AVIATION FUELS: ISSUES AND ANSWERS
AVIATION FUELS: ISSUES AND ANSWERS
LY CO MIN G P R ES EN TS 10 QU E S TI O NS A BO U T FU E L S
1. Why is the ePA Acting noW to remove leAd the near term and allow our industry to logically transition
from AvgAs? to a new fuel standard without a crippling economic impact.
The fact we face is that because automobiles no longer burn It would give researchers time and resources to develop and
leaded fuel, aviation fuel has become the largest source of certify new 100 octane unleaded options. It would give owners
airborne lead emissions. By EPA reports, 45% of airborne and operators time to upgrade impacted aircraft materials
lead emissions is attributed to TEL enhanced avgas. The U.S. within the natural TBO cycles of their engines and aircraft,
Environmental Protection Agency has been petitioned by if necessary. Lycoming supports the “letter group” activities
environmental concerns and will need to act in accordance
but believes that a replacement fuel candidate needs to be
with the U.S. Clean Air Act. It has begun a process that
identified quickly to allow this program to succeed. The “R&D”
will most likely lead to the elimination of leaded aviation
part cannot last more than 1-2 years.
gasoline within this decade.
4. if my engine cAn run on loWer octAne fuel,
2. Why not just remove the leAd And go With
94ul (or Any other sub-100 octAne fuel)? Why should i suPPort A 100 octAne AvgAs
First of all, removing TEL from avgas does not result in
94UL, it results in 91UL, a fuel that has been approved by Competing voices will not serve us well. Fragmented opin-
Lycoming for at least two decades. 94UL is a special fuel, ion places the future of piston powered general aviation
and not all producers can make it today. The bigger issue is at risk. We must focus on and stabilize the future piston
that the aircraft that need 100 octane fuel to maintain their aviation gasoline fuel supply. If everyone gets behind 100
performance are also the aircraft that fly the most, use the octane, investors and the Federal Aviation Administration
most fuel, and access related aviation services most often. If are more likely to apply capital and resources to finding a
these aircraft lose access to 100 octane and can no longer 100 octane unleaded fuel replacement and bringing it to
perform the missions for which they were intended, owners
market. Without a unified voice from those who are most
and operators may decide to remove them from service,
impacted by these developments, a bad decision might be
decreasing demand for aviation grade fuel and aviation
forced on everyone. We have one chance to get this right.
services. Even expensive retrofits would likely fail to make
The industry needs an aviation grade fuel. The size of the
up for the loss in octane. To make up for the lost revenue,
providers of aviation goods and services would likely be market will only support one grade. The market has already
forced to increase prices charged to those who remain in told us once that 100 octane is the common denominator.
piston general aviation. In total, the economic cost to general The cross section of the working fleet has not changed – the
aviation could be in the billions of dollars. answer is still “100.”
3. WhAt Are generAl AviAtion-relAted 5. Why isn’t lycoming bringing A diesel engine
AssociAtions doing to meet this chAllenge to mArket?
And the needs of those they rePresent?
Lycoming has designed and tested various engine tech-
Several industry associations have formed a coalition to nologies for many years, including diesel cycle engines.
address the avgas issue. These include the Aircraft Owners
Diesel-powered aircraft have their place in aviation, but
and Pilots Association (AOPA), the American Petroleum Institute
our research has shown that gasoline-powered engines are
(API), the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the General
less costly, more efficient and serve the general aviation
Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the National Air
Transport Association (NATA), the National Business Aviation mission profile better than diesel. Lycoming continues to
Association (NBAA), and the National Petrochemical and design and test new engine technologies, but it will only
Refiners Association (NPRA). The coalition has proposed a bring them to market when they meet Lycoming’s standards
transition from 100LL to an unleaded fuel over a 10-year for reliability and durability, and industry expectations for
period. This path would reduce airborne lead emissions in overall affordability.
6. WhAt is lycoming’s “fuels strAtegy”? are already active, so let them know your preference for
Lycoming’s fuels strategy – better stated as our fuels posi- a 100 octane solution if you agree that it is appropriate.
tion – is that aviation needs aviation grade fuel. We do not Several other owner associations have also formed The Clean
manufacture fuel. Our strategy on fuel is to make certain 100 Octane Coalition. You can find out more information
that we have engines that can run on the fuels available for about this effort at 100octaneformyplane.com. Lastly, write
aviation. We can do a lot on new engines and are doing to your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives; urge them
so. However, the legacy fleet and current production aircraft to mandate a leadership role for general aviation fuels
need our support as well, and Lycoming is committed to issues within the FAA. With a mandate for 100 octane fuel
providing it. Lycoming’s product strategy is driven by the established, the industry avgas coalition can communicate
mission intent of the aircraft: A two-seat light sport aircraft consumer demand in well-worded legislation to fund research
has a vastly different purpose than a multi-seat heavy twin. and mandate FAA leadership. By speaking with one voice,
These missions are themselves vastly different from aircraft Lycoming is confident that general aviation can collectively
that will stay aloft, sometimes for eight hours or more, find a solution for the industry.
performing low-power, long-loiter missions (e.g. unmanned
aerial vehicles ). The physics of aviation propulsion tell us 10. cAn i oPerAte my engine “leAn of PeAk” (loP)?
gasoline-powered engines represent the best combination
All engines should be operated according to the guidelines
of initial cost, power-to-weight ratio, and running cost for
published in the Operating Handbook by the Type Certificate
(TC) or Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) holder. Engines
can vary widely in their operating characteristics, thus it
7. WhAt fuels Are APProved to run in my engine?
is difficult to make blanket statements about ROP or LOP
Lycoming engines have been approved to run on many grades operation. Skilled and attentive pilots – in conjunction with
of fuel – and many engine models do not need 100LL. In appropriate engines and instrumentation – have shown that
fact, 91/96 unleaded fuels have been approved on many they can operate an engine LOP. However, inadequate or
models since 1995. For an exact list, please refer to Lycoming inaccurate instrumentation, or pilots distracted by other cockpit
Service Instruction 1070P, available at Lycoming.com. Note priorities can be a problematic combination when running
that not all aircraft Pilot’s Operating Handbooks list the same LOP. If you have purchased an STC, equipping your aircraft
approved fuels. Since the market migrated to the common
with more advanced instrumentation technology to allow a
100LL solution, many aircraft list 100LL only because that
wider range of operation without detriment to the engine,
has been the only fuel available.
be certain to follow the published guidelines accompanying
the STC for that equipment. Lastly, technology like Lycoming’s
8. cAn i use Automotive gAs (mogAs) in my engine? iE2 integrated electronic engine will make discussions about
It’s important to remember that ground transportation fuel is LOP or ROP a moot point – pilots will be able to simply “fly”
customized for ground transport – short range, low altitude their aircraft knowing that electronic controls are constantly
operation. Automobile gasoline varies geographically and adjusting fuel flow to its most efficient setting.
seasonally to control emissions and provide easy “start-ability.”
Within the USA, states regulate (and mandate) inclusion of
ethanol in fuels used for “road” applications. Retail “pump find more information online:
gas” is not labeled well enough to know what you are buy-
The Need for Leaded Avgas
ing. Technically, for some engines, automotive gas could be
a solution – HOWEVER – the controls that would be required
to ensure correct operation are not generally available to The Clean 100 Octane Coalition
the retail market. http://100octaneformyplane.com
9. WhAt cAn i do to helP ensure the AvAilAbility AVweb’s Fuels Coverage
of AviAtion grAde fuel? http://tinyurl.com/27hwpna
Establishing demand for a workable solution (100UL) from
Chevron Global Aviation Fuels Technical Review
the owners associations is a key first step. AOPA and EAA
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