FAA Selects Four Unleaded Fuels for Testing

Trials could create lead-free avgas by 2018.

Avgas Testing

Avgas Testing

The FAA has selected four unleaded aviation fuels for testing at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for the first phase of a government and industry initiative to begin phasing out leaded aviation gasoline as early as 2018.

Shell and Total have each submitted one unleaded fuel for testing while Swift Fuels has created two candidate fuels. The companies will now work with the FAA on initial testing, which will start this fall and last about a year.

"We're committed to removing harmful lead from general aviation fuel," said Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This work will benefit the environment and provide a safe and available fuel for our general aviation community."

Fuel producers in July submitted potential 100LL replacement fuels for further evaluation by the FAA as part of the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI). The FAA assessed candidate fuels in terms of their impact on the existing fleet of general aviation airplanes, production and distribution infrastructure, the impact on the environment, toxicology and cost.

Based on the results of the Phase 1 laboratory and rig testing, the FAA anticipates that two or three fuels will be selected for Phase 2 engine and aircraft testing.

For Phase 1 testing, fuel developers will supply 100 gallons of fuel. Successful fuels will move on to aircraft and engine testing. Phase 2 will involve production of 10,000 gallons of each candidate fuel, which the FAA will use to generate standardized qualification and certification data, as well as detailed fuel property and engine performance data.

Congress has authorized $6 million for the fiscal year 2014 budget to support the PAFI test program at the FAA Technical Center.

Around 167,000 general aviation aircraft in the United States run on 100LL low-lead aviation gasoline. It is the only remaining transportation fuel in the United States that contains lead, which is toxic to humans.

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