FAA solicits fuels in search of unleaded avgas

June 10, 2013

Unleaded avgas search

The General Aviation Avgas Coalition praised the FAA’s announcement June 10 to formally request sample unleaded fuels for testing as possible replacements to the 100LL aviation gasoline that GA aircraft use today.

The General Aviation Avgas Coalition, comprised of AOPA, American Petroleum Institute (API), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), noted that the FAA’s move to begin reviewing possible fuels is a significant step in the search for an unleaded aviation gasoline that will perform adequately in all types of GA aircraft.

“AOPA and our general aviation partners have been pressing for timely action on the search for a safe, affordable alternative to 100 low lead avgas,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “We are pleased that the FAA is continuing to take concrete steps to help the aviation industry move forward with the testing and evaluation of promising avgas alternatives. We understand the complexities of this search, and we are confident that diligent work will help us find an acceptable fuel source that is safe for pilots, the public and the environment.”

While the aviation industry has long acknowledged that an unleaded avgas is desirable, finding a workable unleaded replacement has proven difficult. Most significant is the realization that a replacement fuel will not be a “drop in” solution, thus requiring the recertification of the entire fleet of existing aircraft. As a result, the FAA program will assess the viability of candidate fuels in terms of impact upon the existing fleet, production and distribution infrastructure, environment, and toxicology and economic considerations.

In 2012, an industry-government committee called the Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee (UAT ARC) developed a fuel development roadmap to structure the search for a suitable replacement to 100LL. One of the recommendations called for an FAA Fuels Program Office, which was established in 2012.

The Fuels Program Office is leading the effort to produce fuel property and performance data that will be used by the fuel industry and regulatory agencies to evaluate unleaded gas replacement for eventual fleet-wide deployment.

Additionally, the fiscal year 2014 FAA budget includes $5.6 million in funding to centralize avgas alternative assessment and testing. The work will be conducted at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center and determine standardized qualification and certification data for candidate unleaded fuels to ensure the safety of the existing aircraft fleet.