Aircraft operators in California will likely be the first to be able to fill their tanks with unleaded 100 octane aviation fuel. General Aviation Modifications Inc. Head of Engineering, George Braly told AVweb the company has signed a licencing agreement with petroleum company Vitol Aviation and that company is now in the process of producing the first large scale batches of G100UL® Avgas. At this time, the expectation is that G100UL Avgas will be available to the west coast in the first half of this year. “The initial deployment will be in California,” said Braly. Vitol is now reconfiguring refining, blending, and storage facilities in the Gulf Coast area to produce the fuel and has obtained the necessary authorizations from the FAA to make and sell it. Braly said it’s still not clear which airports will inaugurate the sale of G100UL but several airports have banned the sale of leaded aviation fuel and those who need the higher octane have to fill up elsewhere.
In September of 2022, GAMI obtained a blanket supplementary type certificate (STC with Approved Model List) that allows the use of G100UL in every gasoline engine used in certified aircraft in the U.S. To use the fuel, aircraft owners have to buy the STC for their aircraft, which Braly says is a simple one-time online form for each aircraft. The cost is based on the horsepower of the engine in the plane. The fuel will also cost more than 100LL. “The premium components required to make this fuel cost more,” he said. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” The costs of the components in a gallon of G100UL avgas is between 85 cents and $1.15 per gallon more than the cost of those components used in making a gallon of 100LL. That difference depends on fluctuating market prices for the ingredients. How much those costs will translate into the ultimate pump price will be up to the various wholesalers, distributors and FBO retailers in the supply chain.
Braly said the ultimate goal is to make the fuel available everywhere as the industry transitions out of the use of leaded fuel in compliance with federal regulations that are expected to ban its use in the next decade. G100UL is not formally in or part of the FAA/ aviation industry’s Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions (EAGLE), as GAMI had already obtained its initial AML STC before that program was created in early 2022. However, G100UL Avgas remains the only visible high octane replacement for 100LL that has so far been approved for use. Swift Fuels has an unleaded 100 octane fuel under development as does a partnership between Lyondell, a chemical company, and VP Racing, which makes fuels for racing engines. Phillips Petroleum and chemical company Lyondell have paused the evaluation of their fuel in the EAGLE program because it failed a key test in the evaluation process. EAGLE has set 2030 to have a universal replacement for 100LL “without adversely impacting the safe and efficient operation of the existing fleet.”
GAMI has been working with AOPA to demonstrate the fuel by running one of the engines on AOPA’s Beech Baron on G100UL and the other on 100LL. The dual fuel Baron started with freshly overhauled engines and has now flown over a hundred hours in that configuration and will take part in the AOPA Fly-in at the Buckeye Air Fair at Buckeye Airport in Arizona from Feb. 16-18. Braly said AOPA President Mark Baker has played a key role in getting the fuel into the public eye with the Baron demonstration and participation in the air show.
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