The Future of AVGAS 100LL and 100UL, developments in the EU and the USA
On April 8, 2022 the European Commission issued Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008, which addresses among other things the substance tetraethyl lead, which is contained in Avgas 100LL. There is great fear among many that this regulation will ban Avgas 100LL in the short term.
First of all, we would like to make it clear that AOPA is critical of the continued use of Avgas 100LL. There is no question that the additive tetraethyl lead (TEL) is toxic. It is not for nothing that it was banned as an additive in automotive fuels over 40 years ago.
Our task now is to manage the transition from leaded avgas to its unleaded successor in such a way that there is as trouble-free a transition as possible as soon as possible.
Approximately 30% of the aircraft in the fleet still require Avgas 100LL, and they would be hard hit by a ban on the fuel.
Another critical factor is that TEL is now produced by only one manufacturer for the global market. If it were to fail, for whatever reason, then suddenly the supply of Avgas 100LL would no longer be guaranteed.
In summary: For health reasons and also for economic reasons, Avgas 100LL must indeed disappear.
First question: Will TEL be banned as a substance in Europe?
Let's take a closer look at the regulatory situation. In the quoted regulation it says under (1): The substance tetraethyl lead meets the criteria (...) for classification as toxic for reproduction (category 1A) and therefore meets the criteria for inclusion in Annex XIV of Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 in accordance with Article 57(c) of the Regulation. The annex to this regulation then goes on to set out two transitional arrangements with their cut-off dates: Application deadline November 1, 2023, and expiration date May 1, 2025. In fact, this regulation may mean the end of the import of (undiluted) TEL and its blending in aviation fuels by May 1, 2025. But that will only happen if the fuel industry does not exercise the option offered and does not submit a qualified application to continue using and distributing TEL in a safeguarded environment by November 1, 2023.
However, we understand that discussions are already underway between the petroleum industry and regulators to submit an application for continued use of TEL by the application deadline of November 1, 2023.
If these applications are rejected, then the production of Avgas 100LL within the EU is no longer guaranteed.
Second question: can Avgas 100LL continue to be imported into the EU? There is a critical concentration for TEL in the EU regulations, and it is 0.1% by weight. If the TEL admixture is below this limit, then the substance may continue to be imported, above it it cannot.
According to the specifications for Avgas 100LL, the TEL content is a maximum of 0.125%. Thus, the TEL content can easily be reduced below the critical value in the EU regulations of 0.1% (which is apparently already being done in practice, because TEL as an additive is expensive), so that imports of Avgas 100LL from other EU countries will continue to be possible. EASA has also confirmed this to us in writing in a background paper.
Third question: When will unleaded avgas finally arrive? On the occasion of the AERO in Friedrichshafen, we had the opportunity to talk in detail with Tim Roehl, the head of the U.S. company GAMI, the developer of the only lead-free 100 octane avgas approved in the United States. GAMI is optimistic that it will very soon receive approval from the FAA for its Avgas 100 UL (=unleaded) for the entire aircraft fleet, which is currently approved for Avgas 100LL. After completion of a series of tests, the corresponding confirmation from the FAA approval body has apparently already been received, but this is still to be verified by FAA headquarters. However, the actual target date for approval still in May 2022 has passed without result. GAMI is also currently in talks to bring the unleaded G100UL to Europe. Other manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe are apparently also continuing to develop an Avgas 100UL, but we are not hearing any details about the current situation at this time.
Fourth question: What is happening in the USA? In the U.S., general aviation associations have submitted a proposal to the authorities to stop using Avgas 100LL by 2030.
In the USA, too, the authorities are taking action against TEL, and at some airports in California there are currently attempts to ban the sale of 100LL avgas completely. In the USA, it is considered realistic to permit the use of 100 octane unleaded avgas by 2030 and to offer it on the market in sufficient quantities at reasonable prices.
Are there still many unanswered questions? Yes, of course. But there are many good reasons to be cautiously optimistic that the transition to a 100UL unleaded avgas will take place before bottlenecks occur.
World record landings in one hour in Guiness Book of Records
Perform 57 perfect landings in one hour? Pilot Dirk Evers (see photo) performed it. At Oostwold airfield, a small green field in the north of the Netherlands, he performed 57 landings with his Pitts Special in one hour. With that, he made it to the Guinness Book of World Records. Yet the pilot thinks there could have been more.
The current record "Most times to take off and land" was held by the American Steven Chase since 2020. He made fifteen take offs and landings in one hour in Broomfield, Colorado (USA). Summer 2021 Dirk Evers got the idea to attack that record. Evers is a former helicopter pilot with the Dutch Air Force and a former captain with Transavia on the Boeing 737. He currently runs his own flight school at Lelystad. The aircraft with which Dirk Evers broke the record is a 'Pitts S.2B Special'. The airport EHOW. Evers: "It took some hard work, but it went fine. My legs feel like mush and I have sore muscles up to my ears but it was fantastic to do,' the new record holder explained afterwards.
I went to the website of the Guinness Book of World Records and I just looked to see if there was a record there for me to attack. I arrived at the American's record and initially thought it would be easy to break. However, there were quite a few rules and conditions that you had to meet.
For those who want to try to break the record of Dirk Evers, there are quite a few conditions, the strict rules and conditions of Guinness World Records are:
- The record attempt must take place at the same airport that is officially listed on a flight chart.
- The landings must all be made in the same direction.
- After each landing, the aircraft must climb back up to 1,000 ft (over 300 m) circuit altitude to make the next landing from there.
- For each so-called 'target landing', all three wheels must come down within the same twenty-foot box, marked by two lines on the runway.
- Officially appointed witnesses, including a notary public, must be present to verify that the record attempt is conducted exactly according to the rules.
- Timekeepers must keep a close eye on the time.
- Immediately after the event, a witness report must be submitted with a photo report and a film report as final proof of authenticity of the attempt. On-board cameras should e.g. permanently display the altimeter.
Sonaca stops production of the Sonaca 200
Belgian aircraft manufacturer Sonaca Aircraft is discontinuing production of the Sonaca 200. Due to the ongoing corona malaise in aviation, there are not enough orders coming in. The Sonaca 200 is essentially a South African Sling. It is still offered today, also as a four-seater, but then as a self-built kit. The Sonaca 200 from Belgium is an EASA certified two-seater.
Sonaca Aircraft, founded in 2015, developed the small aircraft with one engine and two seats itself. With the Sonaca 200, the company aimed at pleasure flights, particularly for flight schools. 'If you want to become a professional pilot, this kind of aircraft is the first one you fly, and then move up to more sophisticated ones,' said Pierre Van Wetter (see photo), one of the founders and commercial manager of Sonaca Aircraft. However, the long aftermath of corona is now drawing a line under the plans. The board of directors of multinational Sonaca has decided to turn off the money tap for a series of loss-making activities, including the Sonaca 200. 'The pandemic, which will affect the entire aviation sector until 2025, had a considerable impact on aviation in general and pilot training in particular.' Result: the number of orders is well below the profitability threshold for Sonaca. The project had already absorbed more than 10 million euros by the end of last year. The 30 or so people working on the construction of the single-engine aircraft can continue to work in the Sonaca group.
A total of 57 examples of the Sonaca 200 have been built and delivered.
German hydrogen aircraft breaks altitude record
Stuttgart-based H2FLY has set an altitude record with its hydrogen demonstration aircraft HY4. For the world record for hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft, the aircraft reached an altitude of over 2,200 meters.
In addition, the aircraft completed a journey of 124 kilometers from Stuttgart to Friedrichshafen.
It is the first time that a hydrogen-electric passenger plane between two major commercial airports has been trialled. The aircraft flew the mission to Friedrichshafen to participate in the AERO Friedrichshafen aviation exhibition in April this year.
Have a nice summer and happy vacations
We wish everyone a beautiful summer and happy vacations. Hopefully it will not be too hot in the places where we will spend our vacations. Lots of flying, safe landings and starting in September we hope to greet everyone live again.
Please keep us informed about the aviation news in your country
If you have any news or things that you would like to share with pilots in other countries - for instance if you organize a Fly-in that might be of interest or if there is news about airports or new rules and regulations in your country that other pilots should know.
Please don't hesitate to send all your news to me:
Gerrit Brand | Netherlands | email: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone or whatsapp + 31 6 50831893