Flying G100UL: Yeah, It Works

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About a month ago, we reported on a new developmental fuel project called G100UL, meant as a direct, unleaded replacement for 100LL. At the time, George Braly, whose General Aviation Modifications, Inc. is running this project, promised to invite me down to watch a test cell run and actually fly the stuff.

Despite horrid weather, he was true to his word: On Thursday afternoon, I firewalled the throttle on a Cirrus SR22 at GAMI's Ada, Oklahoma home airport. "Congratulations," said Braly, "you're one of the first pilots to fly with the future fuel for general aviation." Gotta give the man credit for unbridled confidence if nothing else.

We spent the morning burning some G100UL in the test cell, comparing its detonation margin, BSFC and energy generation to 100LL. Bottom line: It's pretty close to 100LL across the board. It's a little heavier than avgas--6.4 pounds compared to 6.0 pounds--but it has higher energy density so it's within a couple of percentage points of being a wash. The governing spec for avgas is ASTM D910 and at this juncture, G100UL appears close to meeting it. There are some minor deviations that don't appear significant to me.

My knee-jerk journalistic skepticism prevents me from anointing G100UL as The One. I'd like to know more about the formulation and see some additional testing, but nothing I've seen so far remotely suggests that G100UL has any technical showstoppers. The octane is good, early tests have revealed no worries about seal and hose softening nor are there any apparent handling concerns related to toxicity, but it's still early in the test program. At the moment, nothing is guaranteed, so you should keep your Missouri Show Me hat in place. In aviation, disappointment is a constant companion.

What's most curious is the industry's reaction to this out-of-the-blue fuel development. It's almost as if no one wants to believe it. Braly has had to do some arm twisting to get the FAA interested and reports real resistance to his proposal to fast track this stuff. AOPA and EAA are interested, of course, and although invited, they weren't able to send representatives to Thursday's demo. GAMA's Greg Bowles did attend, despite the weather. The FAA also demurred.

There are several reasons why the industry is initially sleepwalking through this. One is that the search for a new fuel has become an end in itself. Ultimately, the entire exercise has had a degree of pointlessness to it because the EPA has never been serious about eliminating lead from avgas, so the industry has been on a free ride for 30 years. Against that backdrop, why would a refinery want to build a gasoline for which there is no ready market? Also, some may have felt burned by the Swift Fuel project, which hasn't yet delivered what many thought it might.

Now, with the Friends of the Earth breathing down the EPA's neck on the lead issue, it appears that the agency may be about to get serious about lead regulation. The big risk is that aviation interests have become so comfortable with the endless search as an industry unto itself that it may not know how to do the turn-on-a-dime that's desperately needed. Because the FAA and Coordinated Research Council boxed themselves in by requiring any new fuel to meet the current avgas ASTM D910 spec, it all but guaranteed that nothing ever would.

GAMI is outside the fuel development Gun Club loop. Many in the industry don't know of GAMI's technical expertise and haven't see the companies' sophisticated test cell and graduate-level analysis of the combustion process. In the fuel world, GAMI is just an annoying upstart, if you will.

Millions of dollars have been spent on research and some viable fuels seemed to have been proposed. But they never went forward because they didn't match the expectation of the present. This is, of course, the definition of in-the-box thinking. GA is, if nothing else, capable of stunning myopia at times.

If G100UL has legs--and it's impossible to say at this juncture if it does or it doesn't--the people at the pointy end of solving this problem need to get on it like white on rice. It should be advanced through testing as quickly as possible. If it's a dud, let's find out as soon as possible. If it's the real thing, let's get on with having refiners build the stuff and quit jacking around with all the fly speck reasons why we can't make this happen. Hand wringing over D910 ought to be replaced with--I dunno--actual problem solving. If we just keep in mind that the goal is a fuel that works, not meeting a spec for one that soon won't, we'll be fine.

Increasingly, I am beginning to get the impression that when the history of 100LL is written, finding its replacement will look like a bunch of well meaning, sincere guys stumbling around a pitch black forest with a half-dead flashlight. If anybody had bothered to look over their shoulder, they might have seen that the great shining city on the hill was there all along.

Comments (71)

It ain't gonna happen, but this 100LL replacement issue was a perfect opportunity to put GA at the head of the environmental pack by making it derived from a renewable source. The relatively small amounts would have perfectly lent themselves to a "cottage industry" of primary producers and small refinery/production facilities.

Posted by: John Hogan | February 6, 2010 8:59 PM    Report this comment

"What's most curious is the industry's reaction to this out-of-the-blue fuel development."

You answered your own question in the previous paragraph: "My knee-jerk journalistic skepticism prevents me from anointing G100UL as The One." and "In aviation, disappointment is a constant companion."

Wacky ideas seeking government funding have no doubt hardened even the most liberal of bureaucrats (how many perpetual-motion-machine applications does the Patent Office get every year?)

After shooting down all the 100-mpg carbs, fuel-from-water and cold-fusion ideas, it's no wonder that a desk-bound civil servant has lost any ability to discern the wheat from the chaff.

Color me 'pessimistically optimistic'. I hope I'm proven wrong. In fact, I can already see the play-on-words, marketing "G100UL" as the "Ghoul Fuel"!

Posted by: KIRK WENNERSTROM | February 6, 2010 10:30 PM    Report this comment

Thanks Paul for taking the time to actually go there and check it out for us. (AOPA/EAA:shame on you) I read the earlier article and was wondering about where this would lead (accidental pun). Another reason behind the scepticism must be the secrecy that surrounds the recipe. Or maybe your earlier article in itself, which mentioned that such fuel may come a steep premium. Thanks again for going, please keep us posted.

Posted by: Peter De Ceulaer | February 7, 2010 6:13 AM    Report this comment

Actually, if you knew of GAMI's track record, you'd tune out the dingbat factor. The company has a long history of delivering on technical claims and not over reaching, so they've got cred to burn. If this fuel proves unfeasible, they'll be the first to concede that.

As for funds, GAMI is funding these trials on its own dime. The FAA will have to devote resources to its own proving tests and the ASTM work. We're not talking a moon landing here. The government/industry cooperative needs to get busy on this one.


Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 7, 2010 9:42 AM    Report this comment

My limited experience with GAMI as a pilot and a engineer is that they are the real deal. If you have not seen their test stand, it is a very sophisticated testing device, and if they are claiming it works, it most probably does. As far as the formula being a secret at this point, I believe they have applied for a patent. If you were a small business in Ada OK would you publish the formula with the likes of Exxon lurking around? Just think of the 'green' claims they would be shouting from the roof tops if they came up with something.

I hope it works and if it does, good on you George and the rest of the folks at GAMI.


Posted by: Stuart Baxter | February 8, 2010 5:05 AM    Report this comment

What about the lead on exhaust valve seats protecting the valve and seat from excessive wear? Will we have to buy a lead additive to do this with non lead fuel? Seems silly to me.

Posted by: Chris Catalone | February 8, 2010 7:36 AM    Report this comment

Here comes seven dollar a gallon avgas folks! Check the previous Avweb article that stated that the "industry will tolerate that price."

Posted by: Art Ahrens | February 8, 2010 7:51 AM    Report this comment

From what I've read here and in other aviation sites, the problem with replacing 100LL is not the refining technology but the distribution system. Any new fuel would either have to fit into the existing system's certification or develop a new one, which means mucho buckos for any manufacturer.

Also, I'm curious what the engine configuration in the test Cirrus was. Did it have GAMI injectors and a sophisticated engine montor? If so, how will ghoul fuel run in a 1973 172 with an 0-320?

Posted by: Jerry Plante | February 8, 2010 8:04 AM    Report this comment

Chris; lead is not a lubricant, it does not lubricate valves to protect from wear. I seem to recall reading that it may help in dissipating the heat around the valve stems from the combustion process. This seemed to only be applicable to Lycoming engines as I recall.

Posted by: DAVID KALWISHKY | February 8, 2010 8:37 AM    Report this comment

Valve seat recession--and the protection lead provides against it--has been largely discredited as a concern. Lead is there for the octane, not to lube the valves. That was always true.

There's no obvious reason why G100UL won't transparently flow through the same distribution system as 100LL, with no changes. We would have to accept that trace amounts of lead would remain in the system for a some time, but would eventually be flushed out. This seems rational and reasonable to me.

The fuel needs to be run on carbureted engines, I think, to verify its performance there. The Cirrus I flew in and, of course, the test cell, were highly instrumented. I'd like to see outside, independent tests to confirm what I saw.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 8, 2010 8:42 AM    Report this comment

In all this debate over 100LL replacements, two items are usually overlooked - first, why will it cost more? For decades, we've been led to believe that much of the extra cost of 100LL is because of special handling (because of the lead). Now it doesn't matter? Also, it must be remembered how nasty lead is to the engine. There's a reason car engines last so long - no lead in the gas.

John W.

Posted by: John Winchester | February 8, 2010 8:42 AM    Report this comment

I agree that GAMI is the real deal. They seem to be the only ones doing research, on their own dime, without the constraints of government-sponsored research, to advance aviation. GAMIjectors certainly have increased the efficiency of thousands of aircraft by 15%, a big accomplishment. The engine manufacturers, with their liability concerns about changing engine operation recommendations, can't even acknowledge that GAMI advanced the field. I've visited their test stand; it is the real deal. It just goes to show what a few talented and motivated individuals can accomplish.

That being said, I am concerned my $3.75 self-serve fuel locally will go to $7 a gallon if this stuff replaces Avgas. Whenever something is new, it is an excuse to vastly increase the pricing and keep it there. The government hasn't really been serious about limiting 100LL production in an environment where there are no alternatives because of the ramifications. Now that there may be an alternative, they may well eliminate it!

Posted by: Justin Graff | February 8, 2010 9:32 AM    Report this comment

I firmly believe George and the rest of GAMI have the best interests of aviation in mind when developing G100UL. They don't want to see aviation fade away if 100LL goes away. Frankly, it competes against their PRISM electronic ignition system they've been working on for years to run on a no lead fuel. It's been in "development" for 10 or more years, but I suspect its been ready to go for most of this time. George has had it on his Bonanza for years. I suspect that FAA certification and liability issues have hampered its release. This fuel is a simpler alternative and hopefully applicable to all types of reciprocating aircraft engines.

One question is, without lead, would it be able to be moved through pipelines. We've been told in the past that part of the high cost of fuel is that it has to be shipped by truck and that adds perhaps a dollar per gallon.

If G100UL doesn't cause fuel cells, fuel line, or other problems, I am all for it if it is affordable. My concern is that when aviation is already on the ropes, that aviation fuel at European prices will kill the heart of aviation, those of us that are doing it on our own dime.

Posted by: Justin Graff | February 8, 2010 9:33 AM    Report this comment

The reason that 100LL has to go by truck is the lead.

1. There is now only one factory in the world which produces TEL; 2. Although there are several hundred gasoline refineries in operation, there is only a very small number which produce 100-LL; 3. A production run of 100-LL (in the USA) requires a subsequent purge of the refinery (very costly) before resuming production of unleaded motor fuel; 4. The leaded avgas requires (in the USA) completely separate transportation and storage facilities; 5. The volume of avgas production represents an extremely small portion (less than 1%) of the gasoline marketplace.

Thus if you eliminate the lead there is a good chance that the price COULD be substantially less if some of the above restrictions are eliminated. If you watched the video the IO540 engine on the test stand was run under 'normal operating conditions' forget about all the Sirrus add on.

Posted by: Stuart Baxter | February 8, 2010 10:08 AM    Report this comment

I believe it would be helpful to know: 1- How much of the avgas sold is used in airplanes that require lead? 2- Why would a distribution system accomodating a new, hi-tech fuel be any more complex or costly than simply allowing consumers to select LEADED or UNleaded at the pump? 3-Why shouldn't those aircraft requiring lead be tasked with the cost of such a delivery system by paying more for the additive?

In the 1950/60's several refiners allowed motorists to select their octane (lead) levels AT THE PUMP! My 170 doesn't need lead. Why should I pay for an additive that's harmful for my airplane and the environment? Would it be so wrong to let the ones who demand that stuff pay for it? Wouldn't the demand for high horsepower/performance simply dictate larger (yes, heavier) lower-compression engines? (Or reduction in performance of existing lead-hungry powerplants?) I want NO LEAD AVGAS available at the pump!

Posted by: George Horn | February 8, 2010 10:18 AM    Report this comment

There is a potentially simple way to moderate the cost of G100UL - pay George up front. GAMI deserves compensation for their hard work. If pilots pay them by the gallon (through the price charged by the refiners), it will be expensive. If FAA, EPA, Friends of the Earth and Congress are serious about stopping lead, they can pay GAMI an up-front fee to put the patent into the public domain. If George is a good businessman and serious about keeping his market (piston aviation) alive, he'll accept a lower final fee if he gets it up front. From what we've read so far, it appears that distribution should cost less than 100LL and manufacture shouldn't cost much more. So go for it, George - Save the GA world and get a tad richer in the process!

/Rick Tavan

Posted by: RICK TAVAN | February 8, 2010 10:48 AM    Report this comment

I just emailed John-Paul at GAMI. He indicated that PRISM and the Supplenator are still in active development, and even if G100UL becomes a future fuel, that PRISM electronic ignition will still have major benefits.

Posted by: Justin Graff | February 8, 2010 11:18 AM    Report this comment

This is extremely disappointing to say the least. The object of this exercise was to find a fuel that was NON-PETROLEUM based - to move away from the carbon type fuels. What happened and where – all of a sudden – did this fuel come from? This is not rocket science and the company that developed this fuel could have done this years ago. There is no way that this fuel will be completive in price as it will be a demand fuel that will capitalize on the federal requirement and cost more right off the bat.

Posted by: Paul Bern | February 8, 2010 11:23 AM    Report this comment

J. Graff said: "One question is, without lead, would it be able to be moved through pipelines." Yes it would since it is unleaded fuel, as long as the additives don't cause some other problem like increased corrosion, which isn't likely since it is an aviation fuel.

S. Baxter said: "The volume of avgas production represents an extremely small portion (less than 1%) of the gasoline marketplace." The last published stats for 2008 show that about 186 million gallons of 100 LL were produced representing 0.14% of total gasoline production. Makes you wonder why the refineries bother. Less than 10 out of more than 400 refineries in the US make 100 LL.

G. Horn said: "How much of the avgas sold is used in airplanes that require lead?" According to an old AOPA study in about 2003, 30% of GA aircraft used 70% of the 100 LL. Today that percentage is probably smaller, some say only 20% of the fleet needs 100 LL and only use 50-60% of the 100 LL.

Neither the report nor the GAMI rep seemed to understand the bureaucratic hurdles of getting a new unleaded avgas approved. It cannot be merged into the ASTM spec for 100 LL, D910, because that spec requires some lead. That is why the new 91 UL avgas spec requested by DOD had to go through a new approval process and ended up with a new number. It is also why 94 UL will have a new ASTM number. They are a long way, from approval, unless TEL disappears, which is possible.

Posted by: Dean Billing | February 8, 2010 11:44 AM    Report this comment

It's wonderful to see all the unguarded optimism here.

Posted by: Stuart Baxter | February 8, 2010 12:06 PM    Report this comment

More expensive avgas? You must be kidding. My airport is already dead....who could ever think in their wildest dreams that more expensive Avgas will help GA...freekin unbelievable. If we cannot make GA more affordable, it's over. Ghost Squadron? You bet -that's what we'll end up with because we won't have anyone around to sell our airplanes to...there is no reason a high price tag has to come with this fuel.

Posted by: MML INC. MC LAIN | February 8, 2010 12:40 PM    Report this comment

Why that is what all of these consolidated FBO's think! Aren't you happy that they serve you in their leather lounges? This is what is coming everybody, the FBO's are consolidating and making a profit of more than two bucks per gallon of gas at the expense of the average GA pilot. I was told by one of these superFBOs that I should be HAPPY to have all of these services. It won't be user fees or the TSA that kills aviation, it will be fuel prices and the FBO monopolies such as Avitat, Signature, Galaxy, Sheltair,etc that do it. Wholesale price for 100ll is now $3.29 per gallon by the way.

Posted by: Art Ahrens | February 8, 2010 12:49 PM    Report this comment

I have to Salute George for his good work... keep it up. Here in Canada we're paying $6+ per gallon and last summer the one western refinery in production had a problem and ran out of 100ll. The P&W 985 runs fine on 50/50 auto/100ll but the TSIO520 in my 210 won't handle it at altitude. Europes biggest issue is environmental because of the lead (and politicians listening to greenpeace). Something needs to be done for the world!

Posted by: DENNIS WEATHERALD | February 8, 2010 6:53 PM    Report this comment

"...Also, some may have felt burned by the Swift Fuel project, which hasn't yet delivered what many thought it might. "

Paul, are you referring to something specific that's happened since early December when Swift received the test spec. for 100SF from ASTM? Did anyone expect them to bring 100SF to market over the holidays? "Some" may not have a clue what's involved in certifying a new fuel -- perhaps to include GAMI.

Posted by: JAMES GRANT | February 9, 2010 8:59 AM    Report this comment

Paul, are you referring to something specific that's happened since early December when Swift received the test spec. for 100SF from ASTM<<

No. I am referring to a number of off-the-record conversations I have had with industry insiders about the unrealistic economics of bio fuels in general and Swift specifically. It was originally pitched at price point that no one in the refining industry--at least anyone I can find--thinks is doable. That's the "burned" part. False expectations.

As for certifying a new fuel, it is difficult and time consuming because we have made it that way by a slow moving, cumbersome process. In my view, there is no reason for this other than...we have always done it that way.

Review the key points in D910 and there aren't many. So any fuel that deviates from these should be given a fast track testing program at the risk and expense of the developers. If tests are favorable, rubber stamp it and move on.


Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 9, 2010 9:29 AM    Report this comment

The specs for Swift fuel aren't anything like D910. D910 is a complex hydrocarbon fuel. Swift has only two hydrocarbon components, which is why it is called a binary unleaded fuel. I would think that would require a whole host of tests to certify it as an avgas, especially if you want the FAA and manufacturers to accept it as a drop in replacement for 100 LL. My guess is that during the ASTM review procedure, which is consensus based, and the ongoing flight tests, additives may be required, costs unkown.

The real production problem is that Swift Fuel isn't made in a petrochemical refinery by known methods. It is a bio-fuel production process that must be scaled from demonstration amounts to commercially viable production amounts and many things can go awry, witness the problems that cellulosic ethanol has had for decades trying to get from demonstration to production.

The oil industry isn't going to have anything to do with Swift Fuel. The entire production infrastructure has to be built from scratch. Luckily the production amounts are minuscule compared to automobile unleaded gasoline production. But G100UL has the advantage, if you can call it that, that it will be produced by the present refinery industry we have today.

Posted by: Dean Billing | February 9, 2010 10:38 AM    Report this comment

If we could develop an STC for operating E10 (your standard mogas) in aircraft, then we'd have something, even if it required some cost to convert. I'd personally pay several thousand to do it to my 172, and the folks with cabin class twins might wince, but pay 30k or so to do it. That being said, I doubt it would cost anyways near 7,000 to convert the low compression engines. Rotax and the light sport arena seem to be moving in the mogas direction. I know about all the concerns with phase separation and all that, but it should be possible. I think as long as we require a "boutique" fuel, be prepared to pay for it!

Posted by: Josh Johnson | February 9, 2010 5:33 PM    Report this comment

Ghoul fuel? That's almost as good as Jurrasic Juice! And some interesting and knowledgeable comments here.

Posted by: John Hogan | February 9, 2010 10:29 PM    Report this comment

I would love to see a real alternative to 100LL as this would shut up the enviroweenies. However I'm not willing to pay $7.00 for avgas for that privilege.

I'm not holding my breath as this ruling is coming from the FAA, which, in my opinion, is a worthless bureaucratic SNAFU of massive magnitude. I would also like to have electronic ignition (FADEC if you will), a zero balanced cryo-treated engine, gap seals and a host other things which the FAA will never approve.

In short, as long as the oil companies can meet ASTM D910, we will have 100LL. When we run out of hydrocarbons; only then will the FAA will approve something else... Until then our piddly small useage of 100LL will be on a back burner.

Remember, the FAA's job is air safety. Planes that adorn hangars are a pretty safe statistic.

Posted by: David Spencer | February 10, 2010 2:06 PM    Report this comment

D. Spencer said: "In short, as long as the oil companies can meet ASTM D910, we will have 100LL. When we run out of hydrocarbons; only then will the FAA will approve something else... Until then our piddly small useage of 100LL will be on a back burner."

Apparently you did not read all the posts in this thread. It is not up to the FAA. The FAA has no control over avgas, but the EPA does have complete authority to remove lead from gasoline in the US. An EPA representative presented a forum at AirVenture 09 with an FAA representative present and said that leaded avgas will end at a date set through negotiations with FAA but not later than five years hence, from the summer of 09, and once that date is set there is no going back. The date would be set by the end of this year. The FAA representative said that the FAA understood this, they are on the same page. The date may come earlier if one of the "enviroweenies" wins a lawsuit against the EPA OR THE ONLY COMPANY IN THE WORLD THAT MAKES TEL stops making it at their aging plant IN ENGLAND. The US doesn't even control the source of TEL. There is no future in making TEL, it is a declining market all over the world in the few countries that still allow it. It is also possible that the refineries will just stop making 100 LL, it is a declining market too and is an insignificant blip in their total output. If the few refineries that make it said no more IT WOULDN'T SHOW UP ON THE BOTTOM LINE OF THEIR ANNUAL REPORTS.

Posted by: Dean Billing | February 10, 2010 2:27 PM    Report this comment

Dean... thanks. You make a compelling & logical economic argument. But ,when government gets involved logic is useless... think tobacco. The government effectively banned it in the 1970s, but 25% of "We the People" still use it. Why? Politics, money and fear of "We the People".

I hope these guys are on to the real deal. Learning from Experience: Wife (also a pilot) & I are driving 3 SAABs right now. SAABs, are not the best of breed. My SAABs are 1000x more reliable that my 1967 Beech A23-24. Why? Technology... has actually advanced. I spend ~1 hour maintenance for every ~15 hours of flight time on the Beech. That's after I fired every A&P within reasonable distance and started doing my own work.

Bottom Line: Proven technology is the answer, government red tape and bureaucracy is the problem... I don't believe we, as pilots/owners are out to kill ourselves and others as the government seems to believe. We need to quit focusing on failures and focus on the success. If I want to fly with G100UL, I need the freedom to fly up to ADA, sign a waiver with Gami... and go flying. I already use their injectors although I was warned, by the "FAA is God" crowd, that it would destroy my engine and kill us.

Posted by: David Spencer | February 10, 2010 5:18 PM    Report this comment

Let's see now. My engines on my airplane are rated for 2000 hours. Put this wonder gas on this engine on a test stand and let's get at it. About 80 days later if the darn thing hasn't blown up it must be OK. End of case.....and please everyone don't start all the what ifs. We all know that most of it is a bunch of bureaucratic gunk.

Posted by: Stuart Baxter | February 10, 2010 7:36 PM    Report this comment

About 80 days later if the darn thing hasn't blown up it must be OK. End of case...<<

Well, not exactly. You really do want to test the stuff in real field conditions in very hot weather, in very cold weather, in wet weather. See if seals and hoses hold up okay, see if it works as well in carbureted engines as in injected engines. Store it in composite tanks.

But all all of that is reasonably doable in a short period of time. If I were making the decision, I would issue an all-models STC, let the owners participate on an own risk basis and run a large scale test for a year.

Further, I'd either dump or amend the ASTM process. It takes too long and in a world where the Chinese are eating our lunch, we need faster, better and more competitive processes.

But in aviation, as in any manufacturing, hubris can be an expensive habit. No matter how fervently you believe yourself to be right, you can be wrong.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 11, 2010 5:37 AM    Report this comment

The last few comments really make me smile. I am an engineer, have been licensed for 35 years this June and I have known about ASTM for 45. I also know why the process is so glacial and the cavalier attitude is humorous. Paul, you come closest to the truth; all engines are not created equal, especially in aviation. Be very careful what you ask for.

Posted by: JAMES GRANT | February 11, 2010 7:43 AM    Report this comment

"Eventually if you want to bring the product to market, you need to kill all the engineers." Anon

Posted by: Stuart Baxter | February 11, 2010 8:07 AM    Report this comment

We live in a culture that accepts that new products will have bugs and they can be fixed with a Service Pack. Do you really want that approach to be taken with your avgas? Witness Toyota's pain...real people have died.

Posted by: JAMES GRANT | February 11, 2010 8:52 AM    Report this comment

Lycoming and Continental covering their butts, and approvals from the bureaucrats.... We are screwed. What we need is a bubble in the price of scrap aluminum.

Posted by: Art Ahrens | February 11, 2010 9:42 AM    Report this comment

Eveyrone inclusive GAMI should be applauded for working to solve the lead inssue on 100 octane AVGAS.

However the rest of the world is not sleeping. Read this article in the Eurocontrol, EBAA and IAOPA 2009 yearbook and start to ask questions?

That 100 UL fuel flew already in 2006!

By the way there is an ASTM D910 unleaded AVGAS in production since 1991, i.e. 19 years, flown in thousands of aircraft for millions of flight hours and already approved by piston engine aircraft manufacturers covering > 90 % of the entire pistone engine aircraft in the world, from Continental, Lycoming, Rotax to heavy radials such like Kalisz, the Hjelmco AVGAS 91/96 UL (meeting leaded grade 91/98 in ASTM D 910). This fuel is cheaper at the pump than 100 LL and has always been for the 19 years it has been available at 70+ airports in Sweden.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 12, 2010 7:07 AM    Report this comment

This seems to be a closely guarded secret here in the US. Why do we generally not know about this fuel?

Posted by: Stuart Baxter | February 12, 2010 7:30 AM    Report this comment

Stuart - such a question should be put to thoose that control the information flow in the US.

For the Hjelmco AVGAS 91/96 UL fuel see Continental recognition: For Lycoming recognition: For Rotax recognition: see page 9 For Kalisz 1050HP radials see: EASA approval EC 1359.

For the 100 LL replacement fuel based on ETBE the entire inner circle in the US working on a future 100 UL knows about it. see also the thick reports published by the Swiss Civil Aviation Authority in 2007: There are 5+ appendicies you can download of 15 mb+ in size.

I am doing my best also to inform the world and there are more to read on the Hjelmco webbpages.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 12, 2010 8:22 AM    Report this comment

It is interesting that the letter to Mr Hjelmberg from Continental admits, on the record, that some overhaul shops do as good a job as Continental.

Posted by: Justin Graff | February 12, 2010 9:26 AM    Report this comment

If anyone thinks that the parameters are going to change in the near future regarding certification of avgas, you’re living in a dream world. Whether it’s the FAA, EPA, ASTM or engine manufactures, they all have one thing in common… keeping the public, in the air or on the ground, safe. All the fore mentioned must protect themselves from future liability as much as possible. That requires doing so under current certification guidelines. Like it or not, these parameters are not going to change before the time runs out on leaded avgas. So stop your whining about how ridiculous the requirements are now (and they are) and accept that eliminating lead from avgas will be done only with the satisfaction of those involved with the current certification requirements. Realistically, eliminating lead in the near future and changing those certification requirements, have nothing to do with one another. And if you want to hold your breath until changes in the certification process occurs, make sure you have someone near you with an oxygen bottle to bring you back to consciousness and reality. :)

Posted by: GREGORY MORTON | February 13, 2010 11:39 AM    Report this comment

>>they all have one thing in common… keeping the public, in the air or on the ground, safe<<

Well, I consider that view a little naive. My slightly more cynical take on it is that the agencies involved are mostly concerned with maintaining the status quo and protecting turf. If safety is consistent with that, well, bravo. If they can avoid liability, better yet.

For the commercial interests in the equation--mainly refineries as distinguished from oil companies in general--profit motive runs high, as well it should. Why would a business sign up to make something less profitable than it already is? With no teeth in lead regulation, there's little reason to phase out 100LL.

The larger view that things are just not going to change so get used to it is probably accurate and fair. In my view, however, it's the prime reason we are rapidly evolving into a second-class economy. China is eating our lunch on the world wind turbine market and green energy in general. It's too bad. We used to know how to compete.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 13, 2010 12:11 PM    Report this comment

>>I consider that view a little naďve<<

As do a lot of us. But then how better to justify all the bureaucracy and antiquated requirements associated with the current certification process, but with “public safety!” They may feel… “If it ain’t broke…” and all indicators seem to say otherwise, why would they make knee jerk changes by way of the aviation community, (which is exactly what they should consider) the community which has to abide by their decisions? As you said,”mostly concerned with maintaining the status quo and protecting turf”. And don’t tell us how to manage our agency/s. China… As of now, their working class has not evolved to BMW’s & MB’s, so cheap labor is still very much available and that won’t change much in the near future. So, unfortunately it won’t be a level playing field in the world market economies for quite a while, if ever, including the turbine market. It’s very hard to compete with a cheap, disposable, foreign economy such a China. Did you notice I left out QUALITY? So my previous post was not that changes are not needed, but the rules won’t be changed anytime soon in regards to the current removal of lead in avgas, and that all “new fuels “, have no choice at this time, but to deal with the current certification process. Sad as it is.

Posted by: GREGORY MORTON | February 13, 2010 1:34 PM    Report this comment

Mr Greg Morton has several valuable points. But everyone has to ask himself the questions: Does it have to be in this way and is it in our advantage? If these conservative positions are valid for the lead issue -- what is GA really missing when the same agencies and people have conservative positions in other issues. Isn,t development and new products advantageous for us? One Leaded fuel in an else unleaded fuel world costs money, and a lot and this is what we aviation consumers have to pay. Are we willing to do so? Here a link to a POWERPOINT PRESENTATION I made in 2004. Among others it presents facts from a presentation made by the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority for the FAA in Brussels in 1999.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 14, 2010 4:45 AM    Report this comment

"True" general aviation is almost dead- not necessarily the commercial sector, but pilots such as myself who fly for business, challenge, and enjoyment. I am a physican and make a good income, but $7.00 a gallon will end my flying career, and I suspect will bankrupt the majority of general aviation FBO's in this country. It therefore doesn't seem like such a "wonderful" creation to me, and tickles my "conspiracy bone" just a little. It just seems, with a biofuel option becoming viable, this is the pertroleum industry's opportunity to ride the current political disaster into a huge profit while essentially eliminating cheaper and more environmentally-friendly biofuels; 2 birds with one stone, QED. Why isn't there some pressure by AOPA, etc to make fuel more affordable??!! AS Lineberger

Posted by: ADRIAN LINEBERGER | February 14, 2010 11:03 AM    Report this comment

AOPA has always favored the rich business aviation market. I have received an email from them explaining that flying is for the upper income brackets. This is obvious from the advertising content of their mags. It is easier for AOPA to go after the government (which they do a commendable job at by the way) and if they were to go after the FBOs they would be losing a major source of their income base. I would expect more activity from the EAA folks. (Yes, I am an AOPA member) If my vocation was not in aviation, my aircraft would be on the market now.

Posted by: Art Ahrens | February 14, 2010 11:11 AM    Report this comment

There is an important point about costs of the fuel. Currently the price for unleaded AVGAS 91/96 UL in Sweden is around USD 1,30 per liter or approx 5 USD/US gallon + taxes. Leaded AVGAS 100 LL is about 10 % more expensive. Unleaded AVGAS in Sweden at the pump has been cheaper than leaded AVGAS 100 LL all the time since introduction in 1981, i.e. for 29 years. So the fact is an unleaded AVGAS must NOT be more expensive than an leaded AVGAS. The pump price is very much dependable on the competition and distribution costs.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | February 14, 2010 11:26 AM    Report this comment

Yes, we will see $7 a gallon avgas - right behind $6 a gallon mogas! That being said, GA's future WILL be unleaded. If we want avgas at the same price as mogas, we're going to have to figure out how to burn 87 octane, ethanol blended mogas. It definitely has problems, but should be possible.

Posted by: Josh Johnson | February 14, 2010 4:50 PM    Report this comment

I still believe biofuels (Swift) are the answer- environmentally and cost-wise. There is just not the infrastructure in place (or interest) to develop a relaible supply source, so we will live with a depleting & unrenewable petroleum product until the last hydrocarbon is coaxed out of the planet!

Posted by: ADRIAN LINEBERGER | February 14, 2010 5:48 PM    Report this comment

This thread has gone on long enough for me. I would cancel the instruction "E-mail me when new comments are posted" without bothering you all again but there seems to be no way to cancel notification without posting another message. Sorry, folks.

Posted by: RICK TAVAN | February 14, 2010 6:25 PM    Report this comment

Thanks to Mr. Helmburg for his comments. Signing off

Posted by: Justin Graff | February 14, 2010 6:59 PM    Report this comment

signing off also.

Posted by: Stuart Baxter | February 14, 2010 7:26 PM    Report this comment

I have heard a rumor floating around that GAMI may be using a Swift product to create this fuel. The Swift fuel is apparently a mixture of high octane hydrocarbons which can be derived from Bio-Mass. Being involved in the Chemical industry for many years, it is likely that these hydrocarbons can be derived from petroleum as well (at a high cost). Rumor has it that GAMI is utilizing some of these hydrocarbons, perhaps the same ones that Swift is working with, and mixing it with a lower octane gasoline base stock. Does anyone have any more information on this? If this rumor is indeed true, I wonder what kind of patent issues this G100UL will run into. For what it is worth, I do think that disconnecting aviation from petroleum is a good thing, especially when oil prices skyrocket once the economy turns around, and aviation gasoline prices become out of reach for many flyers.

Posted by: Greg McMillian | February 17, 2010 5:06 PM    Report this comment

If rumors are valid, I would question the integrity and character of those involved at GAMI? Reminds me of the cheerleader's mom that wants her daughter on the team and will do whatever it takes to get her on the squad or the marathon runner that sneaks into the race at the last mile for the win. Very sad.

Posted by: GREGORY MORTON | February 19, 2010 8:01 AM    Report this comment

If rumors are valid, I would question the integrity and character of those involved at GAMI?<<

Why is that, exactly? This is a company with a proven track record in GA, one that has generally delivered on its promise while accumulating an excellent customer service history.

Why would you question its integrity?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 19, 2010 12:47 PM    Report this comment

Paul, If you read my comments regarding these rumors carefully, they did not refer to GAMI, the company, but only to those individuals that may have, as rumored, infringed on Swift’s patent. So my comments were based on “if” it is true that there is a patent infringement, those individuals at GAMI could have questionable character and or integrity. But let’s not get too serious about rumors until the facts are known. I do find it interesting though, that after not hearing about G100UL at all, from anyone in the aviation industry, that at light speed someone has developed an unleaded fuel to replace 100LL in a matter of what seems to be only months. I must say the parameters in which the individuals at GAMI accomplished this feat, are most remarkable! Am I the only one very suspicious of how this fuel came to be and in such a short period of time?

Posted by: GREGORY MORTON | February 19, 2010 8:26 PM    Report this comment

Paul, I guess Embry-Riddle isn't amongst those "industry insiders" feeling burnt by Swift! Reported in AVweb: Embry-Riddle Tests Biofuel For Switch To "Green Fleet"

Posted by: GREGORY MORTON | February 23, 2010 1:19 PM    Report this comment

Sorry, I ment to leave this link with previous post regarding Embry-Riddle and Swift.

Posted by: GREGORY MORTON | February 23, 2010 1:44 PM    Report this comment

signing off again to stop getting messages.

Posted by: Stuart Baxter | February 23, 2010 5:05 PM    Report this comment


Evidently. But rather than cast sinister aspersions,call up GAMI and ask them. They are quite transparent. That way you will be informed rather than suspicious. GAMI: 580-436-4833. Let us know what you learn.

As for ERAU, happy to see them do this. But right now, all we have is...a press release.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 23, 2010 8:09 PM    Report this comment

Paul, let us let the facts, whatever they are, evolve and speak for themselves. I have no idea if the rumors regarding Swift patent infringements are true. Let’s not lose sight at this time, that they are ONLY RUMORS. Also, my gut feeling tells me, asking the “accused?” if they are guilty, is somewhat futile. If you hear any developments on this subject please let us know. Thank you Paul

Posted by: GREGORY MORTON | February 23, 2010 9:46 PM    Report this comment

Nothing but praise for GAMI - I don't think any aspersions should be cast their way. It makes me want to buy shares in em, if only to show my support! Also, I agree with shutting this thread now.

Posted by: John Hogan | February 23, 2010 10:15 PM    Report this comment

It seems to me that GAMI is taking regular auto fuel putting some additives in it and calling it the next generation Avgas, I’ve used auto fuel in my plane with no problems. To me this is not a solution but an appeasement to EPA. On the other hand Swift is creating Avgas from saw grass and have a product that meets and exceeds FAA spec. Currently being tested at Embry Riddle , now this sounds like a solution an American product being produced and distributeted by Americans, yes this is what I would be in favor of. Current cost is $60.00 a gal but they say if mass produced the cost could be less than $2.00 a gal again an American product at a competitive price. Probably all that is needed is to get Government out of its way

Posted by: Bill Wade | February 24, 2010 8:05 AM    Report this comment

I've met the folks from Swift. They are a stunningly capable group. If anybody can pull it off, these guys can. I'll also echo the above comments, $7 Avgas is out of the question. In fact, our private flight department (6 aircraft, owned by a billionaire) was literally brought to it's knees by the high fuel prices of a few years ago. We never recovered. $500 top-off's are out of the question when flying single engine piston aircraft. While energy prices (of any sort) generally rise and fall together, it's possible that Swift fuel could be somewhat insulated from market swings.

Posted by: Chris Cuneo | February 24, 2010 10:44 AM    Report this comment

After reading all these comments, I cannot believe that there is no mention of the alcohol that prevents the majority of airplane owners from simply using 91 octane auto fuel. There are STC's galore for this fuel for the majority of the general aviation fleet, yet we are unable to use the STC because of the politically correct alcohol garbage that is legislated into auto fuel. (Corrosive, attracts water, etc. etc.) This stuff eats fiberglass, and fuel systems, so people that have older boats and antique cars have major problems with it. A few states have removed the alcohol from the 91 octane, but in most states there is not enough pressure on the legislative bodies from the groups that could benefit.

Posted by: TERRY VAN BLARICOM | February 25, 2010 11:03 AM    Report this comment

Dean Billings mentioned using mogas. Unfortunately, even for aircraft with lower compression engines that are STC'ed for mogas, the FAA issued a prohibition against using it a year or two ago. This is because it is virtually impossible to buy mogas anymore that does not contain ethanol. Due to ethanol attracting water, there is the danger of phase separation, where the water/ethanol combination separates out and migrates to the bottom of the tank as the aircraft climbs to altitude and the fuel gets colder.

So I have several questions. For the airports that sell mogas, is it a 92UL that is separate and different from car gas that contains ethanol? And has the FAA lifted their restriction on the use of mogas with ethanol, or is it still in place?

Several years ago I remember reading articles on Avweb (by Jim Deakin, I think) talking about how 96UL would be relatively easily achievable by just continuing the refining process past what is used to produce 92UL. And that this 96UL would be good enough for anything that was 8.5/1 compression or lower. Were these suppositions practical or accurate?

Posted by: George True | August 17, 2010 6:50 PM    Report this comment

George - "Dean Billings mentioned using mogas. Unfortunately, even for aircraft with lower compression engines that are STC'ed for mogas, the FAA issued a prohibition against using it a year or two ago."

The FAA has NEVER issued a prohibition against using mogas without ethanol. Provide documentation?

There is still mogas without ethanol being produced, for about one more year unless you do something about it.

If you are looking for ethanol free mogas,

All mogas sold ON AIRPORTS is ethanol free and there are still more than 100 airports selling mogas. It is sold at both the 87 AKI and 91+ AKI level.

Posted by: Dean Billing | November 1, 2010 12:55 PM    Report this comment

George - "Dean Billings mentioned using mogas. Unfortunately, even for aircraft with lower compression engines that are STC'ed for mogas, the FAA issued a prohibition against using it a year or two ago."

The FAA has NEVER issued a prohibition against using mogas without ethanol. Provide documentation?

There is still mogas without ethanol being produced, for about one more year unless you do something about it.

If you are looking for ethanol free mogas,

All mogas sold ON AIRPORTS is ethanol free and there are still more than 100 airports selling mogas. It is sold at both the 87 AKI and 91+ AKI level.

Posted by: Dean Billing | November 1, 2010 12:55 PM    Report this comment

Loose weight after pregnancy? Hopefully Paul will see this and remove the spam!

Posted by: DAVID KALWISHKY | November 1, 2010 6:44 PM    Report this comment

GAMI's UL fuel does a lot of things, Dave, but (so far as we know) it can't help you lose weight. As you guessed he would, Paul's already beat us to the punch and deleted it.

Whenever you guys and gals run across a spam comment on the blog, please take a moment to click the "report abuse" link and let us know. As soon as we see it, we'll delete the offending comment and start working on getting the user who posted it banned from commenting.

Thanks for the help!

Scott Simmons webmaster

Posted by: Scott Simmons | November 2, 2010 5:33 PM    Report this comment

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