FAA Approves Four Lead-Free Fuels for Initial Testing
Earlier today the FAA announced that they have approved initial testing for four alternative, lead-free avgas fuel options.
In July they recieved nine fuel proposals from Afton Chemical Company, Avgas LLC, Shell, Swift Fuels and a consortium of BP, TOTAL and Hjelmco to be tested at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center. The four selected include two from Swift Fuels, one from Shell, and one from TOTAL.
"We’re committed to getting harmful lead out of general aviation fuel,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, as published in the July 10 FAA press release. “This work will benefit the environment and provide a safe and available fuel for our general aviation community.”
In a field of constant engineering and progress, it is surprising that AvGas is the last leaded fuel.
Congress has budgeted $6 million for the project, consisting of 2 phases of testing. Phase 1 is the laboratory and rig test program and expected to take about one year. Two or three fuels will be selected for Phase 2, which will consist of aircraft and engine testing.
There are approximately 167,000 general aviation aircraft in the United States that rely on 100 low lead aviation gasoline for safe operation. It is the only remaining transportation fuel in the United States that contains the addition of lead, a toxic substance, to create the very high octane levels needed for high-performance aircraft. (FAA press release, July 2014)