There is a growing sentiment among pilots of some general aviation aircraft that what they call the “alphabets” (referring to the coalition formed by general aviation professional organizations) are not headed in the right direction to find a solution to the unleaded Avgas issue. There is growing concern that not only will leaded Avgas (LL100) disappear but that Mogas (ethanol free unleaded automotive gasoline) will also. Mogas is often the fuel of choice for pilots of smaller general aviation aircraft and light sport aircraft (LSA), mostly because it is less expensive and works well in their aircraft.
Mogas is becoming harder to find as the EPA pushes for use of more ethanol in all unleaded gasoline. There is growing evidence that ethanol is causing deterioration of seals and corroding engine parts both in automobiles and boats. Pilots fear if they are forced to use an unleaded blend containing ethanol that they will face the same problems.
One pilot who is voicing concerns is Kent Misegades, Cary, N.C., an aerospace engineer and aviation journalist. He; along with Dean Billing, Sisters, Ore., an expert on autogas and ethanol; blogs on the General Aviation News web site. In a recent post, Boaters unite to oppose ethanol; where are aviation’s leaders?, Misegades states,
“Unlike marine groups and their media, such as this article in Marlin, that have strongly and publicly advocated for a continued supply of ethanol-free fuel, our aviation alphabet groups have been largely silent, with the notable exception of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA). Since nearly 100% of all new LSA aircraft are powered by engines (Rotax, Jabiru, etc.) that are designed to best operate on 91 octane ethanol-free unleaded gasoline, LAMA has a strong interest in assuring a continued supply of Mogas.”
He goes on to say that “Ironically, the disappearance of Mogas, the affordable, unleaded avgas, as an option for pilots, results in far greater use of leaded fuel than is necessary, contrary to the effort of the EPA to ban its use.”
Judging from the comments posted in response to his article, he is not alone in his opinion of the direction the coalition is taking in this matter. Misegades calls for the leaders of the coalition to “… call on Congress to prohibit the blending of ethanol in premium gasoline …”which he says will preserve an option that will reduce leaded fuel consumption as well as the cost of flying We will follow this issue and see if their voices are heard.