The President’s 2014 budget includes $5.6 million in
research and development funding for the William J.
Hughes Technical Center to conduct the fuels evaluation
testing. Candidate fuel testing will be funded by the
government and in-kind industry contributions, in a
multi-year program. To date FAA has tested over 279 fuel
formulations in an attempt to find a “drop-in” solution,
which would require no aircraft or engine modifications.
The request responds to the July 2012 Unleaded Avgas
Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee report to the
FAA, which noted that a "drop-in" unleaded replacement
fuel is unavailable and may not be technically feasible.
That is why an industry-government initiative called the
Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI) will facilitate
the development and deployment of a new unleaded avgas
with the least impact on the existing piston-engine
PAFI is key to the selection and implementation
of an unleaded fuel across the existing general aviation
FAA and industry-group leaders also recently formed the
PAFI Steering Group (PSG), to facilitate, coordinate,
expedite, promote and oversee the PAFI.
There are approximately 167,000 aircraft in the
United States and a total of 230,000 worldwide that
rely on 100 low lead avgas for safe operation. It is
the only remaining transportation fuel in the United
States that contains the addition of tetraethyl lead
(TEL), a toxic substance, to create the very high
octane levels needed for high-performance aircraft
engines. Operations with inadequate octane can
result in engine failures.