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New Fuel: Who Picks It?

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Now that the FAA is actively seeking proposed unleaded replacements for 100LL, the covers are about to be removed from what can generously be described as the hard way to solve a problem. Last week, the FAA called for the fuels industry to submit proposed unleaded replacements for avgas by July 1, 2014, after which they'll be asked to prepare larger volumes for more evaluation. After that, more testing, more meetings, more paper.

So over the next year, expect to see a slow motion calling of the cards as the oil companies reveal what they've got, assuming the likes of Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips intend to remain in the avgas game. It's generally assumed that they do because as a refinery product, avgas yields a tidy margin, even though the volumes involved are miniscule and not likely to grow much, if indeed they don't decline. Long term, Jet A-burning engines will displace avgas, albeit at what appears to be a glacial pace. Mogas may or may not have a role in the U.S.

What the oil companies have in the works is largely unknown by the flying public. We've seen some patent activity during the past couple of years from Chevron and ExxonMobil and I wouldn't be surprised to see more filings before the FAA's July 1, 2014 deadline. I don't think it's possible to judge the viability of these fuels merely by patent claims. The FAA says it will accept up to 10 potential candidate fuels and after initial evaluation, it will winnow those down to one or two for further testing to develop detailed certification standards.

And that's the part of the process I don't particularly like. When I asked the FAA what the criteria for selecting those one or two fuels was, the agency replied that this hasn't been determined yet. It deflected follow-up questions for more information. On the one hand, the proposed process—which came out of the Unleaded Avgas Transition ARC—has a not-too-objectionable open-ended quality to it. The candidate fuels are submitted and tested and the cards fall where they might. On the other hand, with no selection criteria announced, what will influence the picking of a winner? Isn't this a little like a game of find the hat? What keeps the selection process from being swayed by internal or industrial influences we don't know about? And what assurance do we have that the winning fuel—not really a fuel per se, but specs—won not because it's the best choice, but because the developer of that fuel did the best politicking?

In a sense, isn't the FAA inserting itself into that which it shouldn't: making market choices and determining the best economic outcome? Why doesn't it make more sense to establish a performance criteria, certify those fuels which meet it and let the market sort out the options? As currently construed, the process is a little like asking Boeing, Airbus and Embraer to submit aircraft designs and having the FAA pick the one it likes so all three have to build the same thing. Strategies like that are producer centric; they favor companies, not customers.

This is further complicated by the long timeline, which extends into 2018, if not beyond. This allows the FAA, the industry and the alphabets plenty of time to further complicate that which is really not that difficult a thing to do: Figure out a performance spec for a workable 100LL replacement, then let the market shoot it out to determine the winner.

The counter argument, I'll concede, is that having too many fuel choices certified by the FAA would cause chaos in the market and would, in fact, makes things worse. While there's truth to that, I'm not convinced that a government agency is the best way to sort it out. In fact, I guess I'm convinced of the opposite.

You may logically wonder why the engine makers, the airframers and even the oil companies, all of whom are governed by the harsh realities of market dynamics where decisions have to be made quickly and products developed at the speed of heat, sign on to such plodding programs. In fact, they actually sought FAA involvement. The answer is: they don't have a choice. When your business is attached to the FAA at the hip, this is your world.

I'm glad I'm just livin' in it.

Comments (41)

Interesting blog Paul...as usual!

I think you are correct that the SPECIFICATION for a new 100LL replacement needs to be adopted first THEN accept some fuels for testing. I don't know if your "let the market shoot it out" approach is correct because with new standards, someone is bound to say "well, X is equavelent to the standard"...if that is so then why have standards.

Keep up the good writing!

Posted by: R. Doe | June 19, 2013 7:35 AM    Report this comment

It is a fact that GAMI has developed a drop-in unleaded replacement for 100LL. Paul, will you please examine and report on this? Why doesn't the aviation press follow up on this development at GAMI?

Posted by: John Ewald | June 19, 2013 9:17 AM    Report this comment

In most endeavors you set a goal and then figure out what you have to do to get there. In this case it seems there is not definite goal or standard to meet so how will a "winner" be decided? My bet is on whomever has A.) the most political influence (read campaign contributions) and B.) the "greenest" solution whether or not it is actually affordable and can be used in airplanes. Call me a cynic but it seems reality lately has been ignored in favor of political correctness and EPA mandates.

Posted by: Rodney Hall | June 19, 2013 10:51 AM    Report this comment

I'm not aware of a drop-in unleaded replacement being developed by GAMI (doesn't mean it doesn't exist, just that I don't know about it), but I know they are working on an engine modification that will among other things allow many engines to run on unleaded fuels. Unfortunately for the planes I fly, their modification requires a (provided) standby alternator, and the engines in these planes don't have a mounting point for the alternator. At least, not unless we spend the effort to completely replace the vacuum system. Fortunately, though, an STC does exist for these engines to run on existing unleaded fuels.

As backwards and undefined as the FAA's approach is, I am more hopeful that a solution will eventually be found.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | June 19, 2013 10:59 AM    Report this comment

Gary,

see www dot gami dot com/g100ul/g100ul.php

or just google for G100UL to see numerous reports and a few in-flight videos of GAMI testing this fuel.

John,

The biggest concern with G100UL is its high aromatic content, which, though GAMI says they don't think is an issue, is very difficult to verify to be compatible with the myriad aircraft fuel systems that are in the field.

Posted by: Joshua Levinson | June 19, 2013 11:05 AM    Report this comment

The key phrase here is "the volumes involved are miniscule." The last thing the EPA or anyone else needs to worry about is the atmospheric impacts of 100LL. Yes, I know, this ship has sailed. But it is still frustrating to watch the center of rational thought slide into the abyss of our obsession with sustainability and political correctness.

Posted by: Jerry Fraser | June 19, 2013 12:24 PM    Report this comment

The FAA's long-timeline approach reminds me more than a little of the FCC's let's-see-how-it-goes approach to American HDTV back in the 1980s. It was a deliberate ploy to buy time for a consortium (the "Grand Alliance") of firms to collaborate on a scheme that eventually spawned the ATSC standard that we adopted in the late '90s. The objective was to shut out the Europeans and the Japanese, who already had their own mature standards and technologies. "It ain't a good idea until it's THEIR idea!"

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | June 19, 2013 3:10 PM    Report this comment

"Paul, will you please examine and report on this?"

I'm resisting wise cracks about sleeping readers. We have reported on the fuel issue ad nauseam, including G100. A cursory search on AVweb will reveal this coverage, including a video report.

The story you're missing is that while it's GAMI's view that G100 is drop-in and ready to go, the industry and FAA has constructed this rather cumbersome, telescoped approval process. Like it or not--and I'm not sure I do--that's what the industry agreed to. And that's the point of this blog. No fuel has gotten through this process yet, even though its proponents claim it is ready to go.

If G100 is drop-in and ready to go--and I'm not convinced it's quite there yet--then why can't market forces be allowed to vote up or down on this? Because all of the fuels have to step through all these hoops to gain approval, so the FAA has artificially inserted itself into what would otherwise be pure market determination, thus my comment of being joined at the hip by cert requirements.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | June 19, 2013 3:54 PM    Report this comment

GAMI sought approvals through the STC process which torqued off the FAA which insisted that it not be done that way which then made it more difficult for them to achieve even these minimal approvals. That also torqued off the Gun Club of the existing fuel suppliers and ASTM approval committees, so GAMI didn't get much support there, either. These established bureaucracies have their accepted way of doing things, thanks to inertia and years of doing it the same way, aided and abetted by the alphabets, FAA and the oil companies.

When challenged, they close ranks and construct complex, multi-step programs to solve whatever problem is before them. And that's what you see here.

Sorry it is this way. But it is this way. Not that I'm saying you don't need cert standards for fuel. These are definitely a must. What's not needed is this long, overly complex process to get there. GAMI should be able to throw its fuel into the test process and get a determination. But the establishment won't allow that.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | June 19, 2013 3:57 PM    Report this comment

@Paul Bertorelli "...why can't market forces be allowed to vote up or down on this?"

You're freaking kidding me, right? With the government we've got? When has the fed.gov pursued anything like a meaningful free-market solution to, well, anything since probably the Regan Administration? And even Regan wasn't as strong on free markets as he could have been. You have to go back to about Calvin Coolidge to get a real limited government, free-market response to most things. And he was sandwiched by some of the most statist administrations ever (Wilson and FDR, with "honorable" mentions of TR and Hoover).

Posted by: Andrew Upson | June 19, 2013 6:02 PM    Report this comment

I'm so tired of this subject, the arguing, delays, denials, finger pointing. I've made up my mind - my next plane will fly behind a Rotax. I'll pick up fuel in Jerry cans at the corner station. Sorry for those with the need for high performance engines. When I have that need, I call my ticket agent at Delta.

Posted by: jay Manor | June 19, 2013 7:44 PM    Report this comment

Well here is a nice conundrum. This issue of 100LL has been around a few millennia and if all things were equal the engine manufacturers would have changed their designs to accommodate a different fuel type. By now most of the old designs would have been replaced and the problem long gone.

So the engine manufactures and the FAA are joined at the hip hence the lack of problem solving. This issue will continue unsolved until GA no longer exists.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | June 20, 2013 5:58 AM    Report this comment

Same here Jay. Well, almost. I'm sticking with my low compression IO 360 M1A. I don't know how a manufacturer can build much less a customer buy a high compression engine on a brand new airframe when the future is so uncertain regarding fuel. The FAA's latest statement regarding any new fuel clearly acknowledges that a drop in replacement for 100LL is all but inconceivable and that high comp. engines will pretty much require stc mods to burn the new fuel. Way to much uncertainty for me to even think about a new plane with a high comp. engine with associated fuel burn without even an inkling as to what the new juice may cost. It's pretty clear no one driving this ship really cares what it's going to cost the end user once a selection has been made. They just want the lead out at all cost regardless what the cost.

Posted by: Tom Cooke | June 20, 2013 6:07 AM    Report this comment

Doesn't anyone look to Europe for answers? They are well along the way to a multi-fuel solution driven by free-markets, not EASA, not the EPA, AOPA, etc. We know from the FAA's own registry that well over 80% of the existing fleet of pistons can today operate safely and legally with mogas, on nearly all cases with no modification. Most E-ABs, LSAs and ULs can and do operate on mogas. The new INPULSE water-injection system, already approved by the FAA for Barons & C210s, can allow essentially any high-compression engine to operate on cheaper mogas, paying the cost if the mod in a few years.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | June 20, 2013 7:07 AM    Report this comment

All gasoline is by definition ethanol-free at fuel terminals where it is mixed with ethanol, so its supply is not fundamentally a problem. Ironically, the same Avgas suppliers that now make $1 or more per gallon of Avgas (according to Paul's recent article in Kitplanes) and refuse to bring mogas to our airports, happily do this in Europe. It is pretty clear what is really going on here - the Alphabets have all decided to help Avgas suppliers and major FBOs (NATA members) maintain their high margins on Avgas by blocking free-market competition, even when the result is a dramatic reduction in flying activities due to the high cost of fuel. Contrast the $1 or more and FBO makes per gallon with the typical margin on gasoline at a gas station of around 5 cents. Look at how Europeans solve the dilemma - instead of creating a new boutique fuel to support an aging fleet of aircraft, they develop new engines to burn commodity fuels, mogas and Jet-A. The result is that nearly all new innovation in aircraft engines now comes from Europe. Free markets work very well when unincumbered by bureaucrats, lobbyists and crony capitalists, the bunch that is now trying to dictate the fuel we may use in the future.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | June 20, 2013 7:07 AM    Report this comment

All gasoline is by definition ethanol-free at fuel terminals where it is mixed with ethanol, so its supply is not fundamentally a problem. Ironically, the same Avgas suppliers that now make $1 or more per gallon of Avgas (according to Paul's recent article in Kitplanes) and refuse to bring mogas to our airports, happily do this in Europe. It is pretty clear what is really going on here - the Alphabets have all decided to help Avgas suppliers and major FBOs (NATA members) maintain their high margins on Avgas by blocking free-market competition, even when the result is a dramatic reduction in flying activities due to the high cost of fuel. Contrast the $1 or more and FBO makes per gallon with the typical margin on gasoline at a gas station of around 5 cents. Look at how Europeans solve the dilemma - instead of creating a new boutique fuel to support an aging fleet of aircraft, they develop new engines to burn commodity fuels, mogas and Jet-A. The result is that nearly all new innovation in aircraft engines now comes from Europe. Free markets work very well when unincumbered by bureaucrats, lobbyists and crony capitalists, the bunch that is now trying to dictate the fuel we may use in the future.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | June 20, 2013 7:08 AM    Report this comment

Nothing stops anyone from certifying a fuel the autogas way (testing each airplane). The problem is that the free market says no bueno for a fuel that can be only used for a fraction of a botique market. So you have to show it's good for all airplanes all the time without actually testing them, or even being aware of the existance of some more obscure designs/stc's.

And pilots aren't realistically going to pay a dime more for a new fuel as long as 100LL is not banned. After all it doesn't do anything for *you*, at best it helps the environment. Which pilots vary from don't care to care as long as it doesn't cost me anything.

Even without the FAA, no matter what pilots say now they would sue into oblivion anyone that put out a fuel that damaged their engine/airframe. In fact their likely to bring lawsuits even for coincidental engine issues after the switch.

And no one without the deep pockets that lawyers lust for is actually going to be capable of bringing a fuel to an FBO near you.

Posted by: B Noel | June 20, 2013 7:21 AM    Report this comment

So the free market situation, completely ignoring the FAA, is that a company has to invest millions of dollars to bring a product to market that no one wants and you can't charge more for, but you could be sued. I don't think you really need the evil gubmint's involvement to understand why established companieso are trying to slow walk this.

The analogy of FAA picking airplane designs is not very good. A better example is the FAA picking a replacement spec for an aluminum grade with some changes. Some designs might be affected by the material property change, some aren't. It's hard to actually prove no one is affected, no matter how much hand waving various proponents make. And Boeing, Embraer, and Airbus don't have to be an evil oligarchy to have an extremely strong interest in making sure it's done right. It's their reputation on the line, the evening news is going to say a Boeing crashed not Alcoa failed.

Posted by: B Noel | June 20, 2013 7:22 AM    Report this comment

If there is any problem at all with the new fuel Lycoming, Cirrus et al are going to the courtroom even if they strongly opposed the new fuel. And if causes, or is even suspected to cause a crash of someone important the FAA is going to get dragged into a congressiobal hearing for a reaming by the same hypocritical windbags that pressured them to just get out of the way and approve this thing.

Posted by: B Noel | June 20, 2013 7:28 AM    Report this comment

Welcome to the world of politics. You are damned if you don't and you are damned if you do. :-)

Posted by: Bruce Savage | June 20, 2013 7:59 AM    Report this comment

One thing you can be (almost) sure about -- the FAA chosen winner will be American. Total, who have lead free alternatives and who want desperately to sell into the biggest and most dynamic GA market in the world, will just have to give a gallic shrug and mark it down in the little black book of insults they consult during trade talks.

Posted by: Brian McCulloch | June 20, 2013 8:06 AM    Report this comment

"All gasoline is by definition ethanol-free at fuel terminals where it is mixed with ethanol, so its supply is not fundamentally a problem."

Unfortunately, ethanol is also an octane booster, so the fuel at the terminals is of a lower octane than what eventually reaches the pumps. Another Kitplane article on GAMI's website (look for the PRISM page) explains how at the moment with food being tossed into pump fuel, that supply is somewhat of an issue. It need not be an issue if we'd stop dumping ethanol in our fuels, but that's another topic.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | June 20, 2013 8:20 AM    Report this comment

No one is refusing to sell Mogas to airports. FBOs are refusing to make the bad investment to start selling it. You tell a refiner you can buy an amount that makes sense at a cost that makes sense and they will sell it to you. They aren't part of any conspiracy to deny you Mogas.

OTOH, just about any US corporation large enough to have lobbyists could be playing in the grand conspiracy in DC these days. We will likely end up with a product spec instead of a product requirement like we did with windows. You can make a more efficient and safe window than the approved ones, but you can't legally sell them because the government decided on the only way to make a safe window years ago.

Posted by: Eric Warren | June 20, 2013 9:50 AM    Report this comment

Total's reputation is merde. If it were not, and the fix was in for a domestic winner, then they could simply partner with a domestic. Either there is no fix or no one trusts Total, why should you?

Btw, I am not kidding, no one trusts them. There are people taking their money, but no one knowledgeable trusts them.

Posted by: Eric Warren | June 20, 2013 9:56 AM    Report this comment

I buy 93 octane mogas and use it in my O-200 Continental. I am sure refiners could produce as much 97 octane mogas as they wanted so why can't that be sold as a replacement (properly blended) and those high performance engines simply be detuned by changing the timing. FAA could issue a AD for it and it would cost very little in money and probably only a few horsepower. No more lead, easy to implement and fewer maintenance costs on valves and engines. (might even be able to increase TBO on some of them).

Posted by: Rodney Hall | June 20, 2013 10:47 AM    Report this comment

We do not want a Solyndra scenario. We need a Betamax/VHS scenario.

And I continue to be dismayed at how little priority or chatter among the organizations claiming to represent OUR best interests is paid to retail price of any future fuel. Surely we can rely on the FAA and all the other entities to ensure we have a safe and reliable fuel supply with a full distribution network? It seems we can rely on no-one to protect our wallets and demand the lowest cost solution.

I envision FAA, EPA, AOPA, GAMA, and the energy industry smugly folding their arms and patting each other on the back in a decade or so - with a very nice replacelment fuel in place that costs us all $10 a gallon. What is the in-built mechanism and incentive to prevent this?

Posted by: James Herd | June 20, 2013 11:18 AM    Report this comment

James, the built in mechanism should be a minimally regulated free market.

Rodney, your Mogas idea will only be tried if 100 LL disappears. Otherwise, Mogas is too unstable for many airports to use even if you got the high performance market to use it. You have to remember that it's the HP guys that buy the vast majority of the fuel, and if they don't buy it, it rots. 100LL takes a longtime to rot, but Mogas has to get used and transport isn't free.

Posted by: Eric Warren | June 20, 2013 11:34 AM    Report this comment

I agree, this subject has become tiresome, at least to piston aircraft owners; but not to those in the FAA invested in, committed to, and benefitting from "loving the problem" for a few more years. The great irony is that the folks who have been unsuccessful at finding a suitable unleaded fuel for decades are the very ones anointed to manage the discovery and approval process over the next few years. I served on the FAA's UAT-ARC. Its report is an elaborate blueprint for managing a fuel qualification process, selecting the least objectionable solution, and managing the fallout of its implementation. It is based on the assumption that no "drop in" solution exists.

I am personally very familiar with the development of GAMI G100UL. IMO, it is a functional drop-in alternative that could be made right now at comparable prices to 100LL, with perhaps some savings from lower infrastructure and transportation costs. The fuel, the company, the inventor and the STC approval process has been aggressively fought by the FAA's "fuel expert" at every turn. In spite of this, to my knowledge a fuel specification has been approved by the FAA for the STC project, material compatibility tests completed, and flight testing in a worst-case scenario engine (high-compression and turbocharged) has been successfully completed. In flight tests alternating directly between tanks with 100LL and G100UL have been transparent in all flight conditions. G100UL is also completely fungible with 100LL.

Posted by: Jonathan Sisk | June 20, 2013 12:03 PM    Report this comment

What is clear to me in all this is that the interest of piston aircraft owners and pilots are VERY subordinate to those of the FAA and GA industry who depend on the FAA's goodwill for product approvals and continued operations. If the politics and personalities could somehow be removed from the process, it is conceivable that we could have a fully-functional 100LL replacement approved and in distribution in less than 1 year. That is a big IF, but possible with true leadership and a coordinated, committed effort. Not likely. In the mean time, fear and uncertainty over this issue is growing and sufficient to chase more affluent pilots to kerosene-burning aircraft. Many others are simply selling their aircraft and abandoning piloting altogether.

With piston GA activity in decades of decline and spiraling toward the ground, one would think that those with the most to loose, aircraft owners, would have a sense of urgency to support the most obvious, potential solution. But they for the most part are disengaged and content to let the OPAs do their bidding. With EAA and AOPA in lock step with the FAA, that strategy is not reassuring. Many seem to be content to wait for others to lead the charge, let government take care of it (or screw it up depending on your perspective), or hope they can wait it out till they retire from flying and pass this problem along to a declining population of younger pilots.

Posted by: Jonathan Sisk | June 20, 2013 12:04 PM    Report this comment

PB's pessimism about GAMI eventually prevailing against its adversaries in the FAA may be warranted –- it is a real life David and Goliath soap opera. I applaud AVweb for the fair news coverage they have provided over a period of years. Despite the odds, I remain optimistic that the supportive factions within the FAA (there are some) will ultimately let GAMI's STC effort sink or swim on its own technical merits.

Jonathan Sisk Past-President MMOPA Member, Clean100 Coalition

Posted by: Jonathan Sisk | June 20, 2013 12:04 PM    Report this comment

"Minimally regulated free market." Bingo! 100% correct. But that is not the current trajectory. So a major priority on retail avgas price just won't happen naturally, and not at all unless there is a very loud and sustained grass roots outcry. I don't see this developing yet, probably because there is too much paranoia on ensuring an unbroken supply. And of course it is always more fun to debate all the other important apsects from our computer desks, even though most of us are terribly ill-equipped top do so. And then we have the other 99% of avitors who remain ignorant or apathetic while Rome is burning.

Posted by: James Herd | June 20, 2013 12:04 PM    Report this comment

Reference Jonathan Sisk ..... Let's assume GAMI's G100UL has the necessary technical merit. Bravo to the boys in Ada! But let's see it sink or swim on its economic viability rather than be mandated upon us all, no matter the cost.

Posted by: James Herd | June 20, 2013 12:20 PM    Report this comment

I don't buy the conspiracy theory. From what I understand the "unsuccessful folks" did find at least some fuels that technically worked and did fly them but didn't pursue they are uneconomical. These were private industry engineers involved too (oil companies, cessna, lycoming). There have been successful biofuel tests as well...at $1000/gal. How much it costs is a big deal. Why haven't they been able to convince any major company to partner with them to bring this to market?

Posted by: B Noel | June 20, 2013 1:31 PM    Report this comment

Jonathan Sisk's discussion above is very informative. There are macro economic issues in play here affecting the situation as well. First, recognize the FAA has a bulletproof monopoly on regulation of fuels and it takes a lot of dynamite to move the bureaucracy any faster than it wants to go, especially now that the EPA has been waived off. Second, producers and distributors of 100LL are an oligopoly with zero incentive to change anything. There are significant barriers to market entry for any outside competitors. And, third, there is nothing inherently wrong with the present 100LL product despite the hyperbole and heavy breathing of environmentalists. No one to my knowledge has died from exposure to 100LL! The industry can continue to produce and use 100LL indefinitely.

None of this helps lower the price below current levels but then in this type of economic environment, consumers have virtually no pricing power since lower demand will likely just increase prices still further. We are f*#ked!

Posted by: Keith Bumsted | June 20, 2013 1:53 PM    Report this comment

Keith, One thing about oil companies these days which is often overlooked is there love of stability. At this point, the refiners would likely prefer a larger, more stable market for avgas. While you or I might be all about price per gallon, they really aren't so narrowly focused. If they can depend on a regular profit from Avgas per month that is higher, but is lower per gallon, they very well might do it.

What everyone touching aviation would really like is a reasonable limit to their liability and protection from suits where everyone except the jury knows the facts.

Posted by: Eric Warren | June 20, 2013 2:01 PM    Report this comment

"And, third, there is nothing inherently wrong with the present 100LL product despite the hyperbole and heavy breathing of environmentalists."

I'm not so sure I'd say that is 100% accurate. For the aircraft engines that don't require anything higher than 94UL (i.e. the low-compression engines), the lead doesn't really provide any benefit and just causes fouled plugs for those who forget to lean. And the main reason I'd like to see the lead come out isn't so much for environmental reasons, but simply because the lead is only produced by one manufacturer. Plus, if taking the lead out means simpler distribution of the fuel, that could potentially translate to lower costs.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | June 20, 2013 3:13 PM    Report this comment

THIS IS FROM THE AUGUST 1991 SPORT AVIATION-Unleaded auto gas and 10OLL without the lead suffices completely for 80/87 octane rated engines . .. and many engine experts believe that 10OLL without the lead and, very likely, premium auto gas are also adequate for normally aspirated 91/97 octane rated engines. What must be determined by the engine manufacturers is the actual octane require- ment imposed on an engine by its supercharger or turbocharger. Interestingly, there | are those who doubt that the relatively low compression, low boost, blown lightplane engines actually require higher octane fuel than normally aspirated versions of the same engine, as long as they are operated in their certified rpm and manifold pressure ranges. If it is determined that blown engines do need higher octane fuel, then a means other than lead must be employed to attain the necessary octane rating. As you will read elsewhere in this issue, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) appears to be the best choice . .. and auto gas specs the best upon which to base the proposed new avgas.

Now that MBTE was outlawed it made the choice harder but this was almost a quarter century ago and STILL no progress on this front. What the HELL!!! Prices just keep going up and we just keep sucking it up and paying more until an hour of time in a 172 costs $40 or more just for GAS.

Posted by: Rodney Hall | June 21, 2013 10:21 AM    Report this comment

What do you think 100LL should cost? Today I paid $4.54 / gal for premium gas for my car. A few days ago I paid $5.49 / gal for 100LL for my plane.

Seems to be a reasonable premium for a boutique fuel.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | June 21, 2013 4:37 PM    Report this comment

Unfortunately, we can't compare fuel prices without researching all the hidden taxes applied.

Posted by: Eric Warren | June 21, 2013 5:40 PM    Report this comment

"No one is refusing to sell Mogas to airports. FBOs are refusing to make the bad investment to start selling it. You tell a refiner you can buy an amount that makes sense at a cost that makes sense and they will sell it to you."

Really? Our FBO got a commitment from BP to supply mogas, but BP's lawyers vetoed the deal.

Posted by: Jim Lo Bue | June 29, 2013 8:44 PM    Report this comment

I suppose the good news is that when the government picks a fuel that requires significant cost to modify our HC engines, the government will give us subsidies, like the farmers. Or perhaps buy our airplanes for scrap!! What a bunch of donkey do!

Posted by: Richard Mutzman | July 1, 2013 7:02 PM    Report this comment

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