May 17, 2004 - What will fuel your aircraft's engine in the future when oil companies eventually stop making 100-octane low lead (100LL) aviation gasoline? Rising prices for automotive gasoline is drawing a great deal of attention nationally, but within the aviation industry, there continues to be discussion on the future availability of 100LL avgas. It's a problem that probably won't affect pilots for years, but it's an issue that AOPA knows is coming and is actively involved in finding a solution.
AOPA is supporting FAA and industry research into unleaded aviation gasoline that will safely satisfy the operational needs of the existing fleet. AOPA has also successfully lobbied for continued FAA research into technologies for modifications of existing general aviation piston engines to enable a transition to a more environmentally friendly and economically viable general aviation fuel.
A meeting AOPA attended recently detailed the lab work under way to find a replacement for 100LL. A number of alternatives show promise, but all still need further development. As a full member of the Coordinating Research Council, AOPA is working to ensure that a viable alternative is found, tested, and certified before 100LL is phased out.
In the early 1990s, AOPA lobbied forcefully and successfully to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from banning the use of leaded aviation gasoline. However, the EPA banned all other leaded gasoline, so general aviation was left as the nation's sole user of a leaded motor fuel.
"Avgas has become a 'boutique' fuel," said AOPA Manager of Regulatory and Certification Policy Rob Hackman. "Not much of it is produced, so it costs nearly twice as much as unleaded fuel."
AOPA has successfully lobbied for funding each year so that the FAA's Technical Center can continue research on an acceptable alternative to 100LL avgas that is affordable and would require little or no modification to the existing fleet.
"When a suitable high-octane unleaded replacement fuel is found, AOPA will be there to advocate for quick certification by the FAA," said Hackman.