The City of Long Beach, California, is offering to pay piston aircraft operators to switch to unleaded fuel. Last week the city council of the Los Angeles suburb voted to have the city cover the $2-$4 per gallon difference between Swift Fuels and 100LL. In November, the city council voted to cover the cost of the STC needed for aircraft to legally use the fuel up to $300. Swift sells the STC for $100. The unleaded fuel has been at the Signature FBO at Long Beach since last August but hadn’t been selling well because it’s more expensive than standard avgas, so the city council stepped in. The $300,000 budget will come from airport operating revenues.
“Subsidizing the price difference of unleaded aviation fuel removes one of the major barriers for its widespread adoption,” said Councilman Daryl Supernaw. “I’m proud that our City is pressing ahead with local solutions ahead of the federal government’s timeline.” The FAA has set 2030 to have a universal replacement for 100LL. The UL94 can be used by about 70 percent of aircraft with spark ignition engines, but higher-performance types need 100 octane fuel.
General Aviation Modifications Inc. has developed a 100-octane unleaded fuel that is STC’d for all gasoline aircraft engines but it is not in general distribution. Swift Fuels is also developing an unleaded 100-octane fuel as is a partnership between LyondellBasell and VP Racing Fuels through the FAA’s EAGLE Initiative. Phillips 66 and Afton Chemical have suspended their effort after running into reliability issues with their fuel during testing.