The FAA has selected two unleaded fuels to move to the next phase of testing for use in general aviation aircraft.
In a March 29 announcement, the FAA said fuels from Shell and Swift Fuels will move to Phase 2 testing in aircraft and engines. The fuels were selected from four initial candidates—two from Swift Fuels, one from Shell, and one from TOTAL—identified in September 2014.
Additional tests on the two finalist fuels are scheduled to begin this summer and be completed in 2018, according the FAA. Data from those tests will be used to help the companies obtain an ASTM International production specification for their fuels, which would allow the FAA to authorize the existing GA fleet to use the new fuels.
“It’s important for general aviation to be ready to move away from leaded fuel, and today’s announcement that two fuels have been selected for further testing is another key step down that path,” said David Oord, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. “The program is on track and the candidate fuels are promising, which is good news for GA.”
The development and deployment of a new unleaded aviation fuel is being facilitated through the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI), a government-industry partnership that includes AOPA.
The first phase of testing included material compatibility tests and six rig tests. The fuels were subjected to tests for low-temperature fuel flow, carburetor icing, hot surface ignition, storage stability, detonation, particulate emissions, and more. The process also included a review of production and distribution costs and environmental factors. Based on the testing data and feasibility assessments, the FAA selected two fuels to move forward with Phase 2 testing.
Congress appropriated $7 million for the fiscal year 2016 budget to support the PAFI test program at the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center and several other locations throughout the country. The reauthorization bills that are currently pending in the House and Senate include future funding for the program.