Could the long quest for an affordable replacement for leaded avgas finally be over? Swift Fuels announced its UL94 unleaded fuel is now available at a growing number of airports around the U.S., and its high-octane UL102 unleaded avgas has been selected for the final phase of a government/industry program to identify and certify an unleaded “drop-in” replacement for 100LL. Both developments have huge implications.
UL94 can be used by any aircraft requiring 94 or less octane, which covers almost two-thirds (65%) of the U.S. piston fleet, said Swift Fuels’ CEO Chris D’Acosta, including Cessna 172s and 182s, half-a-dozen Piper models, Mooneys, Maules and American Champions. Lead is a great octane booster, hence its use in avgas, but it’s also toxic to humans—and unhealthy for engines, too, where it fouls internal parts. Among the benefits of 94UL (and other unleaded fuels) are reduced engine maintenance costs. The company’s unleaded fuels’ price is “competitive” with leaded fuel; in Sebring recently, UL94 was $3.95 per gallon, while 100LL was $4.05 per gallon, D’Acosta noted. (Retail vendors, not the fuel producer, set the price at the pumps.)
UL94 is currently available along the Eastern Seaboard, in the Midwest and in limited areas on the West Coast. Swift Fuels is now partnering with fuel distributor AvFuel and expanding its outlets, with a big West Coast push planned for this year.
Meanwhile, the Louisiana-based company’s UL102 (102 octane) is one of two unleaded fuels (the other from Shell) selected for the final phase of the current effort (the Piston Aircraft Fuel Initiative, or PAFI) to find a “drop-in” replacement for 100LL by the end of 2018. (“Drop in” means it can be used without modifying aircraft engines or fuel systems, or fuel storage and delivery equipment.) D’Acosta said Swift Fuels has conducted exhaustive tests that validate UL102’s ability to fulfill these requirements, and that all third-party tests thus far have confirmed its own findings.
GA’s unleaded future may not be entirely here, but if PAFI stays on track, it could be by the end of 2018.
Visit Swift Fuels at swiftfuels.com