FAA Continues To Stall On G100UL

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When last I worked myself into a virtual lather over the glacial non-progress of the stupidly over complicated process of finding an unleaded aviation fuel, I allowed as how I had grown old watching this process. I’m two months older now and still, nothing has happened.  

At Sun ‘n Fun, George Braly told us he was assured by the FAA’s Earl Lawrence that STCs for General Aviation Modification Inc.’s G100UL would “almost certainly” be approved by early May. It’s early June and not only is Lawrence gone from his job overseeing certification at the FAA, he’s gone from the FAA. A new person, Lirio Liu, now has Lawrence’s old job, and evidently has to start over again with the final review. She has declined to respond to Braly’s request for either an update or a face-to-face meeting.

In the interim, I was asked by a reader why I thought the FAA was delaying this approval. First, recall that GAMI has been at this for 12 years and has completed, in detail, all the FAA-specified test parameters and is the only company to have done this, plus a long-term fleet durability test with Embry-Riddle. The Wichita certification office has reviewed the project ad nauseum and sent it on to Washington for the final approval. All boxes checked.

This has not happened. Why, asks the reader? We can only guess from the outside looking in. The FAA’s searingly incompetent showing in overseeing the Boeing 737 MAX certification may or may not be at play. The agency may be gun shy about making another high-profile certification blunder, although I’m not sure anything to do with piston fuel would rise above the fold in the New York Times.  

One reason to believe the MAX fiasco is impacting the G100UL project is that in February of this year, the FAA announced expanded use of so-called Technical Advisory Boards to review downstream cert work by the FAA rank and file. It did this for the MAX and now it’s doing it for G100UL. OK, fair enough. Get the TAB assembled, do the review and announce findings.

But the applicant, in this case GAMI, should have a right to know who is on the TAB and what their credentials are. Braly told me the FAA has denied this information. Furthermore, the applicant should get a look at the report. The FAA has refused, claiming it’s in draft form. Anyone who has done a cert project or dealt with the government at the staff level will recognize this as death by a thousand cuts.

What seems likely to happen—and I’m predicting here based on bureaucratic behavior—is that the TAB will somehow find fault with the staff cert work and recommend that GAMI start over and go through the FAA’s new EAGLE program, or son of PAFI. The acronym means Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions, giving the impression that this time, we’re really serious. The FAA’s internal interest is less eliminating lead than suckering Congress into funding a multi-year, multi-million dollar program to make this problem last as long as possible. The alphabets and manufacturers go along with this in the interest of a cooperative relationship and, besides, it’s not their money. (It’s yours.)

And to be honest about it, they also understand—as do the avgas producers—that unleaded 100 octane will cost more than 100LL. So why rush into selling a more expensive fuel until you’re absolutely forced to?

The EPA has been in this loop, don’t forget, and is expected to issue a tetraethyl lead finding of endangerment before the end of the year. Braly told me EPA contacted him for technical details on G100UL and was apparently under the impression that little detonation or long-term durability testing had been done. In fact, hundreds of hours of such testing have been done, to the satisfaction of the FAA engineers who oversaw the testing. Don’t think for a moment that the agency isn’t capable of this kind of duplicity.

Everyone involved in this fuel cluster understands one thing: Even with the finding of endangerment, it will take EPA many months to do rulemaking, which plays into the FAA’s stretched out EAGLE program. “Loving the problem,” as former Lycoming manager Michael Kraft used to say with ill-disguised frustration. In my experience in covering this, Kraft was the only CEO who understood the process, the stakes and the risk if the single source of TEL dries up. However unlikely that is, don’t kid yourself into believing it couldn’t happen.

To me, that’s the largest risk here. Based on the EPA data I’ve seen so far, I was never convinced that lead emissions from aviation are a major environmental hazard. On the other hand, if the FAA would stop throwing sand in the gears, we could easily be on the way to getting rid of them.

You’ve seen our reporting on California authorities, having gotten a whiff of G100UL, want to ban leaded aviation fuel in the Golden State. It’s not clear if they can succeed at this, but it does represent a threat. Demand in Europe is another issue. If regulators there see G100UL—or any other fuel–as a viable replacement, then what happens?

Think about how pathetic we are if we are to believe it will take another eight years to figure this out. Why do we even continue to put up with this from our government agencies. It’s truly a puzzle.

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97 COMMENTS

  1. All Aviation regulation has to go through congress now. A congressman needs to submit the ‘G100UL Clean Air Act’ bill. Once all three branches investigate for themselves then they’ll vote on it and then the STC can be issued. This is not what the FAA does anymore. The FAA is an enforcement agency that does surveillance. The FAA wants guns and badges. Time to stop looking to the FAA for advancing aviation.

    • Oh!

      Many areas were offering high octane ground vehicle fuel without ethanol, as rule was for average across all sales and highest octane was a small proportion of sales.

      But eco-goons are obsessive.

  2. 100LL is now $7.08 gallon here in this state, how much higher can it go? Talk about throwing sand in the gears, people are already pissed about car/truck fuel prices. I think the bottom line is nobody is really in charge of the current administration starting with Biden and right now this bunch has 6 months to cram as much garbage through as humanly possible before the gate slams shut. Leaded avgas which accounts for a very very small percentage of overall fuel use is probably the least of their (FAA) worries and who wants to stick their neck out and have another crisis. Can’t even find oil filters now for Gawed sake’s.

  3. “Why do we even continue to put up with this from our government agencies. It’s truly a puzzle.”

    Two reasons:
    1. We get the government that we deserve.
    2. We are the most undeserving people on this planet.

    As long as we keep electing self-serving, freedom-hating morons, things only will get worse. Our national fate already may be unrecoverable.

    In 1961, John Kennedy said: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

    Sixty-plus years later, the naked, unembarassed American ethos is “What’s in it for me?”

    Personal responsibility and its consequent leavening shame have become extinct.

    Today is D-Day. Consider two things:
    1. The sacrifices that Greatest Generation Americans made, so we could be free.
    2. Today’s “leaders” likely would surrender to a Hitler or a Tojo.

    And this is “progress?” Woe betide us, and all of humanity.

    • “Today is D-Day. Consider two things:
      1. The sacrifices that Greatest Generation Americans made, so we could be free.
      2. Today’s “leaders” likely would surrender to a Hitler or a Tojo.

      And this is “progress?” Woe betide us, and all of humanity.”

      I hope this can be turned around. You only get so many chances. I think we’re on our last one.

      • I agree. Nothing last forever. We are heading the way of the old USSR. The future looks bleak. When people who are sworn to protect the constitution actively advocate for abolishing the electoral college, packing the court, doing away with the senate and the 2nd Amendment and believe biology is a social construct we are finished…wait…

    • These days, I OFTEN say to others — when discussing the current state of affairs in this Country — WTH did I serve 21 years in the military for … THIS ?? Like you, I’m no longer going to be silent on any of this … I’m going to confront the fanatical lefties who can’t see what’s happening and either are ignorant or don’t care and think everything is OK … it ISN’T! $9.50 fuel in Mendocino, CA (6/06/2022) ought to be sending up flares and red flags everywhere. Where I am, it went up to $4.80 this AM … up from $4.20 just two weeks ago.

      The GAMI G100UL issue reminds me of Michael Huerta standing on stage at the Meet the Administrator forums at Airventure year after year telling hundreds of pilots waiting for news about medical reform that he couldn’t discuss it and that it was in work .. be patient. Patience, hell, get offa you butt and DO something (now, about G100UL). Sen Inhofe ought to make his parting contribution to GA some forced codification of the use of Braly’s fuel.

      Someone ought to rename the FAA the Bureau of Oral Gratification and Enforcement … and not much else. But the Secretary of Transportation is probably too busy feeding his infant Pablum to even care? Now I see him on TV discussing issues not even remotely related to subjects the DOT ought to be dealing with.

    • Very well said! I agree with you. We don’t have patriotic leaders in government at this time. I think they are working for chinas interest not ours. As for Biden he is no leader and certainly no president.

    • All of us need to be calling email or otherwise talking to our congressman and senators every chance we get complain to them to get off there buts and do something besides drawing their pay checks off our backs our labor. Make them listen,They work for us.

  4. George Braly has the patience of Job, and must have a very stable source of funding to support his 12 year (and counting) crusade. GAMI’s efforts are fueled by business decisions; they hope to be the first to find the giant pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. That pot of gold will be filled by you and me and everyone else who pays even more for G100UL than we are now paying for 100LL. So while George seems like a great guy and I respect his dedication, I am personally in no rush for even more expensive avgas.

  5. One seemingly simple (to simple-minded me) solution would be to quit requiring airplanes that don’t need lead to include it in their fuel. The 100LL product has been forced down the throats of carburetors that don’t need that level of octane performance.
    If a selector-valve can be placed in an airplane then one can be placed on a fuel-delivery hose which would introduce the lead/TEL into the fuel AT THE PUMP…. or NOT. Then all the little training and personal airplanes that can operate on UL-AvGas can have it and those who need the full 100 OCT w/TEL fuel can also.

  6. And quit looking for political scapegoats. Biden wasn’t prez for the vast majority of the problem and Inhofe is retiring/retired and should have years ago when he landed on a closed runway and nearly killed workers on it.

  7. With TWO federal alphabet agencies, FAA and EPA, which operate at comparable levels of inflexibility, iinvolved in the issue, it’s almost incomprehensible that anything will proceed in a timely manner. “Loving the problem” – perfect description. The feds have and will always have real problems moving beyond Square One.

  8. A few years ago I read a really good book about Lindbergh. It is “The Flight of the Century: Charles Lindbergh and the rise of American Aviation”. It is by Thomas Kessner. It is an excellent read.
    Much more than the title implies, this book is about aviation.
    Chapter 9 in particular looks at the early role of the FAA (CAA at the time). According to the book, the FAA was basically conceived to keep small operators out of the aviation business–in the name of safety of course. Reading it helped me understand how the FAA got to where it is. It actually started out that way, by design.

  9. Two notes on Paul B’s take:
    – “[U]nleaded 100 octane will cost more than 100LL. So why rush into selling a more expensive fuel until you’re absolutely forced to?” I think Paul’s colleague, Rick Durden, got it right in the June 2022 issue of Aviation Consumer: “[T]he bottom-line profit margin on car gas is only a couple of pennies/gallon, but the bottom-line margin of profit for 100LL is estimated to be in the range of 50 to 80 cents per gallon. It appears that there are powerful financial forces that want to drag out the end date for the sale of 100LL as many years as possible. How do you do that? By creating yet another committee, which is, as author Robert Heinlein said, ‘a life-form with six or more legs and no brain.’ Committees have a way of making sure a problem does not get solved until the date for the committee to dissolve.” An interesting question might be: Is anyone at FAA profiting from this? The answer might be found in where people who leave FAA go to work after leaving.
    – The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recently announced “Environmental protection requirements for supersonic transport aeroplanes” and “Prototype Technical Design Specifications for Vertiports,” in both instances placing itself firmly ahead of FAA in the development and deployment of actionable technical standards for new civil aviation technologies. Might it be wise for Mr. Braly to focus on leveraging his 12 years of technical data to obtain EASA certification of G100UL first and play catch-up with FAA later? Europe takes environmental concerns seriously; the European market may welcome G100UL more enthusiastically than we will in the States and, although the European market for piston civil aviation fuel is probably small compared to the U.S. market, EASA approval is something FAA could not ignore.

  10. the only real solution is for us to write our congressman. expecting a government bureaucrat to take a risk is impossible. If you look at their situation, bureaucrats can only lose their job for a decision. doing something risky will cause them to be fired. it is much safer for your job to say no than to say yes.

  11. Now the FAA has another excuse to self justify their jobs. Peter Boot-a-Judge can now show his true incompetence as a public administer and go on with his real job:eliminate GA, add to inflation, appoint more cronies, and squeeze more money out of GA providers for the Biden campaign funds. The Idea of leaving this to be solved by more political involvement scares me.

  12. “Why do we even continue to put up with this from our government agencies. It’s truly a puzzle.”

    The short answer is, “Because the agencies can get away with it.” Congress has abdicated its power and allowed the Executive to become much more powerful than it was supposed to be under the Constitution. Yes, write your Representative and tell them to put their big … uh, person, pants on and do what the framers of the Constitution intended: represent the people and properly oversee what the Executive is doing.

    Many years ago my father, a retired Naval Aviator and then active GA pilot, was a member of the US House of Representatives. During that time he was on an official visit to Israel, a function of being a member of the House Armed Services Committee. While there he was invited to fly a training hop with the Israeli Air Force in the then-new Kafir fighter. He accepted. (Wouldn’t you?) One of the interesting things is that, at the time (late 1970s) all Israeli training hops flew with full live munitions just in case someone wanted a repeat of the 1973 war. He was asked if he was willing to engage in combat should the need arise. He readily agreed. The State Department, a function of the Executive Branch, had apoplexy and forbade him from flying the hop. He pointed out the separation of powers clause in the Constitution and explained to the US Ambassador that the Executive branch had no power over the Legislative branch. He flew the hop. For the rest of his life the picture of him sitting in the Kafir with his Israeli IP resided on the wall of his office.

    So, yes, the Congress can tell the Executive what to do, or to go pound sand for that matter, as the case requires. Time to get them to do their jobs.

    • @Brian L: And so your Dad, a congressman disrespectful of the national interests risked U.S. involvement in a middle-east war by flying a foreign armed fighter because he thought he’d have more fun than respect his obligation to Americans?

      • That statement neatly encapsulated everything wrong in this country.

        Is there really any value in that attack on a guy and his dad?

        If some violent dictatorship attacks one of our Allies while our Congress people are visiting, can we be uninvolved? (As if there is some way we would not have been involved in a Middle East conflict during that period anyways.)

        Just because someone was having fun, must something be wrong?

        War is acceptable if it’s against Israel or the US (in which case it’s understandable)?

        Should the part of his dad have been played by his mom or some other woman from just the right ethnic group du jour?

        Should I go on?

  13. It’s Deja Vu all over again. Look to Europe. Ethanol free Mogas and diesel at most GA airfields, delivered by the same fuel providers who deliver Jet-A and Leaded Avgas. The worlds largest aircraft engine maker, Austria’s Rotax, designs its engines to run best on ethanol-free mogas. The largest light aircraft manufacturer in the world, Italy’s Tecnam, has a policy that all its aircraft will run on mogas, they do not need leaded fuel. 80% or more of the piston engine aircraft fleet in the US will run on Mogas with the STC’s that the EAA and Todd Peterson pioneered. One of the rising stars of homebuilt power plants, Viking, sell engines derived from auto engines that of course run best on Mogas. But our out-of-Touch government and the out-of-touch Aviation Alphabets are still beating the dead horse of a single replacement fuel. Is it all being dictated by COPA and the Avgas providers? If so, they are shooting themselves in the foot.

    • What engines does Tecnam use?

      I thought it had US engines in the airliners it sells to Cape Air.

      Or does the excessive ‘Soar Higher’ splash on its web site mean it only makes gliders? (Yes, I think most marketing people are idiots.)

      Answer buried in user unfriendly web site is ‘Lycoming’.

      • Lycoming has already signed off that G100UL is an acceptable fuel for all of their avgas powered engines. Continental has done so as well. Interesting point about European plane builders; Pipistrel originally designed their new Pahthera to use the Lycoming IO390 engine, but later switched to the IO540 instead. One reason why is that the 390 requires 100 octane fuel while the 540 can use the 94 octane unleaded mogas.

  14. Ethanol may not be pumped through fuel pipelines thus we will always have ethanol-free Mogas. That crap is mixed into ethanol-free gasoline at terminals, ruining an otherwise great fuel just to line the pockets of big Ag and companies that build ethanol plants, like Fagen. See pure-gas.org for thousands of sellers across the country.

    • The problem is that ethanol has a slight octane boost effect. If the refiners produce mogas that they know will be blended with ethanol, they can make it a slightly lower octane value. If they make an ethanol free mogas, they will have to blend it to a slightly higher octane value at the refinery. But, you are correct; ethanol in auto gas is one of the dumber ideas the government has crammed down our throats. It was marketed as a “solution” to freeing us from foreign oil imports AND a “solution” to lowering air pollution from gasoline. In reality, it was a vote-getting move to the farm lobby. All those jobs in corn production and ethanol plants are in predominantly agricultural states. The government also make a real blunder with the original ethanol mandate. They required that a minimum volume of ethanol had to be produced and blended into the gasoline supply, regardless of the actual volume of gasoline sold. When gasoline demand dropped, as it did in the pandemic, refiners were scrambling to find a place to put the constant amount of ethanol they were sold. That explains the recent push to raise the percentage of ethanol in mogas as farmers lobby to make more alcohol.

      • On top of that, the fertilizer used to grow corn runs off into the rivers and turns the Gulf of Mexico brown and causes all sorts of problems, but no one on the Left will say anything because they know the ignorant masses blame it on drilling.

  15. I’m apparently the only one to think we shouldn’t be rushing to help GAMI, but rather should be whole-heartedly behind EAGLE.

    What’s the problem?

    Intellectual Property Rights

    All you have to do is do a tiny amount of “let’s imagine” to see we’re slamming ourselves headlong into a world of pain if GAMI “wins” here.

    So, let’s imagine:
    1) G100UL comes out, even in trifling amounts.
    2) EPA, state-EPA equivalents, cities and the rest say, “Why are we still selling leaded fuel? The unleaded stuff only costs (let’s exaggerate) 50% more, and we no longer have to expose everyone to neurologically deadly lead.” So, 100LL is banned.
    3) There is now a single source of legal fuel in the entire country for high compression piston engines. …And it’s controlled by a single company who has 100% control over both its production and consumption.

    Uh-oh. Now we’re screwed. And we asked for it…

    1) GAMI can now charge whatever it feels like. How about a “GAMI Prime” subscription to be allowed to continue to buy gas? Only $100/mo whether you buy fuel or not! How about a yearly “GAMI Inspection” that’s required to “ensure your plane is working it’s best”? GAMI now gets to charge A&Ps for the license (and “training”) to perform such an inspection, and charge you for getting it done. How about required “GAMI Insurance” in case you ever have a problem that’s provably due to fuel (good luck), they’ll cover some small portion of it. How about a STC transfer fee (and inspection and application fee) every time you sell your plane?

    2) FBOs have scrambled to buy licenses from GAMI to sell their fuel and invested in whatever their “approved” tanking and pumping infrastructure is. When (hopefully) a second 100UL comes out, do you think the FBO can pump both? Or switch over? No, of course not! GAMI surely will write their licenses such that the FBO is committed to only pumping their gas. The FBO will need to reinvest in all new equipment for fuel #2, assuming GAMI didn’t lock them into an exclusive for years to get the license in the first place.

    3) GAMI becomes a $100B+ company. We’ve never had problems with huge companies (and especially monopolies) becoming corrupt. Ever! ENRON was a fluke. Standard Oil was easily dealt with by Congress inventing the entire concept of anti monopoly laws. Certainly our Congress is far more functional now!

    Please. Cheerleading a *company* (not a person, despite how often they bring out Santa-Claus-look-alike Braly to appeal to us) being handed a monopoly is naive at best. I love you Paul, but you’re missing the obvious and deeply troubling result of GAMI winning without EAGLE.

    • Well, firstly I suggest another company will develop a fuel – what happened to Swift, wasn’t it blessed by FAA?

      Braly will certainly charge for his work, as he should, but I predict not outrageous – he can retire on royalties. (He did not want to be in the refining business, but rather licence his IP. Has he not done that?)

      Homework?

      • Capitalism does not reward people who charge “reasonable” royalties. It rewards people who charge painful-yet-juuust-barely-acceptable-to-the-market prices. Attributing “he’ll do right by us” to someone you’ve granted unlimited power to is too optimistic for the current state of mankind for me to swallow.

        Have another company launch a fuel is a primary focus of EAGLE. If you can at least get a counterbalance to GAMI, much of the problem is solved. Without it, we’re asking for pain.

        • That is the free market. Want an example of the free market? Look at your paycheck. Will you work for less? Or would you rather have more, but you are getting paid what others are paid for the same job?

    • Valid concerns, except that GAMI has stated they will not be the producers of the fuel and will offer the formula to anyone who wants it (I don’t recall their specific wording, though). I seem to also recall that GAMI initially wanted to be a part of PAFI, but that they were denied for some reason. It smells like someone is paying someone off, and that whoever they are, they don’t want GAMI to be a part of PAFI/EAGLE.

      • You’re missing the point. You don’t need to be the producer of the fuel to be in 100% control of the production and consumption when you have IP rights. Of course GAMI will offer to license their patent to anyone (who pays enough).

        You’re confusing old economy ways of making money (e.g. by having a big expensive refinery that’s expensive to build and operate and acts as a nice barrier to entry) and the new economy (collecting licensing fees because you have exclusive rights).

        • So they charge a few cents or a dime or even $0.50 per gallon, on that 180,000,000 gallons of avgas we burn yearly. I don’t have *any* issue with IP, or a single supplier; if they charge too much, someone else will see what’s happening, and tweak the formula enough to make it patentable. I’ve seen it happen several times.

    • Okay, $100B is ludicrously large. But that possibly makes it worse. Will anyone take action on a monopoly that only us “rich private airplane owners” complain about? Especially with Inhofe retiring?

    • Having the entire GA fleet beholden to the whims of one company is asking for trouble.

      Remember what happened to Cessna parts & SB kit prices after Textron bought them? Nice ole’ Uncle George or his heirs will sellout to Blackrock or the like at some point.

      We need to get 100UL approved if it’s legit. Also some senior politician, like a Senator, should facilitate a negotiation between GAMI, FAA, and EAGLE program stakeholders for a fair “buy-in” to GAMI for the greater public good and call that the EAGLE program and it’s done.

      Several times the Federal gov stepped in to unstick US aviation from restrictive patients harming the national good going back to the Wright Brothers.

      The downstream harm Steve M. mentioned is tangible, no matter how much we like George for domesticating knowledge of LOP operations.

    • Just to bring you down to earth, avgas sales are in the range of 200 million gallons a year. Five or so refineries make it and it and the gross profits for all of them together is about $150 million. If you think it’s a $100B business, you’re wide by several magnitudes.

      I think it’s delusional to think GAMI or Swift’s fuels will achieve monopolies with their 100-octane fuels. The example would be Swift’s 94UL. It’s carving out a tiny little market share. It won’t take off, if it ever does, until lead is gone. Maybe not even then.

      GAMI will be in the same position. It will be selling a more expensive fuel against a cheaper leaded version. Chances of success are difficult at best and will rely on market preferences and AVfuel’s willingness to play the long game. What you’re arguing for is government market control by saying an STC fuel should not be approved because it might become a monopoly. Odd, don’t you think, stifling success with government regulation?

      Chevron, Exxon and Phillips have had years to develop their own fuels and could have. It’s not that hard. The turbine mafia did it in short order with SAF.

        • Which brings to mind another issue: Several of you have decried the dangers of having one company with a supposed monopoly over the production of unleaded avgas. In reality, we already have that problem with the sole-source supplier of the TEL for 100LL. Besides, Braley has published a specification that outlined the components for G100UL. There are no unnamed “magic” ingredients that only he controls. Anyone can produce a fuel that meets GAMI’s specification. The bigger challenge is developing a distribution network for the fuel they manufacture. The beauty of G100UL is that refiners can use the same tanks and transports they now use for 100LL, since both fuels are totally mixible and any lead contamination will be minuscule and fade over time. Local FBOs can use their current storage tanks to hold the new fuel, thus negating the need for new equipment.

  16. “Why do we even continue to put up with this from our government agencies. It’s truly a puzzle.”

    It certainly can appear puzzling, but I respectfully submit if we examine a bit further, maybe some pieces will fit together, imho.
    Liberal democracy is government by the consent of and authority granted by the governed. The people agree, mostly tacitly, to rely upon majority vote on policies and representatives in government.
    I feel that agreement is moral and intelligent in intent, but whether it’s moral or intelligent in practice depends upon the people. Our problems are not due to capitalism or socialism or fascism or racism or wokeness or denial of science or the infusion of religion or the greed and ignorance of elected officials.

    We fight and struggle from a failure to hold to the consensus – that which is based upon mutual interests and trust, because we have forgotten that the foundation and success of our polity is working together by mutual agreement. And as Yars voiced, our growing self-absorption ethos blinds and blocks any channels to awareness of this vital consensus.

    We just cannot seem to understand how truly important that is anymore. Present company excepted, of course. 🙂

  17. The problem isn’t what an engine will burn or certification, it’s distribution. I can put a LS6 in my plane today which uses unleaded pump gas (even 10% ethanol). I can have the latest mass produced engine technology using 30% less fuel, 1000 more hours until TBO and a quarter of the rebuild cost, but when I get to where I’m going they will only have 100LL, so you need to fix distribution before anything else. I can already get an STC for mogas for myo-470, but again… it’s not ANYWHERE. Like having a Tesla without a charging network, pretty useless – unless you never leave home.

  18. There are basically 2 approaches to eliminating leaded AVGAS.

    1) Formulate a new blend that has the same performance characteristics as 100 LL, or

    2) Replace 100LL with an existing unleaded certified aviation gasoline, namely 94UL, which is basically 100LL without the lead.

    Choice one has proven to be unexpectedly difficult because there are no easy and cheap chemicals which can replace TEL. The various formulations of 100 UL require quite expensive exotic chemical additives which bring the significant potential for unintended consequences to either airplane fuel systems, or the environment, or both.

    Personally I think 94UL is the solution. It involves zero change to the existing aviation gasoline refining and distribution process and is price neutral and a reasonably long phase in period can be announced now. The downside is, of course, what about all the engines that are only certified for 100LL.

    Well….. and I know I am going to get hate mail for this; but I think those airplanes are going to have to be modified to run on 94UL, which for most will mean a set of lower compression pistons and a slight reduction in takeoff power output. Turbocharged engines will also probably need a water methanol injection system. Of note Continental already has a version of the turbocharged TSIO 550 which is approved to run on 94UL.

    However I think it is likely that many engines can probably be run on 94UL with no changes because there was no reason to ask the question. An example is the IO360 in the new C 172’s. It was a 100LL only engine but is now also certified for 94UL with no changes.

    I would suggest that this is where the FAA could be part of the solution by providing a simplified recertification pathway for approving 94UL in existing engines and where that is not possible a simple approval for de-rating engines with an AML equivalent. They also could provide a subsidy like the ADS-B program.

    The bottom line is GA is going to be paying more going forward. We either pay a substantial penalty per gallon for 100UL forever, or an upfront penalty to modify engines to use 94UL. Pay now or pay later but you are going to pay….

    • Reducing takeoff power to run engines on 94UL will ground just about every light twin built. Most of those planes already have marginal single engine performance, any reduction in power would make those planes ineligible for air carrier service. And it is those planes that use the most 100LL.

      • Incorrect. Modifications to piston twins need to be made that will maintain the current power they already have. Larger intercoolers and in some cases water injection will do the job. We should’ve done this long ago it’s an embarrassment for Aviation that we didn’t do it already.

        • That may be true but now it would become whether the costs for those modifications are worth it. Those modifications may exceed the value of a lot of those twins. Then it just becomes another way to retire obsolete older aircraft just as RVSM or ADS-B or the stage 2 noise ban did.

          • The cost for those modifications will only be worth it for those owners that insist that their aircraft type is the only one that they are willing to travel in. Hopefully you see my point.

        • You’re kind of missing the point here. GAMI’s UL100 already works in all engines manufactured by Lycoming and Continental without any modifications. That includes the high compression and turbocharged big-bore engines that use most of the avgas anyway. Asking those users to spend tens of thousands of dollars to modify (derate) their engines to accept a lower grade fuel is a non-starter if they can use a 100 octane fuel that the manufacturers have already approved (which they have). Also, don’t forget that any modifications to current engines would require FAA approval through an STC process that would probably take years to accomplish. Why bother if there is an acceptable substitute fuel already available? And, don’t make the assumption that G100UL will forever be 50-80 cents per gallon more expensive that 100LL. Most refineries that do not produce leaded avgas don’t want the hassle and expense of producing a product that has to be religiously separated from all other products due to the lead. If they can produce something which does not require that amount of separation and recordkeeping, they may decide to get into the business. More competition would naturally result in lowered prices. That is one reason why Shell (among others) doesn’t want to switch away from leaded avgas. Follow the money.

      • Most light twins on the FAA’s registry don’t fly. Safety, Insurance, training, and the cost of fuel are the reasons for that. The ones that do fly, can be modified. We just need to roll up our shirt sleeves and do the work. Many of the ones flying have had higher compression engines STC’d with no approved OEI performance data changes in their AFM. This can be undone, and turbocharging can be removed. This has been show as an option on certain AeroStars and Navajo’s. And I’m no environmentalist. I’m an A&P with 40+ years experience and an ATP with lots of twin time. I’m just tired of the dirt that accumulates in our combustion chambers, and I know how clean the ones are on my cars.

    • Where did the 105 octane Swift100R fuel disappear to? The FAA has had it for about 7 years. It is still listed on Swift’s website as a replacement for all GA engines. GAMI worked with Swift for 4 years (2014 – 2018). Were there too many patents placed on the Swift fuel to allow GAMI to move forward with their G100UL or is there something else in play here?

  19. Is it possible that pressure is coming down from the White House to stall this long enough that EPA can ban 100LL and simply ground the entire piston fleet? They could then trumpet it as another blow against “climate change.”

  20. Cui bono?
    Would anybody be surprised if the current incumbents providing 100LL aren’t hidden in the shadows behind Lawrence’s departure, the ensuing bureaucratic bungling and the “it’s in draft so we can’t share” sleight of hand.

    Follow the money.

  21. A previous poster (Gary B) wondered why PAFI rejected GAMI. According to Mr. Braley, it was the other way around. When he was invited to join PAFI, he asked if GAMI would get credit for what they had already done. Answer: No, you have to start over from the beginning. What about if we get it done and discover something that will make it better, can we modify it? Answer: No, you have to start over from the beginning.

    Are drafts and committee memberships exempt from the Freedom of Information Act?

  22. PAFI participation also required full disclosure (forfeiture) of intellectual property. Swift initially started in PAFI, but pulled out. PAFI was a collective of those who had not been able to come up with a UL solution for decades. That a little company like GAMI has developed the solution and successfully completed the certification requirements is simply unacceptable to the establishment. The solution? move the goal post out to 2030 and hope more time will allow big oil to catch up and squash the innovator. Government complicit corruption at its best.

  23. Your argument ignores the fact that the 20% of the aircraft models that do need 100 octane fuel currently consume more than 75% of the avfuel (100LL) currently produced today. The combined value of their aircraft is in excess of 20 billion dollars. So you will basically be killing everything but recreational GA if you don’t get to a 100-octane solution. You sound a little bit like the congresswoman who recently bragged that she had gathered enough chips to get an electric vehicle and just breezed by all those gas pumps on her drive back to D.C. (I’m fine now – screw the rest of you guys). Whether you realize it or not, your airports, your FBO, and all of the non-turbine GA owners are dependent on the existence of a 100-octane fuel to maintain GA as we (the little guys) now know it.

  24. Paul,
    Perhaps we should think differently, and work within our industry with market forces, instead of expecting a media-damaged bureaucratic government agency to miraculously respond with efficiency. I feel that working with our GAMA OEM’s and the oil companies could be a lot more productive. Let me give you an example of what I consider a complacent attitude on the part of an OEM regarding 100LL:
    As I write this, on the east coast at 0830, there are already 44 SR22’s, 29 SR20’s, and 22 S22T’s airborne, and the west coast pilots are not even out of bed. These are not short training flights, these are mostly real trips. Almost all these AVIC International Cirrus’s are powered by AVIC international Continental engines that require 100LL.

    At the same time, on the Continental website, these words can be found: “Continental Aerospace Technologies™ Jet-A engines are world-class benchmarks in General Aviation, with more than 7,500 are produced and shipped and more than 2,000 engines in operation today, reporting upwards of 9 million hours. They are favored by flight schools and specified by major OEMs including Tecnam®, Cessna®, Diamond® , Mooney® , Glasair® , Piper® , and Robin® . These Jet-A fueled engines operate on universally-available aviation fuel kerosene (Jet Fuel, Jet-A and other certified aviation Jet fuels). Each is certified to the requirements of FAA, EASA and a further 78 countries.”

    Notice any manufacturer missing from this list?? Cirrus. WTHeck?

    Moving down the line, the 210’s and 206’s can likely be retrofitted with the same package as the Cirrus. The current version of the Textron Panthera is already compatible with unleaded lower-octane fuels. Twin Cessna’s are a little different, but the largest operator, hours-wise, is Cape Air, and they already have fleet replacement plans with Tecnam/Textron products that are compatible with unleaded fuels. Todd Petersen/Impulse has a great STC’d solution for much of the Baron fleet. Every rotax-powered aircraft (and there are now a LOT of them) has a distaste for lead already.
    In the end, if the supply of TEL is gone tomorrow, we are not in bad shape. We just need to get the OEM’s to have the smart products, and oil companies to supply the unleaded Avgas (already approved) in large quantities and with low prices.

    • and they already have fleet replacement plans with Tecnam/Textron products that are compatible with unleaded fuels.

      The Tecnam’s Lycoming IE2 engines require 100-octane. It doesn’t have to be leaded, but it has to be 100.

  25. I saw only a couple of comments that touch on the problem of how to deliver 100UL to pilots who want to buy it. FBOs sell the fuel consumed by GA aircraft. I talked to my FBO’s airport managers and they are waiting for a single fuel that they can sell to all piston aircraft. They can’t afford to install a separate tank or buy a separate truck for 100UL when there are still many aircraft that require 100LL. Enough pilots need to buy the 100UL to cover their costs and produce some profit. GAMI is the farthest along on 100UL for the largest number of engines in the GA piston fleet so I say, support GAMI. It would help greatly if the FAA would drop the requirement for an STC on the make/model engine/airframe requirement. I worked in the federal government for 23 years and had an opportunity to learn how bureaucracies work. They are paralyzed by many factors: funding, incompetency at high levels, constant management changes, differing agendas at various management levels, unclear or conflicting mission requirements, a maze of legislation that defies interpretation, massive problems revising or creating new regulations, changing priorities from external entities such as the President, Congress, GA manufacturers and fuel manufacturers. It’s a wonder to me that they get anything done. Given all those obstacles, relying on the FAA to solve the unleaded fuel problem is doomed. It will take coherent pressure from the President and Congress and cooperation from GA manufacturers and fuel manufacturers. Writing to your representatives and senators is a good start to applying that pressure. Right now there is public sympathy that favors paying more for fuel to get rid of the lead since everyone agrees that lead is bad for the environment and people. If enough senators and representatives feel that public sympathy is high enough to keep them in office by supporting a push for approval of GAMI’s 100UL for piston engines and airframes, then that might produce some action from the FAA. The news media can be a help or hindrance here. Stories about bureaucratic paralysis that prevents the removal of a dangerous environmental hazard that makes people (including children) sick could help make things happen.

    • @Andrew M. “It’s a wonder to me that they get anything done.” In case you haven’t noticed, right now they aren’t getting anything done. The FAA is a classic case of an agency stuck in the middle of a problem with competing interests on both sides. In that case, the standard bureaucratic response is to appoint a committee to “study” the problem (i.e. Do nothing). They did it before with PAFI, and now they are doing it again with EAGLE.

  26. I’ve seen committees that were effective and those that weren’t. The ones that were effective did a good job of studying the issues from all angles and recommended a clear, feasible course of action to the decision maker. Sometimes there was more than one decision maker, which tended to delay or doom the decision. Other times the decision maker had a different agenda and ignored the committee’s recommendations. Sometimes the stars would align, the committee would do a good job and the decision maker would execute the recommendation. Maybe that will be the case here.