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EPA Leaves GA Hanging On Avgas

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For an organization as media savvy as the Environmental Protection Agency appears to be, its performance on the issue of lead in aviation gasoline would be laughable if it wasn't so infuriating.

Granted, there's no Love Canal on the horizon with the relatively small amount of lead (140,000 tons since aviation was born) airplanes have loosed to the atmosphere (followed quite quickly by the ground, mostly right around airports, lead being what it is and that's heavy). Indeed, EPA representative Glenn Passavant, who the agency has tasked with the microscopic issue (when compared with say, the millions of gallons of horribly toxic glycol flushed down sewers from airliner de-icing each year ) of explaining its position on 100 LL seemed to be minimizing its importance when he spoke at a seminar at AOPA Summit last week.

Well, as tiny as it is in EPA's grand scheme, the fate of leaded aviation fuel looms large to some people and it's worthy of adequate representation from the agency. So, when Passavant, who, as far as I know, is the first EPA employee to directly address pilots on this issue, declined my request for a one-on-one interview last Friday I was dumbfounded. He was fine to deliver a PowerPoint presentation (of which he didn't have extra copies) and field, with varying degrees of effectiveness in my opinion, questions from the pilots in the room, but when it came time to speak, through AVweb, to those who couldn't make it to Long Beach, he refused. He said media requests had to go through the communications department in Washington.

So, we jumped through that hoop and were ultimately referred to the agency's Web site, which in no way answers the questions I wanted to ask Passavant. For instance, when a pilot suggested the elimination of lead in aviation fuel by the EPA was a "foregone conclusion," which virtually everyone in aviation believes is true, why did he take such pains to dispel that notion? I also wanted to know why there is no timeline. How does that help us plan? Are we OK to dither and gab and generally do nothing for five years, 10 years, 40 years or is the hammer going to drop in six months?

Something that's interesting to note is that Passavant, who heads EPA's "non road" department, wasn't always so closed-mouth. He was downright forthcoming in an interview with GA News a year ago, in which he suggested that eliminating lead altogether might not be necessary.

"No one says we must go to a zero lead fuel," GA News quotes him as saying. "If there are going to be multi-billion dollar effects, there must be another way to do it. Let's come up with a creative solution." It would be interesting to know what Friends of the Earth, whose petition launched the current discussion, has to say about that.

The comment may actually explain why Passavant is no longer free to speak to the media. But if he can't, the EPA should make sure it sends along someone who can keep him out of trouble when he's out in public. These are serious issues worth, as he suggests, billions of dollars, not to mention tens of thousands of jobs and the personal investment of hundreds of thousands of people. They deserve more than a "no comment" when the questions can't be answered from the script.

Comments (68)

Well if the same Government agencies did not push Ethanol, we'd already have a solution for 80% of the piston aircraft! That's infuriating.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 17, 2010 8:02 AM    Report this comment

Mark Fraser, you beat me to it. The EPA has indeed mismanaged ethanol's use in fuels, which is a hazard to millions of pilots, boaters, power tool users, etc. Read the comments on the ethanol-free petition for evidence; they are sobering: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/keep-pure-gas/ Are their no consequences for unelected bureaucrats whose ambivalence destroys property, leads to unemployment and costs lives? What a mess.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 17, 2010 2:01 PM    Report this comment

I was at that forum at Long Beach. There was virtually no concern or sensitivity to COST – which is really the only issue of significant interest to aviators. I think we can trust the industry to stand firm on safety and other concerns.

TCM and Lyc should care deeply about cost, because it will dramatically affect their future business. EPA should care about cost because they are our high-paid servants. Most of all, AOPA (which moderated the forum!) should be shouting cost from the rooftops! Instead, I think they are all acting in panic and focused almost exclusively on identifying a single acceptable solution – any solution. None of the panel showed concern about cost!

An audience question related to the potential for a monopoly fuel solution – read COSTLY! The panel’s reactions were nothing less than pathetic!

Posted by: James Herd | November 17, 2010 8:52 PM    Report this comment

Russ Niles, how about featuring some of the other significant comments at that event? Such as John Franks urging for a mogas-based fuel solution to keep it fully compatible with the massive mogas fuel pipeline, which is 200 times larger than the avgas demand. In other words, it would be less COSTLY than some new exotic and incompatible base stock.

And perhaps you could comment on TCM & Lyc taking the position that they can’t do much until THE fuel solution is chosen. And they seemed to say they also aren’t interested without guarantees that the new fuel will be exclusive. They called it “demand forecast”.

The industry needs to quit flailing and define a crisp & bold mission statement with COST at the forefront.

Posted by: James Herd | November 17, 2010 8:58 PM    Report this comment

It is not the government's job to solve GA's lead problem. It is the government's job to prosecute polluters. The GA community needs to sort its act out.

Posted by: Brian McCulloch | November 18, 2010 5:28 AM    Report this comment

It's the Government's "job" because the FAA is Government. It's the FAA alone that has stifled innovation, added costs, and regulated fuel. The problem is actually solved if Government stopped doing what Government does!

As far as polluters, the Federal Government is probably the worst since it EXEMPTS itself from pollution laws. Federal vehicles don't even get emission tested.

GA is not even a blip on the radar for pollution and is insignificant even when compared to military and commercial aviation. Perhaps only Brian McCulloch needs to sort his act out?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 18, 2010 7:08 AM    Report this comment

James Herd, I'd like to speak with you and John Franks on Mogas offline, kmisegades@bellsouth.net

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 18, 2010 8:11 AM    Report this comment

It is disappointing that the EPA wasn’t willing to grant AvWeb an interview, but it is even more disappointing that no one in the aviation press has interviewed anyone from Friends of the Earth. This is the organization that is pushing for the elimination of lead and is petitioning the EPA. Maybe I have missed it, but I can’t remember AvWeb, AOPA, or EAA every interviewing them.

Posted by: Ryan Turner | November 18, 2010 8:22 AM    Report this comment

I have interviewed Friends of Earth. This week, a matter of fact.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 18, 2010 9:12 AM    Report this comment

How about we just push to keep the lead. Any takers?

Posted by: Ryan Lunde | November 18, 2010 9:23 AM    Report this comment

"How about we just push to keep the lead"

Forget about the issues of taking lead out of AvGas. That's a red herring as far as polution. Just take out the damnable Ethanol out of MoGas. That makes the EPA happy and pilots get cheaper fuel. Unfortunately such a simple way to solve most of the "problem" while also benefiting pilots is beyond Government officials...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 18, 2010 9:49 AM    Report this comment

Mark, et al. While it appears that the EPA is now reducing the pressure to replace 100LL, simple economics may kill it off sooner. Consumption was below 200 mgy in 2009, not the 300 mgy that has been reported, and is dropping by 7mgy. All this data may be found here: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=C400000001&f=A

100LL represents less than 0.2% of vehicle fuels. Using Mogas represents one of the few instances where aviation can benefit from the advantages of large-scale production for non-aviation purposes. To ignore this option is not only illogical, it is irresponsible if one is at all concerned about the survival of sport aviation and much of G.A. No one is saying that Mogas should be the only fuel at our airports, but we are saying that 100LL and its replacement should not be. America's historically strong economy has been based on choice and free markets, which should apply also to our fuels.

The EPA has put itself in a bind by not calling on Congress to modify the increasing production ethanol mandates in the EISA 2007/RFS act. Consumers are already reporting widespread damage to engines and even loss of life on our Mogas petition. Reading the comments is quite sobering - one wonders if the unelected bureaucrats whose decisions could end this bother to read them, http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/keep-pure-gas/

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 18, 2010 10:07 AM    Report this comment

TEL is going to stay in 100 octane AVGAS because it is the safest and cheapest alternative, PERIOD. There is NO PROOF that it is harming the public to any significant degree. How can 1/1000th the amount of TEL now being used, compared past usage, be significant? But, if we are unwilling to fight the eco-fascist bullies we don't deserve to have fuel. Remember, the ecology movement is 95% religion and 5% science.

Posted by: ARTHUR THOMPSON | November 18, 2010 10:17 AM    Report this comment

While I think the 100LL issue is little more than an EPA witch hunt, I support ending 100LL production (once a true alternative is available) because a lead-free avgas should be cheaper than 100LL is now. Segregating leaded fuels means added storage and transportation costs which we end up paying for at the pump. The caveat now is the reduced use of an already boutique fuel might make the economic argument for us.

Posted by: Will Alibrandi | November 18, 2010 10:29 AM    Report this comment

Agree, Kent. Economy of scale. We have a solution that is not only cheaper but makes the EPA look good(no Ethanol or TEL to spill). Get the FAA bless it and we're done.

Sure, keep 100LL for the 20% of less of the planes that need it. Getting rid of 80% of it "should" please the eco group enough to shut up about any possible harm to anyone.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 18, 2010 10:52 AM    Report this comment

Mark, you probably know that the FAA blessed Mogas in the late 1980s when the EAA and Petersen Aviation gained approvals for Mogas STCs after a Herculean effort that has been largely forgotten. 25 years of successful, safe use has proven that the FAA made the right decision. Too bad the aviation alphabet groups don't see things the same way but remain determined to force a one-size-fits-all solution on all of us. Pilots however will make the ultimate best decision regardless.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 18, 2010 10:59 AM    Report this comment

I have that STC on both of my airplanes already. As said I've used it for a decade too without any problems at all. The STC's are now useless because of the EPA (Ethanol).

Now the EPA is once again following Politics instead of Science to make it harder to operate. The only solution the EPA has is to ignore us. The FAA is no help either.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 18, 2010 11:10 AM    Report this comment

I was sitting in the front row and recorded every word Passavant said. Leaving aside the disaster of ethanol (corn rising from $2 to $5.40 a bushel and a 50 cent per gallon incentive bonus for a fuel that does not work)and whether leaded avgas truly is a health hazard--seems more than coincidental that the NAAQS lowered the allow lead level by an order of magnitude the year before FOE petitioned the EPA--Passavant did say that "there's no specific time line" for EPA to make the final finding of endangerment. He also said that, "in the course of the next several years...we want to move in an orderly, fact-based manner so when we do make a determination of the data there's a good fact-based process and a way to resolve it." Passavant also said that any citizen can petition the EPA for a determination on how a product affects public health. Sounds like we need to petition this agency for a determination on how using food crops and a large supply of water to produce a fuel that doesn't work very well affects public health. Even a casual study of the facts shows that this boondoggle is a financial disaster and a misuse of public funds. Passavant also said within the next couple months an "unleaded avgas transition rule-making committee" will begin forming. It's a publich process and interested parties can be part of the process. Posting rants about how crappy the gummint is on forums like this doesnt' accomplish much. Who's going to step up for membership on the committee?

Posted by: Steve Ells | November 18, 2010 12:01 PM    Report this comment

"It's a public process and interested parties can be part of the process"

No, the EPA has no elected officials and (as seen Dec 2009) is perfectly willing to ignore public comment and release and edict. The FAA is equally an edict releasing machine since 9/11.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 18, 2010 12:26 PM    Report this comment

Mogas is a non-solution. 70% of avgas consumption requires 100 octane.

Posted by: Paul Hekman | November 18, 2010 12:34 PM    Report this comment

Steve - there are numerous comments on the Mogas petition citing major damage, engine failures, and even loss of life due to ethanol in fuels. Wonder why the EPA has not dealt with this.

Paul - while there is no hard evidence of the 70%, 100LL fuel sales are tiny compared to the real money-maker for airports, Jet-A. We lost another seven FBOs last month who decided that 100LL wasn't worth it. What is true is that 70%-80% of all piston airplanes will run on 91 octane ethanol-free Mogas, and for a lot less money than 100LL. And they'd have lower maintenance probems now caused by lead fouling. These Mogas burners though would pay the same hangar rent, keep maintenance shops alive, and provide low-cost flying G.A. so desperately needs so we don't just become a bunch of old dudes talking about the way things used to be. We need two fuels, 100 octane and Premium gas. It does not have to be one-size-fits-all.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 18, 2010 12:47 PM    Report this comment

Consumption does not require 100 octane. GA planes are forced to consume 100 octane even though their engines require less. Very few engines actually "require" 100 octane.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 18, 2010 12:51 PM    Report this comment

Mark,

Maybe. But you do not KNOW this. Have you actually been involved in the research? Much of what is claimed as fact just means that an aviation writer of limited technical ability (or no technical ability) writes an article. Once something is in print it tends to become "fact". I have contacted the EAA man researching this, Doug McNair, and the conclusion I get is that TEL really is a "magic" ingredient and getting high octane without it is going to very difficult and, I imagine, very expensive. For instance 87 octane MOGAS is really just 82 octane using the motor method (as opposed to the combo research and motor method on the gas pump)which Doug says is what counts for aviation engines.

Posted by: ARTHUR THOMPSON | November 18, 2010 1:05 PM    Report this comment

"Have you actually been involved in the research?"

Thank you for asking. Yes I have done research in the oil industry. I've also done hands-on engine building and fuel system design work. Yes, I KNOW this stuff after 35 years.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 18, 2010 1:13 PM    Report this comment

Arthur, the EAA and Petersen Aviation did VERY extensive research and costly testing of dozens of aircraft and engines in order to satisfy the FAA in their efforts in the 1980s to gain STCs for Mogas. This has been all well documented. I suggest you call Todd Petersen for all the details, www.autofuelstc.com This EAA article describes the effort, too, which was Herculean since the FAA very picky, so I have been told by those who worked on the effort. How soon we all forget.... http://www.eaa.org/experimenter/articles/009904_PaulsPick.pdf

BTW - Mogas contains 3%-5% more BTUs per gallon than 100LL, something rarely mentioned.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 18, 2010 1:25 PM    Report this comment

But the problem in discussing octane is which octane, motor or research? Years ago, when I was a teenager I looked into this for my pinging with modified 50 Ford but that's about my technical limit. However, the impression I got from Doug Mcnair of the EAA is that 94 octane MOGAS is not going to mean 94 octane AVGAS equivalent. If we take the TEL out of 100LL it seems that other stuff needs to be done also. So we will probably add chemicals that are more toxic than the lead we took out.

TEL is totally proven to be a safe fuel and the enviro damge is totally unproven.

Posted by: ARTHUR THOMPSON | November 18, 2010 1:40 PM    Report this comment

It's more complicated than that. There are two primary octane rating procedures, RON and MON. At gas pumps in the U.S., an average of the two is used, ie AKI = (RON+MON)/2. Airplane engines, for the most part, use the MON procedure. It is not correct to equate the 91 AKI octane of premium Mogas to the 100 MON octane of 100LL. But all this has been taken into account when an engine's TC or STC is issued by the FAA. The paperwork is very specific about which octane rating system is being used. Have look at the EAA article I cite above - it describes all the testing that went into gaining Mogas STCs a long time ago. If anything, Mogas has improved in many ways since, then, as long as it is ethanol-free.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 18, 2010 1:46 PM    Report this comment

Octane is not a problem in slow turning, low compression airplane engines. 100UL or Premium MoGas is overkill as far as octane. Read the Petersen STC before you say that "more stuff needs to be done".

Now if you have a very high compression or turbocharged airplane engine then Octane is an issue. The OBVIOUS SOLUTION is to "blend leaded fuel on the fly" for those planes just as midgrade gasoline is blended on the fly at the local gas stations. My goodnes, if the technology is available off-the-shelf for cheap then it's a non-issue to blend a leaded tank of gas with the unleaded that everyone else would use. You don't need special separate tanks because no one getting MoGas would care if there was trace lead fuel too.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 18, 2010 1:54 PM    Report this comment

The 20% of the GA piston fleet that cannot use Mogas or another sub-100 octane equivalent fuel buy most (80%) of the fuel. As has been pointed out, avgas is a small and declining market. It will not support a multi-fuel solution. Splintering GA on this issue will force those who can afford it to transition to JetA and those who cannot will be restricted to aircraft that can run on a lower octane fuel. The high performance piston aircraft and the commerce it entails will cease to exist. So I agree, let market forces determine the solution without government interference. But I think the market force that will prevail is that of the fuel refining and delivery infrastructure.

Posted by: Jonathan Sisk | November 18, 2010 2:07 PM    Report this comment

Jonathan - it is a Catch-22. Yours is a valid argument. However if the 70%-80% of those who prefer to use cheaper Mogas are forced to use 100LL or its equally expensive replacement, and deal with the higher maintenance costs caused by lead deposits, it will continue to erode the foundations of G.A. If 100UL costs substantially more (and few expect it to be cheaper), the problem gets worse. People will continue to leave G.A. for other hobbies. When half the hangars at GA fields go empty and maintenance shops close, that's the end of airports for all. I'd love to see an affordable 100 octane fuel for as long as we need it. But the future of GA is in aircraft powered by next-gen engines designed for Premium Mogas or Jet-A, that's reality.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 18, 2010 2:15 PM    Report this comment

"It will not support a multi-fuel solution."

The entire auto industry is multi fueled based on octane. Tanker delivery trucks all have multiple compartments. Gas stations all have at least 2 tanks. Delivery pumps for users can draw from 2 separate tanks and even from both at once. 20% of the vehicles require high octane and 80% are just fine on lower octane.

Such hardware for blending on-the-fly is the NORMAL WAY gasoline is being sold in the country today. Leave it to Aviation people to think that using off-the-shelf proven technology is unsupportable...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 18, 2010 2:21 PM    Report this comment

and deal with the higher maintenance costs caused by lead deposits, it will continue to erode the foundations of G.A. <<

Kent, all due respect, this a not a significant concern. Running unleaded fuels won't make enough difference in long-term maintenance costs to even be worth a bullet point on the next slide.

Cost, infrastructure and demand frame the only meaningful aspect of this argument for those who can't burn mogas.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 18, 2010 3:04 PM    Report this comment

Paul, all due respect, there are two worlds in G.A. Among the thousands using low compression engines or Rotaxes, lead deposits are a huge problem and safety risk. Read the many comments on the Mogas petition. Check the technical details of the Rotax 900 series for the additional precautions, need for lead scavengers and more frequent oil changes required when 100LL is used instead of Mogas. My annual in 2008 tripled in cost due to a stuck valve in my C-145 engine caused by - you guessed it - lead deposits. I did not have this problem until my local supply of ethanol-free Mogas (Amoco) disappeared and I switched to 100LL. The foundations of G.A. are made up of people who can just barely afford now to keep flying. Push them too far and they leave. Goodbye sport aviators, goodbye EAA, goodbye hundreds of small airports, maintenance shops, flight schools, etc. We see it in NC - half the EAA chapters are dead or near dead. For the first time in years, hangar space is readily available. These are not good signs. Anything that can be done to lower the cost of grassroots aviation needs to be pursued. How can one argue against $3 Mogas?

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 18, 2010 5:33 PM    Report this comment

Kent, you have the strong sport pilot and Rotax orientation, which is fine. But the vast majority of powerplants out there are still of the Continental and Lycoming variety and will be for awhile. They occasionally choke on lead, foul a plug or a valve guide, but this is not nearly enough of an incidence fleetwide to argue that switching to unleaded fuel will make a meaningful difference in costs, other than fuel purchase cost. Rotax, yes. But not the wider fleet. Your petition sample self selects, so it doesn't represent the world at large.

Our IO-360 used to foul one bottom plug about every 300 hours. It also had one sticky valve that may or may not have been caused by lead. I just don't see it as a real issue compared to cost and infrastructure. Nor do we hear this from owners.

I think everyone would love $3 mogas on the field. But frankly, for as much sense as it might make, I'm having trouble believing it will gain wide traction. I hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 18, 2010 8:19 PM    Report this comment

"I just don't see it as a real issue compared to cost and infrastructure."

I believe you have it backwards. The MoGas infrastructure is everywhere and cheap and available. It's the Aviation infrastructure that is the tiny island that has separated itself because of lead. Take that away and Aviation joins the VAST network of suppliers and hardware that already exists.

Forget infrastructure, pilots will bring their own 5 gallon cans and drums to the airport if alcohol free MoGas is available. I know, I used to do it myself. Given a choice between $5 Avgas on the field and $3 MoGas off the field will generate so much traction that 100LL will take a huge drop in it's environmental use. Trust me, GA pilots will buy their own tanks of cheap MoGas if the Fed permits alcohol free MoGas.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 19, 2010 7:57 AM    Report this comment

Mark, the mogas infrastructure on airports does not widely exist. That is why Kent is involved with U-fuel to get it out there. If people could get E0 and fuel from cans in sufficient number to constitute a market, we wouldn't need these palletized fuel systems. But if mogas is to succeed, we do need them.

It's sheer stupidity to think that just because a few people will fuel from cans that a bucket brigade is going make local airports viable. But then, aviation doesn't lack for stupid ideas.

I think the best hope for the return of mogas is a viable E0 market supported by proper fuel facilities where whoever puts them in can make a little money to keep the lights on.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 19, 2010 10:08 AM    Report this comment

"the mogas infrastructure on airports does not widely exist"

It's stupidity to think that GA airports cannot do something that is happening daily at any local Stop-N-Go. Also you DON'T NEED INFRASTRUCTURE if you have a gas truck.

I also do not think it's stupid to want to use my STC for MoGas. That would make flying more "viable" than $5 AvGas or $8 synthetic Swift Fuel.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 19, 2010 11:42 AM    Report this comment

I have an IO-520A that uses 100 octane but, after talking with Michael Kraft of Lycoming, it looks like I could install 7.5:1 pistons and lose about 7% power/efficiency but then use 80 octane fuel. I would definitely consider this power loss for 30% cheaper MOGAS fuel. In my case I could store up to 13,000 gallons on my ranch but 550 gallons is enough. BTW this 7% power loss is about what you get flying a couple of thousnad feet higher.

Posted by: ARTHUR THOMPSON | November 19, 2010 12:39 PM    Report this comment

That's the way it used to be; a ranch or small airport would have MoGas and people would drop in for gas. Again no need for massive infrastructure as long as someone in the area had a pump.

Better yet is a small local airport with a Restaurant and $3/gal MoGas and you quickly develop a community of pilots. Drop in for gas and have lunch with the savings. What a concept.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 19, 2010 12:58 PM    Report this comment

Airports don't make much money now on 100LL, many see it as a service. Significant fuel-related revenue is only in Jet-A sales. Mogas is the same - most airports who now sell it see it has an extra service to keep customers coming to their airports and not going to the guy 20nm away. Mark, what you describe above is the situation at Suffolk, VA. The airport manager told me earlier this year they break even on Mogas but make money on the lunch these folks buy. It keeps the restaurant afloat, and we all know that if you feed them, they will come. 100LL and Mogas fuel sales need to be seen as a non-essential service, just like an AWOS or a parallel taxiway. Just like fuel, these are not necessary, but make an airport more attractive. As far as infrastructure for Mogas goes, it's the same fuel that is in the truck driving past the airport on the way to the local marina. All one needs is a small tank, 2000g-4000g is plenty for most small airfields.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 19, 2010 3:08 PM    Report this comment

That's why I used the Stop-N-Go analogy. They don't make a lot on fuel either but make it up selling coffee and cola. All the small airports with small engined planes can switch to MoGas in a heartbeat. Big airport with big engined twins can keep 100LL (or it's expensive replacement like Swift Fuel. That's logical, easy, and just needs a nudge by the FAA/EPA to make it so.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 19, 2010 3:28 PM    Report this comment

I'm not totally sure I understand the infrastructure problem. Given E0 mogas and a TEL supplement, then the current 100ll tanks could be filled by any delivery tanker. Those that can run on straight mogas will. Those requiring higher octane would have it added at delivery (like Prist in jet fuel) for an additional fee/gallon. The only adaptation required would be the metered mixer for the TEL supplement. Everything else is in place.

Posted by: Peter Buckley | November 20, 2010 5:49 PM    Report this comment

"Infrastrusture" barriers are quite real. But we are all commenting from a vastly inadequate knowledge base, so we all see it as much more simplistic than is the reality.

Avgas is tested and tracked and tested again with a whole bunch of regulatory and traceable paperwork at every step. I suspect there is also training standards for everyone who handles the stuff all through the distribution pipeline. Mogas has none of this. Plus the requirement to physically isolate avgas from mogas - simply because mogas has only a fraction of the regulatory requirements for handling and product specifications.

In the modern world, is this adding value or just CYA for the FAA? I'm all for cutting regulatory red tape, but it sure is nice to be confident that every tank of avgas will perform the same as the others.

We can only make progress on this issue (win) if we fully understand the entire environment, and target our game plan appropriately.

Posted by: James Herd | November 20, 2010 6:20 PM    Report this comment

Those requiring higher octane would have it added at delivery (like Prist in jet fuel) for an additional fee/gallon. <<

What additive did you have in mind, Peter, and is it your idea that this octane enhancer would be squirted into premium mogas at the pump to make an approved fuel for certified aircraft?

Tall order, that, since specs like D910 are all about assuring consistency of performance, not formula. Chain of custody is a bit of a big deal with the oil companies delivering avgas. Distributors are also quite careful in handling and delivering avgas.

I was recently at a refinery making avgas and watched a maintenance worker come out of the lead injection shed with a full-up, fully enclosed hazmat suit on. So having airports handle their own TEL is a non-starter, I think.

As for the infrastructure, assuming one can readily obtain E0, the airport will need a pump system for that and another for 100LL or its replacements, unless is has no local market for 100LL Even if the airport just uses a truck to fetch E0, they'll need the truck. Many airports don't have that--they have self-serve facilities only. So they would need to invest in a second for the E0.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 20, 2010 7:52 PM    Report this comment

Mixing TEL into E0 constitutes a whole new fuel formulation and standard, things that take years to wind their way through testing and committees. Just as ASTM D910 defines 100LL worldwide, so does ASTM D4814 define gasoline worldwide. Gasoline handling, filtering, tracking, regulation, etc. is today more similar to 100LL than in the past. Differences in "quality" and shelf life are mostly a thing of the past too, and 100LL can also be contaminated, contain water, etc. Have a look at the 100LL pump/tank farm at any small GA airport - many belong on the scrap heap compared to what you'll find at any gas station. Most problems attributed to "dirty" gasoline these days are caused by ethanol in the fuel, not the gasoline itself. Modern self-service fuel stations are far more affordable today than in the past, starting at around $40,000, turnkey and installable in a day or two. Adding a 2nd small system for Mogas does not have to come at the expense of the100LL tank and it potentially prolongs the years we'll be allowed to use leaded fuel as long as someone still makes it. The critical aspect for Mogas remains to get the ethanol out of premium gasoline. Sign the petition and pass the word on to the other 20-30 million Americans who need it for their boats, chainsaws, motorcyles, snowmobiles, classic cars, ATVs, etc. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/keep-pure-gas/

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 21, 2010 7:04 AM    Report this comment

Well, at least some people are questioning the environmental BS about the dangers of 100LL to generations yet unborn. There is absolutely no reason to not keep the best and safest high octane fuel, 100LL, forever plus a day. The average farmer deals with vastly more dangerous chemicals routinely. Can you say Parathion? The public support for these environmental militants is a lot less than some of you might imagine. The Birkenstock Brigade can be defeated.

Posted by: ARTHUR THOMPSON | November 21, 2010 9:19 AM    Report this comment

Arthur, I am one of those who questions the blanket claims of health risks and environmental impact of leaded fuels, agricultural chemicals, ozone hole, man-made global warming & global cooling etc. Lots of BS and fear-mongering to go around. It comes down to which battle does one wish to fight? Despite its being a wonderful fuel for many airplanes, 100LL consumption continues to drop by some 7% per year for the past 8 years, and for many reasons, the least of which has to do with potential health risks. With one TEL producer remaining and the number of refiners producing 100LL dwindling too, we have all our eggs in one basket with 100LL. Yes, we must oppose knee-jerk reactions to those worried silly about anything containing lead (sinkers, munition, fuel), but at the same we're wise to prepare for 100LL's demise purely for economic reasons. $3 Mogas is here now for the majority of piston-engine aircraft owners. To ignore it is illogical and irresponsible. But it will not be the solution for those who - for good reasons - need 100 octane fuels.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 21, 2010 10:27 AM    Report this comment

I would love to use cheap MOGAS in my C-210D. Fuel cost is my biggest cost because I do ALL my own maintenance.

First, I am arguing that the tiny amount of TEL in AVGAS is not harming anyone to any significant degree. Do you agree?

Second: The EAA has been trying to find a substitute, according to Doug McNair, and has not found one in 5 years. To talk about the fact that many planes can use MOGAS is irrelevant to the discussion because it's a high octane problem.

I find the one TEL factory argument very unconvincing. In fact it is not even true. TEL is made in India and China. We use one factory for 100LL because that is all we need. Why would we build a second factory? The existence of one TEL AVGAS factory does NOT imply that another factory would not be built if the existing factory decides to pull the plug. If TEL is legal to import, which it is, I am certain that there are many countries which would make and sell it to us if there is a demand. Do you really doubt this?

Does any rational person think that a 100 octane TEL free is going to cost less than 100LL? Want to buy bridge?

Posted by: ARTHUR THOMPSON | November 21, 2010 11:49 AM    Report this comment

Arthur, check out the latest news on Petersen's ADI system, which might allow engines like yours to run on Mogas: http://www.generalaviationnews.com/?p=32170#more-32170

I am not a chemist, don't know whether our tiny consumption of 100LL constitutes a health hazard. I have my doubts. But does that matter much anymore? Our air quality in NC improves from year to year, so what does our state enviro department do? Lower the limits as to what they deem unhealthy. It is a spiral to the bottom with these people.

At AV09, the oil experts claimed to have been looking for a replacement for 19 years, not 5, and they admitted failure. It was a sobering admission and I can recall the many gasps from the large audience. As we have always said, Mogas is not a solution for those who need 100 octane (unless Petersen's ADI can be used), just as 100LL is not a long term solution to maintain a vibrant grassroots to GA. Nor is its equally expensive replacement. You don't need a Ferarri to go to the corner store to buy milk just as you don't need to pay for expensive 100LL in a C85 Conti. We did look into the TEL and 100LL producers in China and were told that these were not legitimate. If they can make it correctly and deliver it to our airports, they should do it. 100 octane TEL free is not a legal fuel. There is more to the ASTM D910 standard for 100LL than only TEL, just as there is more to the new ASTM D7592-2010 standard for 94UL and the existing D4814 standard for Gasoline.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 21, 2010 4:11 PM    Report this comment

TEL is made in India and China.<<

I have heard this claim before and have tried to confirm it with factual evidence. No luck.

Who are these companies? Do you have specific information on this? It's not that I think a single-source of TEL is reason to phase it out, but I'd like to know if it's made elsewhere with factual references.

None of the alphabets are doing any primary research in fuels development. It's all being done in the private sector. The aviation press has been doing stories on this for a lot longer than five or even 19 years. Aviation Consumer first said 100LL was being phased out in 1986. The first CRC committee formed sometime after that.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 22, 2010 5:05 AM    Report this comment

"Many airports don't have that--they have self-serve facilities only. So they would need to invest in a second for the E0."

Paul, It does not have to be a BLANKET conversion from 100LL. That's why I think you're hung up on "infrastructure". Continue with 100LL at whatever market price it has AND also get behind Ethanol free MoGas. It's a win-win. EPA will see usage of 100LL drop and us GA Pilots will flock to airports that have $3/gal MoGas.

We don't even need subsidies. Just loosen the reigns on MoGas and the STC process and then you don't have to worry about infrastructure for MoGas. What will happen is you will start worrying about infrastructure for the expensive 100LL that pilots are NO LONGER FORCED TO USE.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 22, 2010 7:20 AM    Report this comment

Mark Fraser, clearly you "get it" re. Mogas. The infrastructure largely exists, this is not an either-or issue but definitely a win-win-win for 100LL, Mogas and the EPA. A lot of other aviators get it, judging from the comments on the petition, http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/keep-pure-gas/

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 22, 2010 7:27 AM    Report this comment

I'm not hung up on anything, merely making the point that in order to have this fuel, you have to have means of dispensing it. Otherwise, it will never gel as a sustainable market with enough demand to make E0 reliably available.

If airports are interested in doing it, they will. If they're not, they won't and all the grassroots efforts in the world won't make a difference. All I can you is the FBOs I have interviewed the past has expressed lukewarm interest. I'm about to do another survey.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 22, 2010 8:19 AM    Report this comment

Airports that dispense 100LL have "the means" to dispense Mogas. They don't even have to even clean the tanks completely before substituting MoGas.

The only hesitation from FBO's in the past was fear of being sued. If the FAA blesses Unleaded MoGas then all the smaller airports could start selling it to the benefit of GA Pilots.

It's GOOD for GA to have cheaper fuel and it placates the environmental groups too. Heck, the training fleet will immediately benefit if the FAA blessed cheaper MoGas! It's a win-win-win.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 22, 2010 8:39 AM    Report this comment

I would think that FAA-approved STCs for Mogas are all one needs in terms of a "Blessing". Paul, from my experience, you will not find many airport managers who know much about Mogas, unless they fly, which is sadly rare these days. A better survey would be of sport aviators, i.e. those who fly mostly for fun and pay their own bills. You can already count essentially 100% of all LSA-compliant aircraft owners. Note also that Tecnam just received FAA certification of a twin-Rotax, 9GPH Mogas burning four-seat P2006T. Mogas & Rotax is not only about LSA these days.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 22, 2010 9:03 AM    Report this comment

Kent, the STC process is lengthy and costly. If the FAA would just use the existing data from Petersen/EAA to bless usage in low compression GA planes then everything from Piper Cubs, C-195's, C150/172 would benefit immediately. A boost for training and GA owners as well.

Dirty little secret: People used MoGas for years in all kinds of GA planes w/o STC (before Ethanol was introduced).

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 22, 2010 9:17 AM    Report this comment

STCs are out there. Petersen has a pile of them and they aren't expensive. If this is a viable market, you will find it. If not, you won't. Get the reliable E0 supply first.

Surveying the sport aviators is a waste of time. We know they'll go for mogas. What they need to do is show enough demand to the airport to provide it. On my airport, there might be enough...just.

And Mark, many airports that hope to survive can't convert 100LL to mogas, because 100LL represents the larger volume fuel and if you don't have it, the owners will go where an airport does have it. That loses you hangar and tiedown revenue and whatever else those owners bring--like the restaurant revenue that you imagine makes all the money.

At my airport, there are two 100LL dispensers, one Jet A and a truck that does both. Room for mogas? Maybe, but it will take a self-serve tank to do it.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 22, 2010 10:09 AM    Report this comment

Exactly. FBO's that want 100LL stay with 100LL. Small operators at small airports will switch to MoGas and use the same "markup". Pilots benefit and FBO's benefit because pilot swill fly more and burn more gas.

The FAA/EPA with the stroke of a pen can make UL Mogas available and blanket approve those STS's from "supplemental" into approval for all aircraft of those type. That covers most training planes and private small planes. Again, a win-win for GA.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 22, 2010 10:22 AM    Report this comment

There isn't going to be Ethanol-zero fuel. Ethanol subsidies are big business, and big business dependent entirely on government results from big campaign contributions. What's driving the waste of corn stocks in tailpipes is Congressional corruption, and that's not going away. That it's crummy fuel doesn't matter; that the typical Congressman or Senator has a net worth of eight or ten million after six years of a <200k salary is what's at work here.

We can't outbid giant agribusinesses for the votes of "our" Congressmen. Your reform candidate adjusts his course once he gets elected and starts to see where the cash flow is -- it's not always so crass as that, he will have facile rationalizations, but his decisions will always come down on the side that enriches him for some peculiar reason.

Likewise, we can't stop EPA from doing what EPA wants to do. And EPA is staffed with the same hollow-chested, soap-shy, dope-smoking urban dwellers that fetishize an imaginary Nature, as the Luddite groups like "Friends of the Earth". It's a revolving door.

Posted by: Kevin O'Brien | November 23, 2010 7:45 AM    Report this comment

Kevin, I used to share your views, but the new TP candidates are different and they know what will happen if they stray from the farm. The blender credit for ethanol will end on December 31st, according to most pundits. Ethanol now costs more per gallon than gasoline, so stations will be losing more money on sales of blends than pure gas come 1 January. Heck, even Al Gore now public opposes the use of ethanol! The Friends of the Earth might just help us - they are well aware that the expanded use of Mogas will reduce lead emissions without dramatically affecting the existing 100LL infrastructure. They might just be our friends, who would have thought that? They actually appear more reasonable that the EPA, which does not appear to be aware of all the damage that ethanol is causing millions of Americans. The key to killing this beast is not to wait on our so-called leaders, but appeal to the masses who have been affected by the unintended consequences of political decisions and bureaucrats. Death by a million small cuts?

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 23, 2010 7:57 AM    Report this comment

The FAA/EPA forced the use of 100LL as the only GA gasoline now available (on or off airport). The same agencies are now "clueless" after painting GA into a corner.

Either they intend to now help GA out or simply kill us all off by now banning the last available fuel. Obviously they are not choosing the "help us" option by allowing E0 approval.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 23, 2010 9:04 AM    Report this comment

The blender credit for ethanol will end on December 31st, according to most pundits.<<

Tea Party notwithstanding, I'll be surprised if this happens, although I hope it does. It's going to be an interesting Congress. And, in any case, if the credit goes, the state mandates may take up the slack once the farm lobby gets fired up again. Lot of money hanging out there in 10B gallon capacity for ethanol. It won't go quietly.

What you could see coming is brief respite. Ethanol push declines a little if the tax credit goes, then resume with new tactics and strategies.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 23, 2010 1:28 PM    Report this comment

Now there is ONLY ONE gasoline forced upon all of GA; We're boxed in. Just one edict from the EPA and that fuel is gone. GA is hanging by a frayed thread and Lisa Jackson is holding scissors.

Tell me again why you think 100LL infrastructure is more important right now?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 24, 2010 8:06 AM    Report this comment

Mark,

It's really not quite that draconian. The EPA has a long way to go before making any determination - they said so at AOPA Summit. They also don't do anything without extensive public input - which is our call to action! Further, it is the FAA that rules our world, not the EPA.

There is most certainly a huge need to take all this seriously and urgently as the greatest threat to piston General Aviation in perhaps a couple of decades. But shouting FIRE in a crowded theater simply loses credibility for all of us.

What is needed here is NATIONAL LEADERSHIP. So far, it is not visible on the horizon. The incredible energy in this whole string must be converted into lobbying action - within aviation!

Posted by: James Herd | November 24, 2010 11:16 AM    Report this comment

James, You need to realize that the AOPA, EPA are all powerless. All it takes is just one well placed civil lawsuit of lead tainted rain runoff. When FBO's can be sued then 100LL is history no matter what speech is heard over at AOPA.

Heck, the EPA has already supplied the courts with enough "data" on leaded gasoline than even a simple injunction could kill it's use tomorrow (and not a soul could change it).

No, shouting "fire" does not help if a judge drops a bomb.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 24, 2010 11:59 AM    Report this comment

Another aircraft engine manufacturer (beside Rotax in Europe, when I understand them right) gives the o.k. for the use of fuels with ethanol content.

UL Power Aero Engines (http://www.ulpower.com/ ) writes to me yesterday:

"Your information is correct: the UL260i can be used with mogas with an ethanol content up to 15%. This is also the case for the other engines. However, due to different compression ratios, the octane ratio requirements vary: - UL260i, UL350i: minimum oct. rate: 95 RON. - UL260iS, UL260iSA, UL350iS: minimum oct. rate: 98 RON. Avgas 100LL can be used on all engines as an alternative."

http://www.volksflugzeug.eu/1.html offers UL airplanes with all engines ready for use with ethanol fuels. Price for a complete flying airplane with 540 kg (1,190 lbs) gross weight including radio and instruments, for example with a 86 HP engine S950R with TBO of 1200 h (see http://www.sauer-flugmotorenbau.de/resources/Datenblatt+S950R.pdf ), is about € 33,000.00 (US $ 44,000 today).

We need priceworthy airplanes and engines which can be flown with low priced auto fuels. I believe that is fact. Aircraft and -engine manufacturers are beginning to realize that. I would only buy a new plane today when it is ready for the use of common automobile fuels with ethanol contents. Manufacturers of bladder tanks should be asked, when they start to offer ethanol resistant parts for replacement in older planes.

Posted by: Dietrich Fecht | November 27, 2010 11:28 AM    Report this comment

We already have tens or hundreds of thousands of GA planes that can run on MoGas today. The problem is ETHANOL! Leave that (dumb/stupid)mandated additive out and the problem is solved for a huge part of the fleet.

Ethanol is not just an engine and airframe problem. It reduces performance and more significantly it absorbs water. Unlike cars, airplane fuel systems are open to the atmosphere so...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 29, 2010 8:39 AM    Report this comment

FYI: I would not call an 86HP, 1200hr TBO, 2-stroke engine with reed valves that required mixing oil into the fuel an "advancement". I'm also leery of a belt driven water pump on an aero engine.

I agree with the waring given on their site: THIS ENGINE CAN BE USED IN EXPERIMENTAL AND ULTRALIGHT UNCERTIFIED AIRCRAFT ONLY IN CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH AN ENGINE FAILURE WILL NOT COMPROMISE SAFETY. Basically, this engine is an accident waiting to happen.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 29, 2010 8:57 AM    Report this comment

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