July 27, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin - The
days are numbered for leaded aviation fuel. Federal environmental
regulations, market forces, and a shrinking infrastructure for refining,
transporting, and storing leaded fuels could send 100LL (100-octane leaded
fuel) the way of the dinosaurs. A significant portion of the general
aviation (GA) aircraft fleet is powered by engines that depend on
high-octane leaded fuel. Engine manufacturers, aeronautical engineers,
petroleum engineers, and the FAA have been working together for years to
figure out how to keep those aircraft flying on lead-free fuels.
This morning at 11:30, officials from EAA, the
FAA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the General Aviation
Manufacturers Association, and the American Society for Testing and
Materials will lead a panel discussion on the future of aviation fuels, in
Pavilion 10 at the Honda Forums Plaza, north of the OSH control tower.
It’s a complicated issue, explained Doug
Macnair, EAA vice president for government relations. To begin with,
unleaded fuel needs a higher octane rating to achieve the same engine
performance as leaded fuel. New engine technology that features electronic
controls might narrow the performance gap between leaded and unleaded
fuels for some engines. But it will still be a major challenge to achieve
unleaded octane ratings that will match the performance of high-octane
leaded fuels in real-world operating conditions.
The impending disappearance of leaded fuels
affects high-performance, high-compression engines that require the
anti-knock protection the lead provides. Much of the GA fleet operates on
midand low-compression engines that can burn unleaded alcohol-free
gasoline. But the growing use of ethanol in auto gas requires the
development of an unleaded aviation-grade gasoline that will satisfy the
needs of as much of the general aviation fleet as possible.
EAA research and government advocacy led the
way in winning FAA approval for the use of unleaded automotive fuel in
aircraft with low-compression engines. EAA will continue to support and
participate in the search for the next generation of unleaded high-octane
aviation fuels. It is part of EAA’s commitment to Stand Up for GA, to
make living the dream of flight more affordable and more accessible, and
to preserve the freedoms and privileges of personal flight.
Visit the Welcome Center at EAA AirVenture
Oshkosh or go online to www.EAA.org to
find easy and effective ways that you can Stand Up for GA.