Washington, DC–The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) today noted that the FAA has selected four unleaded aviation fuels to undergo initial testing at the agency’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, NJ. Two fuels developed by Swift Fuels and one fuel each developed by Shell and TOTAL will undergo laboratory and rig testing beginning this fall and concluding in fall 2015.
The fuels chosen were submitted for consideration through the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI), 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 GAMA and the FAA, the PAFI Steering Group includes the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the American Petroleum Institute, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the National Air Transportation Association, and the National Business Aviation Association.
“GAMA is pleased that the FAA has taken this important step forward as it continues to evaluate possible unleaded avgas replacement fuels for development and deployment,” GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said. “A successful transition to unleaded avgas is critical for ensuring the continued safety of the piston-engine fleet, providing environmental benefits, and reducing the economic impact of a transition on our industry. We appreciate the strong support of the U.S. Congress and the FAA, which have been key to moving this effort forward.”
Before choosing fuels for testing, the FAA evaluated all proposals submitted through PAFI in terms of impact on the existing fleet, production and distribution infrastructure, environmental and toxicological effects, and anticipated cost of aircraft operations.
The results of the initial testing phase will determine how many fuels continue to full-scale testing in engines and aircraft. That second phase of testing, which the FAA expects to complete in 2018, will produce standardized data to support fleet-wide certification for one or more fuels.
The testing program has earned support in Congress, which provided $6 million to fund PAFI in the 2014 Fiscal Year (FY). Both the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees have proposed providing another $6 million for the program in FY 2015.
Approximately 167,000 aircraft in the United States and a total of 230,000 worldwide rely primarily on the currently available 100 low-lead avgas for safe operation. It is the only remaining transportation fuel in the United States that contains added tetraethyl lead (TEL) needed to create the very high octane levels required by high-performance aircraft engines. Operations with inadequate octane can result in engine failures.
GAMA is an international trade association representing over 80 of the world’s leading manufacturers of general aviation airplanes and rotorcraft, engines, avionics, components and related services. GAMA’s members also operate repair stations, fixed based operations, pilot and maintenance training facilities and manage fleets of aircraft. For more information, visit GAMA’s website at www.GAMA.aero.