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NASAO, Among Aviation Associations Urging Congress to Provide Final Installment of PAFI Funding for Unleaded Fuel Research

Aviation Associations are urging Congress to make a continued investment in the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI), a robust program of testing and evaluation to identify suitable unleaded fuel replacements with the least impact on the existing fleet of GA aircraft.

In a letter last week to Congress, the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), along with six other aviation associations supporting general aviation, thanked Congress for their past support of the collaborative government and industry initiative to identify and deploy a safe unleaded replacement for the current 100 octane low lead fuel used in piston engine aircraft. The letter read, “As you begin work on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations legislation, we respectfully request that you provide $7,000,000 in funding for the FAA’s NextGen – Alternative Fuels for General Aviation (GA) program.”

FY18 funding would be the final installment for the PAFI test program and with these funds the FAA would build upon its earlier testing with full scale engine and flight tests, cooperative agreements and independent laboratory testing, and further engineering, technical, and management support. This continuing investment in PAFI effectively balances environmental improvement with aviation safety, technical challenges, and economic impact to the U.S. general aviation transportation system.

To date, the FAA has reviewed seventeen initial candidate fuels and selected four for initial testing. After rigorous laboratory testing in this phase, two fuels were selected for engine and aircraft testing. These fuels continue to be tested and evaluated for operability, performance, detonation, and for warm and cold weather operation in addition to materials compatibility, emissions, and toxicology.

The formal appropriations request for level funding of $7,000,000 will ensure that the PAFI program will be able to provide sound technical data to the FAA. This data will provide a basis for the agency safety determination and ability to provide FAA approvals and authorizations necessary to enable piston aircraft to operate on an unleaded fuel. While the funding amount is larger than the President’s FY18 budget request, it is consistent with the levels provided by Congress in FY17 and would ensure the program can conduct the ongoing research and testing needed to work towards identifying and facilitating a new, unleaded aviation fuel with minimum impact on the fleet of 200,000 piston aircraft in the U.S.

The path to unleaded aviation gasoline began in July of 2010 at AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, when the GA Coalition asked the FAA to take a leadership role to form a Public-Private Partnership. On January 31, 2011 the ARC Charter was signed by the FAA Administrator. After several years of ARC deliberations and then implementation of recommendations, Phase I of the test program began in March of 2015 with Congress authorizing $6 million.

Other aviation groups signing on to the letter were the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Agricultural Aviation Association, and the National Air Transportation Association.

You can view a copy of the letter here: AvGas Association Letter – Fiscal Year 2018 – Senate    AvGas Association Letter – Fiscal Year 2018 House

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