Business & GA

Get the Lead Out: The FAA Selects Unleaded Fuels to Test for General Aviation

By Juliet Van Wagenen | September 9, 2014
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[Avionics Today 09-09-2014] In a combined effort by the government and industry to reduce toxic lead emissions for general aviation by 2018, the FAA has selected four unleaded fuels for the first phase of testing at the William J. Hughes Technical Center.

Shell Tanker refueling aircraft on runway
Aircraft being refueled. Photo: Wikipedia

Approximately 167,000 general aviation aircraft in the United States rely on 100 low-lead aviation gasolines for safe operation. The small quantity of lead in the fuel creates the very high-octane levels needed for high-performance aircraft, but lead is considered a toxic substance and low-lead is the only remaining transportation fuel in the United States that contains the harmful element.

In order to eliminate lead emissions, the FAA-assessed candidate fuels in terms of their impact on the existing fleet, the production and distribution infrastructure, the impact on the environment, toxicology and the cost of aircraft operations. Having been chosen, Shell and TOTAL, with one fuel each, and Swift Fuels, with two fuels, will now work with the FAA on phase-one testing of the unleaded gasoline, which will begin this fall and conclude in fall 2015. Based on the results of phase-one laboratory and rig testing, the FAA anticipates that two or three of the fuels will be selected for phase-two engine and aircraft testing. That testing will generate standardized qualification and certification data for candidate fuels, along with property and performance data.

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