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Business Air News
The monthly news publication for aviation professionals.
Commercialisation of FAA-approved unleaded avgas begins
NATA and NBAA have welcomed FAA issuance of STCs approving 100 octane unleaded avgas in all spark-ignition piston aircraft and engines. Distribution will be phased in gradually, with broader availability for 2024.

General Aviation Modifications Inc (GAMI) has received a functional fleet-wide approval from the FAA for G100UL avgas via the long-standing STC process, fulfilling a key first step to market introduction. Avfuel Corporation is using its logistics and distribution expertise to collaborate with GAMI on this.

“Today is a momentous occasion for the aviation industry,” says Avfuel president and CEO Craig Sincock. “Aviators have long been in search of an FAA-approved, viable, unleaded avgas solution, and GAMI receiving a functional fleet-wide approval for its G100UL is cause for celebration. Avfuel, via Avfuel Technology Initiatives Corporation (ATIC), is proud to collaborate with GAMI on the logistics of the fuel's distribution. Further, we extend a hearty thank you to GAMI for its decades of dedication to the leaded fuel problem, and the FAA for its thorough, steadfast vetting of G100UL.”

GAMI president and co-founder Tim Roehl says: “Not only can we look forward to a lead free fuel future, but the benefits of the G100UL will improve the maintainability and reliability of our engines, enhancing dispatchability and safety.”

GAMI co-founder George Braly adds: “It means that for a lot of our general aviation communities, and especially for a high fraction on the West Coast, relief is on the way. And it means that our industry will be able to go into the future and prosper and provide the essential infrastructure for this country for everything from angel flights to critical training of our future airline pilots.”

It has also been proved that G100UL can replace and mix with 100LL avgas, a key characteristic for an unleaded avgas solution as low-lead avgas is replaced location by location.

While the industry rightfully celebrates this milestone, ATIC will continue its work with GAMI to take the fuel from test batches in the lab to airport fuel tanks, using its fuel supply expertise to help the engineering company and industry counterparts navigate the complexities of commercialisation.

“We look forward to working with GAMI and all industry stakeholders, i.e. producers, distributors, trade organisations, FBOs and airports as together we make unleaded fuel a reality by moving into the commercialisation stage of this product,” says Sincock. “We encourage aviators to help this process by continuing to make their voices heard in support of unleaded avgas by communicating with their respective trade organisations.”

In particular, ATIC will support the initiative by handling the logistics of G100UL's distribution, helping to establish a supply chain for responsibly bringing the unleaded avgas to market on a commercial scale. Together, GAMI and ATIC will ensure G100UL avgas is available to all major distributors and vendors on an equitable basis in terms of access and economics.

“Our arrangement is that any qualified refiner or blender of existing aviation fuels will be eligible to produce and sell [G100UL] subject to the requirements that the FAA has approved,” Braly says.

ATIC has been in collaboration with GAMI for many years regarding the development of G100UL. ATIC will continue to provide its expertise to GAMI in an effort to work together, along with all industry counterparts, to commercialise unleaded avgas. While the commercialisation process will take time, aviators need only look to the horizon.

“G100UL avgas will expand nationally over a period of a few years at a pace driven by the rate at which the production and distribution infrastructure can be put in place,” Braly continues. “The first customers for the fuel are likely to be entities like flight schools. From there, the fuel will gradually become widely available as production of distribution infrastructure is developed.”

“Avfuel has worked to advance the unleaded avgas effort for many years, applying its expertise in areas of logistics, infrastructure and market development,” says Sincock. “Our team has done so in conjunction with a number of coalitions, such as ASTM International, the Coordinated Research Council (CRC), the PAFI programme and EAGLE, as well as engaging with many trade organisations and industry counterparts, including GAMI. It has always been our intention to do whatever we can to advance an unleaded avgas solution. Quite simply, we owe it to our industry, our communities and the companies that have worked diligently toward a suitable answer to help make a solution work.”

NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen today welcomed the FAA's signature: “We applaud the approval of G100UL for all piston-engine aircraft. It establishes a framework for other fuel producers to follow as the industry aims for a more sustainable future. NBAA members use a wide range of aircraft, including piston engine aircraft, to meet their business needs, and this decision by the FAA offers them a safe, lead-free fuel option.”

NATA too joined industry partners in welcoming the move. President and CEO Curt Castagna says: “NATA is pleased to see this advancement toward an unleaded avgas future take shape. As G100UL becomes commercially available over the next few years, we look forward to continuing to develop infrastructure support, resources and training for airports, FBOs and other refuelling operators, as well as guidance on unleaded avgas conversion considerations now for fuel service providers to support its safe and effective rollout. NATA congratulates GAMI on this achievement.”

NBAA is a member of the Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions (EAGLE) initiative, a government-industry partnership to safely eliminate the use of leaded aviation fuel by the end of 2030, without adversely affecting the existing piston engine fleet.

Initially allowed for use in Cessna 172s in 2021, G100UL was later cleared to cover a list of additional aircraft models. The approval of the fuel for the entire piston fleet marks a significant milestone in the EAGLE programme's mission to accelerate the development of leaded-fuel alternatives for all piston aircraft.

Twelve years of research and testing on G100UL were invested into the fuel's development before its recent, wide-scope approval. Formal approval to use the fuel will be implemented through the FAA's STC, demonstrating the agency has determined that engines and aircraft operating on G100UL will continue to be compliant with the airworthiness safety standard requirements for Part 33 engines and Part 23 airplanes.

It is not clear when G100UL will be widely available, as the production infrastructure for the fuel must be brought to scale, and a supply chain must be established. While this initial approval is for GAMI's G100UL, other companies are testing and evaluating their own replacements for 100LL, and will also work through the FAA's STC process.

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