Poll: Does ASTM Matter For Unleaded Fuel Approval?

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. It depends–do you put your trust with the ASTM geeks? With FAA bureaucrats? Or in the free market?

    ASTM has been “studying” this for some time. All they have produced are dubious “standards.”

    The FAA is more interested in “setting policy” than it is about practical applications. (THINK ABOUT IT–IF FACED WITH A LIFE & DEATH SITUATION, WOULD YOU FOLLOW FAA DICTUMS?). Government “regulators” are always far behind the industries they purport to regulate.

    The free market, however, has produced a licensed and viable alternative (THANK YOU, MR. Braley!) despite government foot-dragging in approval, while they waited for government programs to try to “catch up.”

    To complete the comparison, don’t forget that Samuel Pierpont Langlie had huge government backing in trying to produce a “flying machine”–and failed miserably. Meanwhile, two bicycle builders–self-funded–managed to succeed where big government had failed (it could be said that this was COMMON in aviation!–laugh)

  2. I worked with ASTM in the ’80s on ambulance requirements and totally agree with Braly. ASTM got “all the parties” together in an endless succession of meetings to set “standards” for ambulance equipment and hence treatments. Meetings were totally dominated by fire chiefs, companies that sold equipment, supplies and rigs, and political appointees. The level of self serving (greed) and ignorance (mostly wilful) was high and the interest in doing what was best for patients (i.e. the public) was very low. After wasting a few years all the physician and other provider groups pulled out. ASTM is great at setting technical standards when there is no money on the table. Let them decide how thick pipes should be.

  3. I just read ASTM D910. a good specification. All it needs is a line of 100 unleaded. and in the requirements an exemption to the mandate for lead and a new dye color. Then it has to meet the performance requirements. there SHOULD be no argument. each requirement is there due to industry needs. there should not be a panel at all. UNLESS A KEY REQUIREMENT CANNOT BE MET. then a review of that requirement and it basis of need should be performed. BUT th formulation of not one of the current fuels is ion the spec and there is no reason for it and the reported reason that GAMI fuel has not been accepted is that GAMI has not supplied the formutaion. I have dealt w ASTM specs oofr 42 years . i NEVER had to verify or supply a formulation to the ASTM. this is a perfromance spec. NOT a formulation spec.

  4. There are big advantages to have an ASTM standard, because what is says is that the entire world wide industry is backing up the product. For US aircraft engine manufacturers it is important that any future unleaded AVGAS can be produced by SEVERAL producers around in the world and with components available basically everywhere. For tailoring a new unleaded AVGAS it is natural that new components will be added to the fuel formula. For the current only remaining PAFI fuel being tested that fuel is said to contain ETBE (ethanol ether). If you want to produce an AVGAS with ETBE you must know that the ETBE follows a strict norm quality wise. No-one wants a component with of unknown quality to enter a fuel stream in aviation . In this case the ASTM has produced a standard for the ETBE component being used in such an AVGAS formula. I chaired that ASTM task-force and had a retired chief engineer from Cessna Mr Cesar Gonzalez as the secretary. The only sad thing was that I had to chair the task-force for 10 years before the standard was approved. But the end-result is — there is a now a standard for ETBE which can be used in the entire world and that will secure the quality of a future potential unleaded AVGAS.
    US consumers has to understand that the world is more than the US and that the world of aviation goes beyond single countries. Aviation is a way of travelling for which there shall be no borders.
    FYI, I pionered with unleaded AVGAS with nationwide distribution in the Kingdom of Sweden already year 1981. My second generation of unleaded AVGAS for mid octane engines (91/96 octane engines) was approved by the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority year 1991. This fuel was approved by Lycoming year 1995 in their SI 1070. This fuel is the standard fuel in Sweden today with multi million flight hours. My third generation of unleaded AVGAS an 100 UL was produced in year 2006 and tested together with the Swiss Civil Aviation Authority.
    A full report of > 400 pages is published on my webb-page
    It has not been put onto the market yet – because lead is still the way of producing the lowest cost 100 octane AVGAS.
    I have an advantage, I design the fuels, produce them in own plant, distribute them by own trucks and have > 100 AVGAS own refueling stations in Sweden. In this way it has been possible to secure quality and safe fuels, take initiative and also responsibility.

    • Just curious how the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority approved your UL fuel as a replacement for 100LL to overcome the type certificate requirement for 100LL (blue)/100/130 (green) typically found in the certification. STC? Blanket statement of equivalence with legal standing for your specific product? ASTM standard? Modified TCs to get SCAA approval?

      My C172 POH says nothing about D910 or any other standard for fuel type other than 100LL (blue) or 100/130 (green). The oil types on the other hand are all MIL-L-XXX referenced. At some point the FAA will have to address the type certificate required fuel issue.

  5. Response to jsalak.
    Very easy. Many engines from Lycoming carried/carries today the FAA-type certificates for AVGAS 91/96.
    It is even stamped on the engine plate of the engines.
    AVGAS 91/96 did only have a maximum amount of lead stated. So zero amount was fully in conformity with the ASTM D910 standard and also the older military standard that existed before the D910.
    You shall follow the POH – yes – but first look at the engine book and what is stamped on the engine.
    Then in Europe the EASA- equivalent to your FAA, took the step to make their own standard over-riding the FAA- type certificate of the aircraft in question – thus no STC was needed.

    ASTM D910 standard is the standard for your AVGAS 100 LL.