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Autogas has a future in aviaiton

July 13, 2012, 02:11 pm

The Aviation Fuel Club recently released results of a study showing that between 80 and 83 percent of current piston engine aircraft could use autogas for fuel.

Autogas is free of ethanol and lead, and was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration in 1982. It is currently $1.40 cheaper than leaded gas at airports.

"We determined then that approximately 115,000 aircraft were capable of burning autogas using STCs from the EAA and my company, Petersen Aviation," said Todd Peterson, a founding director of the Aviation Fuel Club. "This represented about 78 percent of all piston aircraft in 1992, and we did not include homebuilts, ultralights or piston rotorcraft, most of which may operate on autogas. Much has changed since 1992, with many owners of heavy twin aircraft that needed avgas having switched to turbine aircraft, and with continued growth in the homebuilt and more recently the LSA sectors."

Peterson added that the Aviation Fuel Club determined it was time to see the potential use for autogas and how it could lower costs of flying and lead emissions from aircraft.

The study showed that 127,168 fixed-wing and rotary piston aircraft are capable of taking autogas. According to the Experimental Aircraft Association, there are nearly 33,000 registered experimental-amateur built aircraft and 500 are added each year. The association estimates that 100 percent of these homebuilts could operate using autogas. There are 2,235 registered light sport aircraft and approximately 1,600 of these have engines that can operate on autogas.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, recently stated that diesel engine exhaust is carcinogenic to humans. In response to the announcement, the World LP Gas Association released statements about the benefits of autogas as a clean, safe and versatile fuel substitute for diesel.

"Autogas is by far the most widely used and accepted alternative automotive fuel in use in the world today and global consumption has been rising rapidly in recent years," said the WLPGA press release. "Autogas out-performs gasoline and diesel as well as some other alternative fuels in the majority of studies comparing environmental performance. Autogas emissions are especially low with respect to noxious pollutants."

If autogas were to be offered throughout the general aviation community, lower costs could encourage more to take to the skies. Pilot insurance is a beneficial option pilots already in the community and for those soon to be there.

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