AOPA works on aviation fuel specs

June 24, 2009

As the industry explores possibilities for new fuels for general aviation aircraft, AOPA continues to be actively involved in fuel issues.

The association participated in meetings this week with ASTM International, the organization that sets consensus standards for fuel used in FAA type-certificated aircraft. The meetings, held in Norfolk, Va., included discussions on leaded, unleaded, and diesel fuel specifications. As the industry researches fuel options outside of 100LL, the role of ASTM in the fuel specification process will remain important.

“In the search for alternative fuel types, it is critical that any proposed alternative is economical and operationally equivalent to the fuels used today and that it can be used without major changes to the engines in use today,” said Leisha Bell, AOPA manager of regulatory affairs. “AOPA is involved every step of the way, from the early stages of research through production.”

A newly established ASTM task force met in Norfolk to begin developing a fuel specification for diesel used in piston engines. The importance of adhering to fuel specifications was highlighted last year when ExxonMobil announced that it “does not support or endorse the supply of jet fuel (for) aircraft powered by diesel engines,” citing differences between the specifications for jet fuels and the requirements of aviation diesel engines. Jet fuel is not tested for the conditions and operation of a diesel engine. The task force is designed to address these technical concerns.

ASTM (originally known as the American Society for Testing and Materials) is one of the largest voluntary standards development organizations in the world. AOPA is a voting member of the petroleum standards development group of ASTM and works to ensure that the organization includes standards for all current and future aviation fuels.