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EAA Says ‘No’ to Increased Ethanol Blending in Auto Fuel


May 21, 2009 — EAA is strongly opposing a petition (EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0211) to the EPA from the ethanol producers trade group, Growth Energy, and 54 other ethanol producers to increase the percentage of ethanol that can be blended with automobile gasoline, from 10 percent to 15 percent. EAA and its members have been fighting for the right to obtain auto fuel gasoline that is free of ethanol for several years.

Here are the facts:

  • EAA, Cessna Aircraft Corporation, and FAA studies have proven that ethanol-blended fuels are harmful to piston-powered general aviation aircraft and their fuel system components (fuel lines, fuel pumps, seals, and fuel tanks).
  • Ethanol increases the vapor pressure of gasoline forming gaseous bubbles in the fuel system resulting in vapor lock. Vapor lock starves the engine of fuel and causes engine failure in flight with little or no opportunity for restart. This is a critical safety issue.
  • To date, EAA and Petersen Aviation have issued 57,600 FAA-approved Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) to type certificated aircraft owners authorizing them to use auto fuel as their primary fuel. Despite several attempts by EAA and others, ethanol-blended gasolines have not been able to meet the FAA flight safety fuel certification standards. As a result, the FAA prohibits these STC holders from using auto fuel containing ethanol.
  • Nearly all of the 28,000+ experimental amateur-built aircraft flying today are also eligible to use auto fuel. Experimental aircraft do not need an FAA approved STC to operate with motor gasoline.
  • There are an estimated 5,000 ultralight vehicles and 8,000 experimental light sport aircraft with engines requiring the use of auto fuel. Ultralights and E-LSAs do not require an STC to operate with auto fuel.
  • The majority of LSA, the fastest growing segment of recreational aviation, are eligible to use auto fuel and many require it. These aircraft do not need an STC to operate with auto fuel.
  • The most popular engines for ultralights, LSA and many amateur-built aircraft owners are made by Rotax. All Rotax models are designed and approved to operate with auto fuel, and most models of Rotax engines contain a warning in the operators manual stating that even small amounts of ethanol in auto fuels “could cause troubles.” The four-stroke Rotax engines have been approved to operate on up to five percent ethanol, however this is far below the levels found in the currently available fuel.

Several other small-engine recreational users and industries are also urging the EPA to decline the ethanol industry’s petition, including Marco Sportfishing Club; Tyson Foods, Inc.; The Poultry Federation of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma; Cape Romain Bird Observatory; Captain Pete’s Jetski Service; Kelly’s Small Engines; Smith Mountain Yacht Club, Inc.; Advanced Marine Services, and others.

EAA members can also submit comments to the petition at the Regulations.gov website. To enter a comment, click on the yellow “Add Comments” icon. Deadline for submission is July 20, 2009.

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