Swift Fuel: Similar Prices As 100LL
As the FAA slowly plies through the process of approving an unleaded replacement for 100LL, Swift says it believes its 100-octane unleaded fuel will have a comparable cost to current avgas. Swift was one of two fuels to emerge from the first phase of the FAA's Piston Alternative Fuel Initiative testing late last month. A second entrant from Shell also made the first cut.
In an interview with AVweb at Sun 'n Fun on Wednesday, Swift's Chris D'Acosta said the next step is a nearly three-year-long second phase of trials that will involve test cell runs in 18 to 20 engines, plus flight trials in about 10 aircraft. Swift expects to deliver its first volume batch of fuel to the FAA early in the summer.
When testing is complete in 2018, the FAA will decide on fleetwide approval, or perhaps qualified fleet approval, and the fuel will be cleared to enter into the market. It's likely to be refined under license since Swift doesn't intend to invest in refining capacity itself. "Our plan would be have to refiners involved in enough volume to make it make sense," D'Acosta said. Ideally, that would include licensing refiners in various geographic regions to keep distribution costs down. The fuel will be similar in performance to the ASTM D910 spec applies to avgas, but Swift already has its own manufacturing spec its fuel. As for cost, D'Acosta believes Swift's UL 102 will be comparable to 100LL.
"We've told the FAA repeatedly that we believe this fuel will be commercially viable at low lead prices, D'Acosta said.
Last summer, Swift began distribution of a 94-octane unleaded fuel and D'Acosta said it will continue growing that distribution. "There's a lot of unmet need for unleaded fuel. Training schools have a lot of high-use airplanes and this fuel dramatically reduces maintenance costs," he said.