23.000+ Cessna aircraft eligble to use unleaded AVGAS UL 91 and unleaded AVGAS Hjelmco 91/96 UL. The new SI 1070-R from Textron Lycoming dated April 16 2012 also further facilitates the use of unleaded AVGAS UL91 and unleaded AVGAS Hjelmco 91/96UL and it incorporates important original knowledge from Hjelmco regarding mandatory oil additives for safe engine operations.

Posted by: Unknown | June 1, 2012 11:00 AM    Report this comment

Richard -- when meeting the Cirrus people - no-one advertised to me a 20 % performance reduction. Actually the data presented were in the range of the 100 LL operations for me in Sweden. So I don,t see UL 94 as a nail in the coffin - but a serious attempt from a great aircraft builder to present a solution - because the unleaded AVGAS Hjelmco 91/98 UL is fairly meeting the octane numbers of teststandard UL 94 from ASTM.

There are other engines out there too but I don,t see 20 % performance reductions -- more perhaps in the range of about 5+ % and typically new engines are approved while within +/- 5 % in power - so that would not pose serious problems.

Posted by: Unknown | June 1, 2012 11:09 AM    Report this comment

What I believe is the biggest obstacle is the lack of an unleaded AVGAS today. The engine manufactures have developed new, modern engines that are capable of producing all the HP that general aviation needs on lower octane unleaded gas. Even GAMI was developing such technology until they abandoned the project in favor of developing their own fuel. But none of those engines/modifications have come to market because there is no fuel available to run them on.

Operators of higher performance aircraft should have the option of:

1. Paying more for 100 octane either leaded or unleaded (if it ever happens) and not modifying their engines

2. Modifying their engines to run on lower octane (cheaper) unleaded AVGAS

3. Not modifying their engines and accepting reduced performance running on unleaded AVGAS.

What should not be done is for, yet another, pie-in-the-sky "one-fuel-solution" (just like the fatally flawed 100LL) to be forced on 100% of users (the majority of whom do not need 100 octane) just so that we can continue to use 50 year old technology.

If G100UL truly delivers all that George promises and can be produced for less than 100LL AND a lower octane unleaded AVGAS like 91/96 or 94UL, great! It will dominate the market and the FBOs will sell it only. Until then, a 2 fuel "solution" will allow the market to determine the appropriate combination of octane and technology to keep GA airborne.

Posted by: Kris Larson | June 1, 2012 11:47 AM    Report this comment

Lars,

My idea is to reduce/eliminate the issues people have with a "2-fuel-solution".

While, while pure TEL is very toxic, what I suggest is TEL diluted to a level that his transportable with a high degree of safety. How much 100/130 would need to be mixed with 91/98UL or 94UL to bring the octane to 100?

For decades TEL was sold as an additive called Ethel to be added to autofuel, at the pump. Could 91/98UL be brought to 100 octane with an additive?

Posted by: Kris Larson | June 1, 2012 11:52 AM    Report this comment

Lars, I have an IO520-A, are you saying I can run it on your 94 UL with no noticable loss of power?

Posted by: Richard Montague | June 1, 2012 12:57 PM    Report this comment

Richard -- without having test data I would say and assume your engine will NOT make it with UL 94 - but a turbocharged same engine TIO 520 with lower CR will do it and produce the same power. Luckily Lycoming has done some more work (long time ago) than Continental. An Lycoming IO 540 engine making 260-270 HP would do fine with 94 UL - this is my assuption.

Posted by: Unknown | June 1, 2012 1:55 PM    Report this comment

Chris. Yes a lead content about 1/5 of currently present in 100 LL would take Hjelmco unleaded 91/98UL up to 100 LL parameters -- BUT -- octane numbers do not tell the full story. The octane rating engine if used with fuels of low TEL will give the numbers -- BUT -- in reality these numbers are not sufficient. On the other hand if you use ETBE in the blend it effectively increases the efficiency of TEL by 100-200 % pending fuel formula. When we produce 91/98 UL we use the same fuel for making 100 LL. When adding normal levels of TEL to the 91/98 UL AVGAS we get around 110/140 in AVGAS ratings. I agree with you having a two fuel solution with , GAMI ? or SWIFT? fuels for 100 octane engines and fuel and fuel injected ONLY, and UL 91 for the rest of the fleet. But the US oil industry has refused such a solution.

Posted by: Unknown | June 1, 2012 2:04 PM    Report this comment

A two-fuel solution? For most FBOs, that's not an option. The cost of an additional fuel farm and/or an additional fueler truck is absolutely prohibitive. We need a drop-in replacement for 100LL, plain and simple. And it has to be fungible and miscible with 100LL, in all proportions, because there's no chance that the entire infrastructure will flip on one date. None.

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | June 1, 2012 2:35 PM    Report this comment

"The cost of an additional fuel farm and/or an additional fueler truck is absolutely prohibitive." That's just simply not true Tom. It's a lie that has been repeated so many times that people have taken it to be "a given". In fact, Kent will sell you the equipment at a very reasonable cost. So reasonable that many are purchasing the equipment to dispense MOGAS. So let's stop pretending that it is somehow more feasible to develop, test, certify, produce, distribute and sell an entirely new type of AVGAS (that will work in 100% of all aircraft) at a cost equal to or less expensive than 100LL than is to install a few new tanks and pumps…. PLEASE!

Posted by: Kris Larson | June 1, 2012 3:33 PM    Report this comment

Kris, just out of curiosity, where are you based?

I agree with Thomas. Over the past several years, I've chatted casually (not a formal survey) with the operating managers from Million Air, and Signature at LGB, SNA, VNY, MRY and probably some others.

There is no interest in providing a third fuel. Flowage is not enough to make a profit.

Kent may sell the equipment, but there are HUGE issues here in California regarding installation with regards to permitting, EPA and CARB environmental impact reports, etc.

Right now, LGB is planning to just move one of the existing tank farms and the airport manager is thinking it will take a minimum of 2 years to just do the paperwork before work starts.

If you want to self-fuel mogas for your own plane from, say a tank in the back of your pick-up, it is illegal here to bring it on the airports.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | June 1, 2012 4:14 PM    Report this comment

How is it possible that Sweden for 30 + years has been able to provide both unleaded AVGAS and AVGAS 100 LL at 100 + airports? Sweden is as sparsely populated as Alaska with huge distribution challenges. The fact must be -- if you want it -- you can do it.

In reality the TEL business has been going on for 30 years in the US and it seems like many people around in the business cannot accept changes even for the better. As George stated above -- getting rid of TEL "the engines will run better and run with lower ongoing maintenance costs without the deposits from the leaded fuels." He confirms our experience. TBO in typical Lycoming engines operated only on our UL AVGAS is closer to 3000 hours than 2000 hours.

Posted by: Unknown | June 1, 2012 5:02 PM    Report this comment

Edd, I have conducted a formal survey and my findings more or less agree with yours. We interviewed a couple of dozen airport operators and FBOs around the country.

I wouldn't say there's zero interest in a two-fuel or more GA economy, because you will always find some takers. But this group of operators didn't believe it was very likely to happen and few of them were interested in the idea themselves.

It's possible that this could change over time or that you only need dual fuels at a certain percentage of airports and at some point, you reach critical mass of enough supply points. I have no idea.

But I do know that these operators didn't think much of the idea and didn't consider the investment trivial.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | June 1, 2012 5:10 PM    Report this comment

Paul - they have to say so -- because it is always cheaper to have only one product. But if you had to chose between closing the FBO or put up another fuel tank and of course charge the customers for the cost - what would the answer be? We also have to know that producing unleaded AVGAS is cheaper than making 100 LL. TEL is about 40.000 USD per tonne today. Also looking at the Blombergs article of April 19 there only seems to be urgency in 3 states in the US, California, Texas and Florida. Sure the infrastructure there could handle that business. Actually costs for extra tanks is not really a respected opinion when speaking with politicians. For all the years - the industry has said it is not possible to make the unleaded fuel. Now with GAMI, SWIFT, Hjelmco 91/96 UL and UL 91 it is possible -- then the argument is it is too expensive. This argument is just not credible - now when AIR TOTAL is launching UL 91 in France, Germany, UK and more countries in Europe and we also have the Swedish experience with Hjelmco 91/98 UL.

Posted by: Unknown | June 1, 2012 5:26 PM    Report this comment

Lars, we all know 100LL is going away. That's not the issue. The FBOs I mentioned make most of their profits from turbines and will not close if they lose the 100LL business entirely.

But, I think they would prefer to have an avgas product to sell us, and make a profit for themselves. They are always glad to see me for my 100LL usage. If that product is GAMI, Swift or whatever, it will only be put in place if it is a drop-in replacement for 100LL, in my opinion.

The news Paul reported about the various working groups making progress towards an 11 year target date is very positive, in my opinion.

If a plan exists amongst the government and significant players, it is useful for arguments against the current lawsuit in California by a small 'Enviromental' group essentially trying to extort money from our FBOs.

I really doubt Mogas can be a significant player except for experimentals and some LSAs. There is NO nationwide standard for what mogas is. It varies from state-to-state, and sometimes county-to-county. It changes on the whims of governments large and small and the ethanol lobbyists.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | June 1, 2012 6:15 PM    Report this comment

If FBOs only want the "bother" of selling one AVGAS, let them choose between Unleaded Avgas or 100LL. They could also choose the 100UL alternative (if it ever happens). Many fields have more than one FBO. Let one be 100 octane, and the other be the cheaper lower octane fuel.

This could start tomorrow...

Let the market decide...

Posted by: Kris Larson | June 1, 2012 7:15 PM    Report this comment

Back to the 30ies.... As everything in this civilization that peaked with Concorde and Apollo (and NOT with the iPad2), even Aviation fuel will now apparently regress to the standard of the 1930ies: In the 1930s Major Jimmie Doolittle, already famous in the aviation community as a racing pilot, was head of the aviation fuels section of the Shell Oil Company. At that time, most gas had no more than an 87 octane rating. He pushed for the development of 100-octane fuel (commonly called Aviation Gasoline or AvGas), and the infrastructure needed to produce it in large quantities. This was the biggest advantage US fighter planes had.... ENGINE POWER. But still better than the cars: The Obamobile brings us back to 1905: That year, the “Electric Victoria” was built in the Berlin Siemens-Schuckert Plant. And the only thing we know for sure: Bare a revolution of the few sane left, the insane will end this civilization. FAST. And technically, today's ultra-low-lead 100LL contains less lead than 80 gasoline 50 years ago. SO WHERE IS THE PROBLEM? By the way, those guys that complain about valve sticking on their 80/87 certified engines, just should learn to lean for taxi. And if you ask me, I want 145 back!

Posted by: Robert Ziegler | June 1, 2012 10:45 PM    Report this comment

And if you leave fuel development to the Gubmint, the only thing you'll get is a 300 page report. If Gubmint were in charge, the Wright Flyer would have been grounded for excessive CO2 footprint compared to a green riding donkey. G100 exists already. Invented by a small private company.

Posted by: Robert Ziegler | June 1, 2012 10:52 PM    Report this comment

Ed - the problem is no-one yet has presented that certified fuel that can make a drop in for 100 LL and ALL the aircraft concerned. As the fleet looks like today - see my earlier comment about fuel injected and carburettor engines it is very complicated. Let,s take another example. If you make a fuel high of heavy components and say this fuel has a density around 0,8 (same as jet-fuel). At minus 40 degr C. this fuel is almost up to a density of 0,9. If you then have a carburettor with a floating gear - this high density will restrict the fuel flow (floating gear is up) - at the same time as the the same floating gear and same setting with 100 LL and density 0,74 will work perfectly well. If you want ONE fuel the characteristics of such a fuel has to mimic 100 LL so the entire piston fleet can use the same fuel. This is why AVGAS basically looks the same all around the world, regardless of US standard, Russian standard or Chinese standard. Trial and error from the beginning has lead us to where we are today. Saying so - still perhaps an inventor comes up with a solution in the future and we are there.

Posted by: Unknown | June 2, 2012 4:59 AM    Report this comment

In 2006 Hjelmco presented an AVGAS 100 UL based on ETBE. It was supported by a research report of 400 pages made by a major US GA airframe producer. Now after 6 (six!) years ..... a fresh standard exists from the ASTM for an aviation grade of the component ETBE. In another fuel - small amounts of ETBE into the existing 100 LL will make the TEL to be so much more efficient so an AVGAS 100 ULL (ultra low lead) is possible. Such a fuel will have the characteristics of the 100 LL AVGAS and thus be a drop in fuel. However the US seems to be very resistant to ETBE based on concern on ground water issues if leakage would occour. On the other hand most states in the US is fully accepting fractioning (pumping water+toxic chemicals under high pressure into the ground)when producing shale oil and gas. So the solutions are there -- but it is all about politics? ETBE is the preferred octane improver in gasoline in most of the largest consumption areas for gasoline in the world except for the US. However as said before the US is a major producer of ETBE in the world. Doubble moral - or politics? You choose. Until unduly obstacles are removed - it looks like the US is going nowhere - and that,s dangerous for the GA community.

Posted by: Unknown | June 2, 2012 5:15 AM    Report this comment

Kris:

"If FBOs only want the "bother" of selling one AVGAS, let them choose between Unleaded Avgas or 100LL." That was my point. The VAST majority of FBOs will NOT install duplicate infrastructure - the investment simply will not pay for itself.

"Many fields have more than one FBO." The count may seem high, but the US is a big place. The geographic density of multiple-FBO fields is not sufficient to serve the marketplace.

As for having different FBOs on a common field offer different fuels, you'll find that in many cases the ONLY reason that a second or third FBO is in the avgas business at all, is to service its own fleet of rental/training aircraft. Once they've committed to the infrastructure costs, they offer the product for sale to the public. Now, if their entire native fleet could burn one of the alternative fuels....

But that won't address the goal ( ? ) of a universally-available drop-in replacement for 100LL.

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | June 2, 2012 8:31 AM    Report this comment

"the problem is no-one yet has presented that certified fuel that can make a drop in for 100 LL and ALL the aircraft concerned."

Lars, I have to disagree with what you're trying to do here and that's insert significant disinformation. You are as aware as I am of the cold weather and carbureted engine testing both Swift and GAMI have done. These tests in no way indicate that these fuels are non-starters. Suggesting that D910 look alike is the only solution because it is all we have ever known is a misnomer, at best. D910 was a backed-in spec built around what was known to work. But that doesn't mean it's the only thing that will, despite theoretical density issues with high aromatic fuels. Further testing may reveal insurmountable problems with high aromatics, but it hasn't yet.

As for the ethers, you know and I know--although the readers of this blog might not--that ETBE and MTBE, while superior oxygenates to ethanol--are unlikely to be players in the U.S. fuel markets because of ground water contamination issues, over which the oil companies lost a lot of money.

It doesn't matter what you do in Europe or in Japan or in Asia. Those regions have different tort environments than the U.S. and it seems unlikely that refiners would go with an ETBE fuel in the U.S. Perhaps not impossible, but there seems little interest in the idea.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | June 2, 2012 11:56 AM    Report this comment

Paul - I agree - the world is not the USA. And perhaps the future market actually is outside the US - China or elsewhere - who knows. The US like Swedeb has an aging airfleet and aging pilot population. How does the market look like in 15 years?

This is why we now today and not tomorrow in 12 years as the ARC is suggesting have unleaded grade 91 and 91/96 UL on its way to be the European way of solving the lead problem while the US is nowhere and looking for where to go!

For the others. Hjelmco has been in the unleaded AVGAS world for 3+ decades. What Swift and Gami are doing based on what we know and they inform the public about -- is nothing new. Even the Third Reich with Hilter during the 1940:ies tested things such as heavy aromatics and so on. Mesitylele is not a new comound and the FAA tested it decades ago without giving any recommendations.

If the US comes up with something new - that,s great but as far as I understand at the end it will all be poltitics. cont.

Posted by: Unknown | June 2, 2012 1:42 PM    Report this comment

cont. If the US is fine with fracking for shale gas and oil - that is fine with me even if the risks are multiples higher than using ETBE. (MTBE is another compound.) At the end it is about politics -- the US is currently ready to accept the risks with shale oil/gas because you see the potentials. Not seeing the potential of ETBE is a mistake. The problems some states had with not maintained and controlled under-ground fuel tanks for car gasoline cannot be transferred to AVGAS tanks above ground and with the procedures of maintaining aviations fuel terminals. If oil-companies accept the risk of shale gas/oil production today - of course the liability risk of using ETBE is nothing. So also in this respect it is all about politics.

So Paul - I am not disinforming as I can see from my side. Perhaps the US people are just not informed.

Posted by: Unknown | June 2, 2012 1:43 PM    Report this comment

"Perhaps the US people are just not informed."

And perhaps they are and have a view different than yours, Lars. You always have to allow for that, don't you?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | June 2, 2012 6:34 PM    Report this comment

Lars, People have been fracking oil and gas wells all over the county in which I live - - since before I was born. It is so routine nobody even thinks about it. Thousands of wells within 20 miles of where I sit typing this message. Fracking a well 4000 to 18,000 feet down below the surface, with steel surface pipe in place to a depth below the presence of fresh watter is simply an activity that has absolutely no relationship to risks of contamination of shallow fresh water supplies by MTBE or other substances. To people that have some experience with oil field technology - - the analogy you are attempting to use says more about the speaker than it does the subject matter. I would suggest you might try to find a more useful analogy.

Regards, George

Posted by: George Braly | June 2, 2012 9:32 PM    Report this comment

George - fracking is prohibited in France/Europe just bacause of risks of ground water pollution. At the same time ETBE is used widely in France/Europe as a preferred oxygenate in car gasoline. So the oppposite to the US. What it is all about. Politics.

Posted by: Unknown | June 3, 2012 4:33 AM    Report this comment

Paul- I respect different opinions - sure I do and I appreciate exchange of ideas in an honest and non-dicriminatory way.

When you say the ARC is saying the US needs 11 more years and 60 more millions US dollars to find out what to do - I cannot see that all the questions out there have been answered and that the US is 100 % informed.

Both GAMI and SWIFT were members of the ARC committee. Hjelmco was not. So if the members of the ARC committee comes out with a report stating the above I of course have to make my conclusions of that.

I also think it is a misunderstanding that I am making comments on GAMI and SWIFT fuels. These companies should speak for their products by themselves.

I make my comments as can be read in general based on the knowledge I have during my 3+ decades of developing unleaded AVGAS - the problems we found and why we are where we are today.

My comments about ETBE and lead have been taken from a presentation at Oshkosh by the now retired chief engineer of Cessna for piston fuels and engines a person I highly respect.

Posted by: Unknown | June 3, 2012 5:06 AM    Report this comment

Ok.

Accept my apology then. Disinformation is too strong a term. I hereby withdraw it.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | June 3, 2012 7:38 AM    Report this comment

>>George - fracking is prohibited in France/Europe just bacause of risks of ground water pollution. At the same time ETBE is used widely in France/Europe as a preferred oxygenate in car gasoline. <<

Lars, it may be politics. But the ban on fracking in Europe is just another junk science concept.

The last time I looked, there were not very many oil and gas wells onshore in Western Europe. The technology of fracking requires that the fresh water zones be protected by cemented steel pipe that extends well below the depth of the lowest zone that contains fresh water. Typically from the lowest zone of fresh water down to the dept at which the fracking takes place there will be a number of zones that contain oceans of salt water. In order to contaminate the fresh water, one would first have to pollute the multiple formations containing oceans of salt water. It is crazy stuff.

Regards, George

Posted by: George Braly | June 3, 2012 11:51 AM    Report this comment

Lars, you write: >>Both GAMI and SWIFT were members of the ARC committee. Hjelmco was not. So if the members of the ARC committee comes out with a report stating the above I of course have to make my conclusions of that. <<

GAMI (Tim Roehl) did participate on the UAT-ARC committee. Because of that participation, and until the report and the minority report are released, we are, just as a matter of common courtesy to the other praticipants, constrained by what we can say about the matter.

It is true that one senior FAA manager did make a comment about 18 months ago, in reference to fuel issues, to the general effect that some people in the FAA have a difficult time understanding why the FAA should be doing for industry, that which industry should be doing for itself.

That statement could be updated to:

" . . . difficult time understanding why the FAA should be doing for industry, that which industry should be doing for itself - - and is already doing for itself." Regards, George

Posted by: George Braly | June 3, 2012 12:00 PM    Report this comment

Lars,George:

Informative debate. Its great to hear from the actual players in the business. My concern is that BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, etc. control much of the distribution channel as well as manufacture of 100LL in the US. How is an alternative producer going to distribute to all the public use airports in the US? It cant just be regional if 100LL will be completely phased out.

Posted by: Jim Lo Bue | June 5, 2012 2:55 PM    Report this comment

"My concern is that BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, etc. control much of the distribution channel as well as manufacture of 100LL in the US. How is an alternative producer going to distribute to all the public use airports in the US? "

Most likely it will be licensed to one or more of those companies and GAMI/Swift will earn royalties on it.

Posted by: Andrew Upson | June 6, 2012 1:39 PM    Report this comment

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