The FAA is about to begin the next step in its search for an unleaded general aviation fuel through the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI). The FAA announced today it has received nine replacement fuel proposals from producers Afton Chemical Company, Avgas LLC, Shell, Swift Fuels and a consortium of BP, TOTAL and Hjelmco, for further evaluation in the PAFI, an industry-government initiative designed to help the general aviation industry transition to an unleaded aviation gasoline. The FAA will now assess the viability of the candidate fuels to determine which fuels may be part of the first phase of laboratory testing at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center. The goal is for government and industry to work together to have a new unleaded fuel by 2018.
According to the FAA, there are approximately 167,000 general aviation aircraft in the United States that rely on 100 low lead aviation gasoline for safe operation. It is the only remaining transportation fuel in the United States that contains the addition of lead, a toxic substance, to create the high octane levels needed for high-performance aircraft. The PAFI has been established to facilitate the development and deployment of a new unleaded aviation gasoline with the least impact on the existing piston-engine aircraft fleet. The PAFI is intended to play a key role in the testing and deployment of an unleaded fuel across the existing general aviation fleet. Congress authorized $6 million for the fiscal year 2014 budget to support the PAFI test program at the FAA Technical Center.