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AirVenture 2023 Avgas Update

July, 2023 — EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2023 provides the general aviation community with the ability to attend a number of forums and to learn about many different topics, subject matters, and issues. Those interested in hearing the status of the industry’s transition to an unleaded fuel will have the opportunity to hear from a number of different perspectives. These begin with an update from the FAA and industry’s Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions (EAGLE) initiative in the Theater in the Woods today at noon. Included in the forum will be an update provided by each of the four sponsors developing a candidate unleaded fuel as a potential replacement for 100LL. Throughout the week, there will also be a number of forums presented by fuel sponsors and engine manufacturers highlighting their views on the issue.

EAGLE Initiative: Commitment TO AN UNLEADED FUEL
The general aviation industry trade associations, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Federal Aviation Administration established the EAGLE initiative in 2022 with the goal of eliminating the use of leaded aviation fuels as soon as practicable without adversely impacting the safe and efficient operation of the existing GA fleet, but no later than the end of 2030.

There are two pathways available to obtain FAA authorization for the use of a new fuel: (1) an FAA aviation fuel fleet authorization process established by Congress through a collaborative industry/government testing program called the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI); and (2) the traditional FAA aircraft supplemental type certification (STC) process. There are two active fuels in the PAFI test program as part of the development and testing process: fuel producers Afton Chemical teaming with Phillips 66, and LyondellBasell partnering with VP Racing. Both recently adjusted the treat rate of their respective octane-enhancing additives to better balance engine performance and fuel production. Both fuel developers are continuing in the program and shipped fuel to undergo critical detonation and endurance testing with expected completion this summer before moving into full scale fleet authorization testing. There are two fuel developers pursuing traditional FAA STC approval of high-octane unleaded fuels: General Aviation Modifications Inc. (GAMI) and Swift Fuels Inc. On September 1, 2022, the FAA issued an approved model list supplemental type certificate (AML-STC) to GAMI for G100UL unleaded avgas. This AML-STC represents the first FAA authorization for use of a high-octane unleaded fuel for general aviation piston aircraft and marks the beginning of the complex work that remains to identify a commercial pathway for production and distribution necessary for the fuel to be viable in the marketplace and become available at airports across the country. Swift is also developing a high-octane unleaded fuel and has made application to the FAA while working to obtain an AML-STC for eligible aircraft and engines. Swift has publicly stated that it hopes to achieve initial FAA STC approval for a 100-octane unleaded fuel (100R) in 2023.

EAGLE’s efforts to support all fuel sponsors continue as member companies of the sponsoring associations provide technical support to the PAFI testing of the Afton Chemical/Phillips 66 and LyondellBasell/VP Racing fuels. Additionally, GAMI and Swift Fuels are supported in their efforts as sponsoring associations and member companies, including producers, distributors, FBOs, and manufacturers that continue to work to facilitate stakeholder understanding of the fuels to enable support for deployment and use. EAGLE supports each of the fuel developers Afton/Phillips 66, LyondellBasell/VP Racing, GAMI, and Swift Fuels. EAGLE understands that each company makes its own business decisions in choosing what path to pursue for FAA approval/authorization and its approach to commercialize and deploy into the market. However, regardless of their approach, FAA safety approval/authorization and acceptance and support of key stakeholders who must make the business decision to produce, purchase, transport, store, dispense, and use a new fuel in order to be successful in commercialization and deployment into the market are necessary.

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