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Future Fuel?

TCM flight tests unleaded avgas

April 2, 2009 — A significant step toward establishing an alternative unleaded fuel took place this week, as Teledyne Continental Motors, Inc. (TCM) announced the first test flight using unleaded aviation fuel (94UL) in a certificated aircraft.

Essentially 100LL without the lead, 94UL may provide a long-term fuel from established sources, while imposing the least impact on the flying community, TCM said during a teleconference this week. EAA has conducted considerable research into alternative aviation fuels to ensure their members can pursue their passion for flight. Read more

TCM began testing 94UL a year ago and made the first flight using the fuel in a production G1000-equipped Hawker-Beechcraft Model 36 Bonanza on March 25. TCM believes 94 unleaded avgas is the best option because production and distribution infrastructure exists, and its higher octane allows more engine models to use it with minimum impact. TCM plans to proceed with certification on existing engines and evaluate other fuel options, including biofuel.

TCM’s efforts included participation in the Coordinated Research Council (CRC), analysis of various commercial fuel options, and extensive fuel tests on engines in the company’s dynamometer test cells. Prior to conducting its first flight, TCM reduced its flight test fuels to the unleaded fuel most likely to be submitted for certification and standardization as a piston aviation fuel.

The flight profile tested all aspects of flight including takeoff, climb, maximum power cruise, low power cruise, descent and landing. The airplane was equipped with data recording devices to provide data for post flight analysis. With the first flights complete, TCM will begin the certification process on several engine models to meet the needs for existing and future aircraft.

“TCM is committed to leading the industry towards a common 100LL alternative fuel that minimizes cost to aircraft owners,” said Rhett Ross, TCM president. The company considers 94UL as “the current best candidate” unleaded fuel to replace 100LL.

To learn more about the Continental Motors Alternative Fuels Strategy, visit www.tcmlink.com. See the video of the flight test.

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