Unleaded Aviation Fuel Initiative Gets Funding Boost

The $1.1 trillion government spending bill passed by Congress includes money for the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI), an FAA plan to start the transition to high-octane unleaded piston aviation fuel by 2018.

The appropriation for fuel research was slightly higher than the requested level through fiscal year 2014. PAFI is an FAA/industry partnership that will begin evaluating candidate fuels this summer. The program aims to replace 100 low lead avgas with unleaded gasoline that can be used in the vast majority of piston-powered general aviation airplanes.

The 2014 budget includes nearly $6 million in research and development funding for the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to conduct the fuels evaluation testing.

"This is a crucial program for the health and long-term viability of general aviation," said Doug Macnair, vice president of government relations for the Experimental Aircraft Association. "Funding PAFI at the requested level keeps us on track for a managed, sustainable, and safe transition to a high-octane unleaded replacement for 100 low lead."

Shell says it has developed an unleaded avgas replacement that's nearly ready for use, once testing is complete and certification earned. Shell worked with Piper and Lycoming in conducting preliminary tests of the 100-octane fuel, which the company says would be a drop-in replacement for 100LL.

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