The FAA is moving to the next stage of its program to find viable replacements for leaded avgas. Under the the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI), July 1 marked the deadline for candidate fuels to be submitted to the program for review.
So far, the FAA has accepted nine fuels for evaluation as replacements to 100 low-lead avgas. This marks significant progress in its quest to find unleaded replacement for the entire aviation fleet. Worldwide, about 230,000 aircraft rely on 100 low-lead avgas, and about 167,000 of those are based in the United States.
“Aviation organizations, the petroleum industry, and the FAA are working collaboratively to ensure the aviation community will have access to unleaded fuel that meets performance and safety standards, is affordable, and can be used by the existing fleet with minimal disruption,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “We are pleased with the progress so far and look forward to the next phase.”
The AOPA is a member of the PAFI Steering Group, which also includes the Experimental Aircraft Association, American Petroleum Institute, National Air Transportation Association, the National Business Aviation Association, and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
After proposals are reviewed, the most promising fuels will begin the first phase of laboratory testing, set to begin in September at the Hughes Technical Center. Here full-scale testing in engines and planes will occur and manufacturers of fuel will need to show scalability of production and fleet-wide certification data.
The FAA has set a goal of deploying an unleaded avgas by 2018, and Congress has expressed support for the program, providing $6 million in funding this year and proposing the same level of funding for 2015.