Poll: Do You Think the Higher Cost of Unleaded Avgas Will Pay Off in Lower Maintenance?


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  1. Doubtful. At 60-90 cents a gallon more than 100LL, a pilot flying a Skyhawk 100 hours a year at 8 GPH would pay an additional $480 a year at 60 cents a gallon, or $900 at 90 cents a gallon.

    A flight school operating 600 hours per year would pay an additional $2880 per year at 60 cents a gallon, or $4320 more per year. In either case, I don’t think maintenance savings will begin to equal the extra cost.

    IF (big IF) the cost came down to the present cost of 100LL, FBOs like mine would have to make a choice–convert to the new fuel, or not? I believe that at the same price, the new fuel is viable–but at a higher price, you will be seeing a LOT more auto fuel trucked to the airport–and that would mean either fewer FBOs–or the even more widespread “ramp fees” at airports. Neither is good for the industry.

  2. The most obvious maintenance reducing benefit of unleaded avgas will be less frequent oil change intervals (based on oil condition/contamination). In my Mirage, oil changes are every 25-30 hours at a cost of about $250 including filter, suction screen inspection, cowling R&R, etc. That should easily double, perhaps more. Other expected longer term benefits will reduce major maintenance events because of much less combustion deposits and contaminants in the engine. Being able to finally use full synthetic oil will also reduce operating costs.

    The question is somewhat academic because the environmental/political forces do not care if unleaded fuel is 15% more expensive. Heck, they don’t care whether we fly at all. Now that an unleaded, full-octane, fungible fuel is a reality, 100LL’s days are numbered. GA piston flyers are no match for the coming environmental forces. It’s already started. https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2021/08/16/update-reid-hillview-airport-starts-using-unleaded-fuel-in-wake-of-environmental-study/

  3. And we are supposed to base a national transportation study, based on an admittedly biased local issue in (of all places) California? They’ve pulled out all the stops on this one–commissioning the very same study group that did the Flint, Michigan studies to find environmental issues at Reid-Hillview. Never mind that this “study” is hardly neutral. Never mind that the neighborhood around the airport has been trying to close it for years–only NOW seizing on “environmental” issues, and even attempting to make it a racial issue by claiming that “poor black families are disproportionately affected.” Never mind that these same families moved into housing around the airport by choice.

    Here’s a better source–rather than hype and hysteria, they publish the ACTUAL NUMBERS on lead contamination. https://sanjosespotlight.com/san-jose-airport-lead-levels-are-average-despite-alarm/

    Some excerpts:

    Despite Santa Clara County officials describing lead exposure from Reid-Hillview Airport as a decades-long health crisis, a county-commissioned study shows elevated blood lead levels consistent with the state average.
    The report, released last week, found that out of 17,000 blood samples from children ages 0-18 within 1.5 miles of the airport, only 1.7% have elevated lead levels which call for further testing and observation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s threshold. The statewide average of children who meet the same criteria is between 1.5% and 2.6% depending on age.

    The levels are also similar to neighboring counties. North of Santa Clara County, 1.5% of Alameda County children were found to have elevated blood levels, while approximately 2% of Santa Cruz County children showed elevated lead levels, based on data collected in 2018 by nonprofit research organization Population Reference Bureau.

    More than 4.5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood is considered an elevated lead level, as defined by the CDC, and medical intervention is required when more than 45 micrograms of lead are detected in a child.

    Santa Clara County officials, led by Supervisor Cindy Chavez, have been gunning to close the airport for years. They say the airport signals issues of racial inequity because it endangers families living in vulnerable East San Jose neighborhoods, including communities of color, and the land could be better suited for affordable housing. Opponents of closing the airport say it helps alleviate air traffic for smaller planes and can be used in emergency situations.

    SO–THE LEAD CONTENT IS NOT ONLY NORMAL–but slightly BELOW. It is far BELOW the point where medical intervention is suggested or required. And the proponents of closure SOUGHT OUT A PROPONENT OF CLOSURE to do the study, NOT an independent source.

    And the media wonders why they are losing subscribers, viewers, and credibility.

  4. Shame on the pilots and owners at Reid-Hillview for their attempt to assuage the anti-airport crowd by stating “we will gladly pay the extra cost of trucking it in from Indiana.” It’s a transparent attempt to “feed everyone ELSE to the crocodile, in the hopes of being eaten LAST.”–Winston Churchill.

    While they mention the cost of trucking fuel from Indiana to California–none of these “caring souls” mention the ENVIRONMENTAL COST OF DOING SO. That’s 500 gallons of extra fuel burned in the truck going into the air (but not THEIR AIR!)

    Nobody mentions that aviation can use unleaded auto gas. About 70% of GA airplanes can burn it–including the Skyhawks shown in the TV standup–yet no mention of that capability. A quick check of ForeFlight shows than NONE of the 3 FBOs listed carries it. Wouldn’t you think that these “concerned pilots” would ASK the airport to carry it instead of trucking fuel from Indiana? (Or at least bring it in 5 gallon cans–if they are “environmentally concerned”?)

    Unleaded 100 octane DOES have a future–and the industry will readily buy it if and when the price is even close to 100LL–but in the meantime, this is Kabuki Theatre–more interested in going through the motions than the actual content.