July 25, 2011
Lycoming General Manager Michael Kraft said Monday that although the FAA has furloughed many staffers directly involved with the agency's rulemaking committee on leaded avgas, their short-term absence won't delay progress on finding a replacement for 100LL. Because Congress has refused to reauthorize the FAA's operating budget, a number of FAA officials expected to appear at EAA AirVenture to brief pilots and owners on progress toward a replacement fuel won't appear at the show. As of Monday afternoon, it appeared that a Wednesday briefing from the UAT-ARC committee won't occur on schedule, if at all.
But at a press conference on Monday and in an interview afterward, Lycoming's Kraft, who is a member of the ARC panel, said he thought this won't impact the committee's work much in the long term. Although no details are available, the ARC committee has reportedly made good progress toward a regulatory framework that would ultimately pave the way for approvals of unleaded aviation fuels. When the ARC was formed earlier this year, one goal was to have at least an initial report available for AirVenture 2011, but that clearly won't happen.
During a brief press conference Monday, Kraft also announced that the company's new O-233 series LSA powerplant is now flying in several aircraft, including a Kitfox LSA on display in the Lycoming booth. The O-233 represents Lycoming's first production foray into electronic ignition and Kitfox's John McBean, who flew the airplane to Oshkosh from Idaho, reports that the engine operated flawlessly. AVweb will have a video report about the engine later in the week.