There have been a lot of discussions recently about the banning of 100LL – primarily brought forth by Santa Clara County (CA) banning the sale of leaded aviation fuel at Reid-Hillview Airport and San Martin Airport in early January.
While the drastic step of banning 100LL outright may be new, the discussion around finding an alternative that doesn’t include lead is not. The Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative (PAFI) was established over a decade ago with the sole purpose to find an alternative for leaded fuel. The group’s membership included the FAA and EPA, Lycoming, Cessna, GAMA, AOPA, NATA, Exxon, Swift, GAMI and others.
So why hasn’t there been an alternative fuel created yet? The main reason is that 100LL is a boutique fuel – general aviation’s yearly demand for avgas is equivalent to less than a half-day of automotive volume. In 2020, Americans used about 123 billion gallons of motor gasoline, compared to 166 million gallons of avgas. This low demand, coupled with various production, distribution and environmental factors, has tamped down past efforts to create a “drop-in” replacement.
The EPIC Risk Management department’s focus is to ensure our customers receive clean and dry fuel that will allow their customers to be safe every time they fly. Our team will continue to evaluate the developments, risks and opportunities associated with alternative fuels and provide our customers with the support required to safely and efficiently operate their businesses in this constantly evolving industry with recent progress on alternatives to 100LL.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to your Risk Management Specialist.