Engine manufacturers and airframers have long worried that the FAA would like the authority to declare the replacement fuel for 100LL as applicable for fleetwide use. But at Aero in Friedrichshafen, Germany, this week, Lycoming’s Michael Kraft told AVweb that the FAA reauthorization bill currently snaking through Congress has specific language giving the FAA administrator power to declare a fuel suitable for the entire GA fleet.
“It has language in there to actually give the administrator the toolkit to actually throw the switch on the unleaded fuel transition,” Kraft said. “It’s rather dull language to read through, but it’s incredibly meaningful because … the stumbling block has always been how do you implement the transition,” Kraft said. One big worry manufacturers had was that the new fuel, while having the correct octane, wouldn’t be an easy drop-in fit for 100LL and would require modifications to some or many engines, raising the question of who would design, certify and pay for such mods.
“It’s a big deal. The logistic picture on a new fuel never ceases to amaze me on how hard changing the world over to a different fuel actually is,” Kraft added. Two fuels recently emerged from the FAA’s Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative, one from Shell and one from Swift Fuel. The second phase of testing now begins, to include more test cell work and actual flight testing. A fuel is expected to be approved by 2018. Hear more on the subject in this exclusive podcast with Lycoming’s Michael Kraft.