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ASTM Test Standard Passed for Unleaded Swift Fuel

EAA working with avgas developers in unified effort

May 24, 2011 — The establishment of an ASTM International standard that enables coordinated testing of Swift Enterprises’ proposed Grade UL102 unleaded aviation fuel is another milestone in determining if such a fuel can replace the current 100-octane low-lead in widespread use for piston-powered aircraft.

ASTM International granted the application for ASTM D7719* “Standard Specification for High Octane Unleaded Test Fuel,” which creates a common standard for further testing. That testing must be completed successfully before an actual production specification could be approved and wholesale certification of aircraft and engines begins.

“This is an essential step in the process to advance the possibilities for unleaded aviation fuel,” said Doug Macnair, EAA’s vice president of government relations and a member of the FAA’s Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee. “Through the FAA’s rulemaking committee, EAA is working directly with Swift, GAMI, and others who want to be a part of the process of finding a viable replacement for leaded aviation fuel.

“While we’re still a long way from seeing high-octane unleaded avgas at the local FBO, this test standard will allow comprehensive testing to go forward on Swift fuel under a common specification, allowing accurate data comparison using a consistent fuel formulation.”

Swift’s fuel, called 100SF, meets the ASTM test standard proposed and sponsored by Swift Enterprises. Swift reports this specification is modeled after ASTM D910, the current specification for 100LL fuel, in an effort to ensure the continued safe operation of every aircraft/engine in the fleet.
For nearly 20 years, EAA has been working with the petroleum and aviation industries to develop a suitable unleaded replacement for 100LL. As the regulatory and economic future of leaded fuel has become more uncertain, Swift officials began development of a potential replacement.   

Meanwhile, concern over the future of leaded fuels used in general aviation resulted in the formation of the Avgas Coalition, representing a broad cross-section of the GA and petroleum industries. The coalition’s task was to develop a path for the evaluation, introduction, and wholesale use of an unleaded high-octane replacement for 100LL.

In a related move, the FAA administrator formed – at the coalition’s request – an Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee to focus on the technical, economic, and production/distribution issues relating to the transition to an unleaded avgas. Both EAA and Swift are members of this committee, which also includes AOPA, GAMI, aircraft and engine manufacturers, petroleum producers, and representatives of FBOs and fuel distributors. The initial test specification for unleaded fuel candidates is a necessary intermediate step in the testing and evaluation process.

ASTM D7719 does not yet allow for UL102 to be sold at airports commercially but does allow Swift to test UL102 in non-experimental aircraft, thereby eliminating significant time and expenses from each industry testing program. Another major advantage of a test fuel specification is that it ensures that test fuel delivered by Swift to individual test agencies meets the same performance parameters every time, thereby guaranteeing consistency in the tests and fuel quality.  Swift can then focus on working with industry partners to gather additional data to transform D7719 into a commercial specification.  

“Added to what Swift has already accomplished via industry testing and collaboration, we believe that this achievement proves that the ASTM process works and can be completed with the proper technical diligence and industry collaboration,” said Mary Rusek, president of Swift Enterprises.
A separate ASTM committee is currently working on the development of a test specification for GAMI’s proposed UL100G unleaded high-octane fuel.

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