The day of finally being able to top off your airplane with FAA-approved 100 octane unleaded fuel is right around the corner. Thursday was the day the FAA approved the GAMI unleaded avgas STC for every piston-powered airframe using a general spark ignition. That’s more than likely your aircraft.
For those that have been watching the progression of gaining FAA approval for an unleaded avgas option, you would have aged by 12 years. The process and refinement of the fuel, along with the required FAA STC approvals, was not quick by any standard of measurement, as GAMI began developing their G100UL fuel way back in 2010.
However, with the STC approved, it will now just be a game of Tetris in getting the product from refinery to fuel pumps that service general aviation. Michigan-based fuel supplier AvFuel will be managing the distribution of the G100UL fuel.
However, some challenges remain. Manufacturing and distribution details still need to be worked out, with GAMI co-founder George Braly quoted as saying, “It’s going to take a while to manage the infrastructure including manufacturing and distribution,” and Braly further stated the supply chain, “…is still a very wounded infrastructure and that’s not going to make the process any easier, but we have a handle on how to do this, and with the support of the major players, I think we can do that.”
Since this fuel will be produced in small batches, it’s likely that it will cost more at the pump than current 100 octane leaded fuel. But one of the beneficial side effects of burning the G100UL unleaded fuel is the likelihood that your aircraft engine will run more efficiently. That could mean more effective combustion reducing the necessity of cleaning spark plugs as frequently as you do today, plus other ancillary benefits. We will have to see the real-world results, but all indications are this is going to make for a happier engine and happier owner (not to mention very happy environmentalists).