Swift Fuel prepares for flight tests

December 15, 2009

Swift Enterprises has announced Dec. 14 that it will begin large-scale tests of its unleaded, renewable fuel that it hopes to offer as a drop-in replacement for avgas.

The Indiana-based company uses biomass such as sorghum and switch grass to produce a high-octane fuel that it says could replace leaded avgas in piston-engine airplanes. The fuel has been tested in FAA and independent laboratories and flown in a few Experimental-category airplanes.

The test program will be coordinated with the FAA, and an extensive series of flight tests, data gathering, and evaluations must be conducted before the fuel known as 100SF can be certified for broad use in the general aviation fleet. Swift officials said the tests will begin as soon as the company receives FAA approval, and the tests themselves are likely to last up to two years.

Engine and airframe manufacturers with sophisticated data gathering equipment will perform the bulk of the flight tests.

Unlike other unleaded fuels, 100SF has an octane rating as high as avgas. Swift Enterprises has built a pilot plant in West Lafayette, Ind., the company says can produce about 200 gallons of 100SF a day.

Swift officials say 100SF will be “comparably priced, environmentally friendlier, and more fuel efficient” than avgas.