I have been investigating getting access to the Swift UL94 fuel. I fly a 235 out of Iowa and currently there are no airports that have it. There are a couple of airports that have it on a route to Michigan I fly in the Summer quite a bit. The 0-540 is approved for the fuel as are many other Pipers. The fuel eliminates the valve sticking issue caused by lead and keeps the plugs and engine cleaner, but it is a chicken or egg situation without pilots pushing for it. The drawbacks are a $100 lifetime STC for all swift fuels which I don't see as a big deal at all. and of course, finding an FBO willing to designate a tank to bring the fuel in in quantities to be competitive with 100LL. I've spoken to Chris at Swift and given the right mix of those two items; he can be competitive with 100LL. Not our world but I've talked to several people who use it in their rotax engines and love it. I am interested if any other members have an interest in trying to push for it at their airports. I'm not interested in the auto fuel STC or waiting for things to happen on the unleaded fuel front on their own. It takes a village and the more airports that have it, the quicker the economies of scale kick in. For my part, I'm going to get the STC and keep talking it up and keep trying to get our local airports to carry it. Thanks
Am starting to voice the following in different communities:
Cannot see any of the UL fuels quickly moving into the infrastructure without an easily accessible real-time platform (such as an interactive map) which shows availability. Without real-time data on UL fuel locations, pilots are left scrounging around by looking in disconnected sources (example: this forum and others).
Am sensing that what the community needs is to push this topic to advocates whom will drive change and get real-time data available for pilots to plan fuel stops at locations that have confirmed UL supply; this in turn will lower demand for LL. Likely path for getting results are a community driven effort, or AOPA, which prods flight planning software vendors to add UL designations when searching for airports. Cannot see this as a major effort on software vendors' part given that it is already possible to discriminate airports based on 100LL and JetA.
Pulling the thought process full circle, we can put a lot of personal effort into market adoption of the UL fuels by way of maintaining a word-of-mouth list, or we can start making it clear to our software vendors that we expect to see this data as part of our paid subscription. Once we start seeing locations with UL fuel, the planes will come, demand will increase, production will increase, and UL will start pushing LL out. Related, is easy to see a scenario where airport operators notice a shift in demand and get out of LL due to the FOMO effect.
And another reason to push this through the software vendors is that the fuels have different weights which plays into W&B. Compounding W&B is when mixing different fuel types in the same tank. Am suspecting that the effect on W&B is not huge, but should an incident occur, even small stuff gets a lot of attention when looking for cause (ie: fault).
I think Swift 94 is DOA, GAMI 100UL is approved in all piston engines to all manifold pressures, even the Turbo Baron dudes can use it. We need to get on GAMI and bug them to make the gas. At my home airport they have put an order in for it already, no ETA, but we want unleaded.
Perhaps. 94's long term life will definitely come down to economics. If it is less expensive at the pump compared to G100UL, chances are good that Swift 94 will remain as there is a ready market for the stuff.
Regarding bugging GAMI, my read is that they are pretty much done at this point as their goal was to make the fuel available and provide a path for owners to use the fuel, but there was no intent to produce. The production piece was left to the fuel companies.
Remain convinced that neither Swift 94 or G100UL are going to spread anytime soon unless pilots are easily able to find them in real-time. And pilots are not going to have the ability to easily find either UL fuel until software vendors update their flight planning applications. Once this happens, demand for UL will start putting pressure for increase production and wider availability.
Another likely factor that the producers are watching is how many planes are (legally) able to purchase G100UL. If only a few owners buy the STC, and these owners are scattered across the map, then there is no real pressure to expand locations which offer G100UL outside of the flight schools whom were part of the initial development process. Only downside to this metric is that it is the chicken and egg scenario: producers are not willing to expand without seeing a market, and pilots are not willing to spend the money on a STC until they are able to purchase the fuel within a reasonable distance from the flight path. Only way to break this log jam is via brute force by banning 100LL, so far only a few local municipalities have gone this path, and just do not see the Feds following any time soon.
As Jacobsja commented earlier, great discussion.
Here's where I see it from a risk reward standpoint based on what's available in the market for unleaded fuels for my plane besides the mogas option.
Swift is currently making a unleaded fuel that meets the need of 60% of the GA fleet. They are also actively working on the 100-octane formulation. Just like with GAMI, you can go on the site and order their 100UL but obviously, like GAMI, it's not being refined yet. I wish both Swift and GAMI the best and hope one or both get to market soon but it does appear that the GAMI option is going to be a much slower road. Hopefully GAMI proves me wrong.
The STC to burn the fuel in my plane is the same money as 16 gallons of 100LL. The Swift STC is a lifetime STC so if they bring 100 to the market, the STC still applies. The STC is pretty low investment in the grand scheme of things to move the entire unleaded fuel movement forward. If I blow $100 on the STC and get limited use out of it, well, it's aviation. You can get $100 sucked out of your wallet pretty easily in this arena.
There are airports in my area that sell it although, granted, not that many. If I go through the next year and manage to fill with unleaded fuel 10% of the time, that's a win for my engine in my book. If just a few airports get it added this year, same comment.
There are some wins that Swift has had with flight schools. I would think those airports with active flight schools could justify moving their fleet over to the UL 94 as a base for sales and build from there. Speaking to one of the FBO's that had the fuel, he said the ability to add just a few airports to the mix make the ability to do milk runs increases ability to get the fuel more regularly and at a better price. We have a large university based flight school in our area and I plan on calling them just to see if buying the fuel for their fleet has crossed their mind.
Currently I start with the swift site that shows airports that have bought the fuel. Then it's a matter of calling the airport to make sure they have it. Not the most efficient way to go about thing but like everything else on this topic, it's a start. I also think it is possible to be sold for less than 100LL and 100Ul for sure based on the discussions that are going on about the starting price when it hits the market. If you check the prices that are out there for UL94 it's all over the board based I'm sure on the size of purchase they made and when it was bought based on the changes in fuel prices this year.
We will see where everything goes but it is nice to know there is an avenue for pilots to act with their purchases to move the unleaded movement forward even if it's just nudging the turtle down the road just a little faster.
Very interesting reads above. Was not aware of the W/B issue. Significant temperature change can do the same, if not but minor. If you own an aircraft, I'm sure you can spring for the $100 STC and support the company that provides for the new fuel. As for Mogas, as planes get sold to those who continue the practice, the definition and requirements of Mogas and its use gets a bit hazy.
In the early '80's or so, 100LL was forced upon the aviation industry when 80/87 and 100/130 was eliminated. Some planes burning 80/87 required a little extra attention using 100LL to avoid plug fouling, and fine wires became popular.
But at least you no longer had to memorize the fuel colors!!!
Hope the jump in GA growth makes the fuel more attractive to the vendors.
Thanks for the education...
No longer need to memorize the fuel colors, eh? Just wait until sumping with a mixture of UL and LL in the tanks. Might as well have a pocket full of Skittles for cross checking the ratios. Bonus is that each tank can display a different portion of the rainbow.
Although... Am sensing a niche market opportunity here. Create a gizmo which converts the color into a ratio, and then use this ratio for weights and balance. I better pattent this idea quickly to claim my multi-million dollar deal in the making!
That’s called a spectrometer…. If you get it FAA certified, you can charge 10x!
Let me know if you need an investor… Lol!
Greg Arserio | PP-ASEL-Instrument | N8390C 1976 Archer II | Rochester, NY (Based at KSDC)
Would someone explain the Weight and Balance situation with the different fuels.. Than you
100LL is around 6 pounds per gallon. G100UL is around 6.3 pounds per gallon. So if an airplane is carrying 100 gallons, 100LL is 600 pounds, and G100UL is 630 pounds.
If you fly a PA28 with standard 50gal capacity, a 15 pound difference is the max possible difference.
Pretty simple math, really.