FAA Halts Flight Testing Of 100LL Replacements

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The FAA has temporarily halted flight testing for its Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI) unleaded 100LL replacement fuels program while issues related to the differences between the two PAFI fuels and 100LL are being assessed, according to a progress update issued by the FAA on Monday. “Both fuel producers, Shell and Swift, are currently evaluating options to mitigate the impacts that these differences will present in fuel production, distribution, and operation in the GA fleet,” said the FAA.

Some engine testing of PAFI fuels has also been stopped and the FAA has said it is interested in pursuing alternative high-octane unleaded fuels developed outside of the PAFI program while the assessment is taking place. If other potentially workable 100LL replacement fuels are found, the FAA will invite developers “to participate in a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the FAA, which will be conducted on a non-interference basis with the PAFI program.”

The flight testing part of the PAFI program is currently about one-third complete and the engine testing is about halfway done, according to the update. With the additional evaluations needed, the end date for the PAFI program has been pushed from December 2018 to December 2019. “The overall goal of the PAFI initiative remains to authorize a fleetwide replacement fuel, and the best and brightest are working to realize that goal,” said AOPA’s David Oord, who is part of the PAFI steering group.

PAFI began in 2014, with the Shell and Swift fuels being selected for Phase Two testing in March 2016. Before this most recent development, the FAA’s last program update was issued at AirVenture 2017.

Comments (18)

"... FAA has said it is interested in pursuing alternative high-octane unleaded fuels developed outside of the PAFI program...."

Sounds like the FAA is going to take a closer look at GAMI's G100UL fuel.

Posted by: Kirk Wennerstrom | June 7, 2018 5:00 PM    Report this comment

One can only hope.

Posted by: Don Lawton | June 7, 2018 9:20 PM    Report this comment

Would be nice to know just what the issues actually are?!

Posted by: matthew wagner | June 7, 2018 9:33 PM    Report this comment

Translation:
The program appers to be headed for a dead end, and we're very interested in starting from scratch."
Sorry, but I can't read it any other way. Please explain to me why I'm wrong.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | June 8, 2018 9:18 AM    Report this comment

Yars you are a a cynic. Remember they are from the FAA and are here to help us.

Posted by: Leo LeBoeuf | June 8, 2018 9:22 AM    Report this comment

I DON'T NEED 100 OCTANE!
My engine and most of small GA planes are designed for lower octane.
100 is overkill for most small GA engines and was a committee solution back in the 80's.
Now it has become a mindset that every small plane needs it.

Imagine if every gas station in the USA was told to sell ONLY "premium" grade and you had no choice but to pay the high price and get nothing in return? That's GA today.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | June 8, 2018 10:09 AM    Report this comment

Mark:

Politely, "imagine" if every gas station in the country was prohibited from selling high-octane gasoline - and you owned a car that requires its use. THAT is the situation that owners of high-octane-only aircraft potentially face.

YOU may not need 100 octane; 90% of the world may not need 100 octane. But my crummy little 125 hp Tomahawk HAS TO burn it. Should "screw the unfortunate few" become our mantra? Really?

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | June 8, 2018 10:20 AM    Report this comment

After 30 years of ownership where I have been ignored and forced to pay for things I don't want or need, yea. I've earned the right to be a tad angry about the "solution" to just keep being screwed.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | June 8, 2018 10:29 AM    Report this comment

"I DON'T NEED 100 OCTANE!
My engine and most of small GA planes are designed for lower octane."
- - - - -
You're right - 70% of GA aircraft don't need 100 octane gas... BUT the remaining 30% of aircraft that do need 100LL consume about 70% of avgas sold today.

So, most planes may not need it, but they're not the ones buying it.

This "me first" attitude will (further) hurt GA. It's already a fractious environment (look at all the alphabet groups that exist today). Avgas is less than 1/10 of 1 percent of all fuel sold today. Do we really want split up that drop in the bucket and make it even more expensive and less profitable?

"We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."
- Benjamin Franklin

Posted by: Kirk Wennerstrom | June 8, 2018 10:34 AM    Report this comment

It's not a "me first" attitude, it's a "when will you ever think of me" attitude.
The FAA is NOT working to help the 70% so THAT is not good for GA....

Posted by: Mark Fraser | June 8, 2018 10:49 AM    Report this comment

About 18 months ago, on a visit to Ada, Oklahoma, I asked George Braley of GAMI why they did not apply to enter the PAFI program. He just chuckled and replied (i'm paraphrasing here) that the whole thing would end up going nowhere and they (GAMI) did not want to end up in the middle of it. He said they could make better progress without the helpful oversight of the FAA. Smart man.

Posted by: John McNamee | June 8, 2018 11:14 AM    Report this comment

When I was flying jumpers in C182's, they ran ok on autogas,( normally run on 80 octane, remember that fuel?) The C185's I flew did need 100LL. So does the Aerostar that I have access to via a company flying club. If only car gas was sold without the ethanol garbage added to it we might have an easier solution to the 100LL issue.

Posted by: matthew wagner | June 8, 2018 4:32 PM    Report this comment

" ... halted flight testing for its Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative ... " Good! The (silent) remaining 30%.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | June 9, 2018 3:09 AM    Report this comment

Rafael,

I don't see how this is good. Eventually that company is going to stop making TEL and then, well, it's going to be a bad day.

As far as those going "I don't need 100LL" there's plenty of people who want to end ethanol free unleaded gas, so how's that sit with you? You can bet that if the high performance aircraft that need 100LL aren't able to fly, 96UL without ethanol is screwed. Why? You can putt around on 5-8gph, right? Guess how financially viable you are in terms of fuel? You're not. You certainly won't be worth the fight to sell ethanol free gas.

Be careful with schadenfraude, it has a tendency of coming to you next.

Posted by: Joe Servov | June 9, 2018 6:38 PM    Report this comment

IMO PAFI is preparing to recommend a government mandate where 96UL will be the only fuel for all 230,000 piston engine GA aircraft. It's estimated that 30% or about 60,000 of the present GA aircraft fleet engines will need fixes to safely operate using 96UL. Another operating burden tha could break the bank. 100LL is expensive. 96UL will be more expensive. Not good. Therefore stopping PAFI on the roll is GOOD.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | June 9, 2018 8:47 PM    Report this comment

This is not something to worry about for the next 7 years.

With Trump, the idea that a government agency will have the whole reciprocating fleet grounded is so far beyond funny that it is downright catharsis seizure inducing whatever in hell that means.
Can we clone that guy so we can have him in charge in perpetuity...

Posted by: Max Mason | June 10, 2018 2:33 AM    Report this comment

Mark,

You do realize that President Trump's view of aviation has absolutely nothing (not even remotely) in common with the average piston pilot's I hope. He flies in large Jet-A burning aircraft, both before and after being elected. Expecting him to even remotely understand, much less care, about the problem piston owner Joe Pilot faces is almost ridiculous. That's like expecting a guy who owns a 400 foot or larger pleasure yacht (built someplace like Vlissingen, Netherlands, starting at $1 million per foot, so $400 million plus) to understand or care about the guy with a 15' fishing boat.

Posted by: Joe Servov | June 12, 2018 3:55 PM    Report this comment

Nobody's being cynical enough.

Posted by: Tim Kern | June 14, 2018 8:51 AM    Report this comment

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