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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

FAA Sets 2018 Goal for New General Aviation Gas Source

By Woodrow Bellamy III

FAA on Monday announced plans to begin reviewing proposals for fuel options that would create a new unleaded fuel by 2018 for general aviation airplanes. 
The agency is requesting proposals from fuel producers as it looks to replace the 100 octane low-lead formula currently being used by the U.S. fleet of 167,000 general aviation aircraft. FAA is requesting proposals to be submitted by July 2014. 
“The FAA knows the general aviation community and the Environmental Protection Agency are focused on this issue, and we look forward to collaborating with fuel producers to make an unleaded avgas available for the general aviation fleet," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
Testing for new fuel sources will be broken down into two phases — a first phase of lab testing and actual aircraft engine testing during the second phase. FAA plans on selecting two fuels from phase one to move on to phase two. 
Formulas submitted by developers will be tested at FAA's laboratory near Atlantic City, using $5.6 million in funding included in the Obama administration's proposed 2014 budget.  
General aviation stakeholders have been searching for a replacement fuel for years, that would not be a "drop-in" solution, according to a statement from the General Aviation Manufacturer's Association (GAMA) in reaction to FAA's announcement. GA pilots and operators want the replacement fuel source to have as low an impact as possible on the existing GA fleet and fuel distribution system. 

“GAMA believes this funding is critical to move forward on the development and deployment of high-octane unleaded fuel that will have the least impact on the existing general aviation fleet and distribution system,” GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce noted. “We applaud Administrator Huerta and the FAA for including this as an important aspect of their FY 2014 budget request, which will help identify a viable unleaded avgas by 2018.” 

Related: Aviation Today's Checklist

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