One year after four fuels were selected for testing as potential replacements for leaded avgas, progress remains steady and the first phase of testing should be completed on schedule in late 2015, according to members of the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative.
Members of the group, including AOPA, continue to meet regularly to review progress and plan for future elements of the ongoing unleaded aviation fuel testing program.
“The candidate fuels were selected for testing in September 2014. Today, everything is on track to complete the first phase of testing this year and select fuels for the second phase of testing in early 2016,” said David Oord, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs and AOPA’s representative on the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative Steering Group. “Right now, the process is focusing on material compatibility tests and rig testing for the four candidate fuels, and we expect many of those tests to be completed soon.”
The fuels also are being subjected to tests for low temperature fuel flow, carburetor icing, hot surface ignition, storage stability, detonation, particulate emissions, and more. While some of those tests have been completed, others are expected to continue through late 2015.
“This is a complex effort with a lot of moving parts, but the FAA, industry, and the GA community are committed to finding a safe, reliable replacement for leaded avgas,” said Oord. “Everyone is working together to manage the process and keep it on target.”
At the end of the first phase of testing, the most promising fuels will move to the second phase, which will involve full-scale testing in engines and aircraft. The core objective of the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative is to "identify a suitable unleaded avgas by 2018" that will have the least impact on existing piston-engine aircraft; the program is on target to reach that goal.
All of the fuels being tested were submitted for consideration through the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative, a joint industry-government effort to facilitate the development and deployment of a new unleaded avgas that will meet the needs of the existing piston-engine aircraft fleet. In addition to AOPA and the FAA, the steering group includes the American Petroleum Institute, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the National Air Transportation Association, and the National Business Aviation Association.