Unleaded gas is finally coming for small airplanes, although it won’t be here for a while yet

  • Located two miles from the downtown, Concord Municipal Airport is a 614-acre general aviationfacility offering aircraft services and fueling for private aircraft and corporate jets through afixed-base operator.

Monitor staff
Published: 11/20/2022 10:53:08 AM

A quarter-century after lead in gasoline was banned for cars, unleaded fuel is finally becoming available for small airplanes, although it will be a while before production makes it to Concord Municipal Airport.

“We plan to provide this fuel as it becomes available for us to purchase through our fuel source, Titan Aviation Fuels. The information available to us right now is that in the Northeast U.S., mass production and distribution of unleaded aviation gasoline is still 2-3 years out,” airport manager David Rollo wrote in an email.

Tetraethyl lead was added to gasoline in the 1920s to prevent engine knock, which can reduce performance and cause engine damage. Over the decades the toxic chemical accumulated in the environment and became a public health problem. Its use in cars was banned in 1996 but lead stayed in aviation gasoline for small planes because there was no “operationally safe, suitable replacement,” per the Federal Aviation Administration. Commercial jets use what is basically kerosene as fuel.

The FAA recently approved a fuel developed by General Aviation Modifications for use across the general aviation fleet without any major modifications needed in plans. Rollout of the fuel, called G100UL, will be cautious. The FAA said in a statement it will require GAMI to “work with aircraft owners to track and report any unforeseen mechanical issues that might arise from introducing its fuel into existing fuel systems.”

At least one other company, Swift Fuels, is also developing unleaded aviation fuels.

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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