News from the Avgas front | When will unleaded Avgas 100UL finally arrive?
For decades, almost nothing has happened in the field of avgas, but now the news is coming thick and fast. A brief summary in advance: The news is not bad at all. There are basically two strands of development: the more dynamic one in the USA, and the one in Europe. (by Dr Michael Erb)
What's new in the USA:
In September of this year, GAMI's Avgas 100 UL received the long-awaited STC from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for all aircraft engines previously certified for Avgas 100 LL. This was the long-awaited breakthrough on the way to a worldwide supply of an unleaded Avgas for all piston engines, but we have not entirely reached our goal yet.
As far as we know, at least two other fuel producers in the U.S. are close to getting approval for their 100-octane unleaded aviation fuel; we are probably talking about a few months. Creating a competitive situation among fuel suppliers would be enormously important to prevent a monopoly situation and keep the price of the new fuel low. Incidentally, AOPA-USA colleagues co-chair the FAA's important EAGLE (Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions) program, in which the new fuels are being tested.
Also, according to press reports, talks are already underway between GAMI and potential distribution partners for the Avgas 100 UL. CEO Craig Sincock of independent fuel provider group AvFuel Corp, which operates more than 3,000 airfield fueling stations worldwide, said a few days ago that his company wants to help GAMI set up logistics and distribution. The stated goal of authorities and associations in the U.S. is to make the switch to an unleaded standard by 2030.
Additional pressure has been built up in the USA by the so-called "Endangerment Finding" of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That's because the EPA announced on Oct. 7 that it was taking action because of lead emissions from reciprocating engines and the resulting harm to public health. A 2023 public comment period was set in motion, at which time a final decision would be made. If the endangerment is confirmed, EPA would issue restrictive regulations on lead that will most likely result in a ban on Avgas 100LL. Although airborne lead levels in the U.S. have declined 99% since 1980, piston aircraft powered by leaded avgas are the largest remaining source of lead emissions to the air, EPA says.
What's new in Europe:
In Europe, discussions are currently underway between the petroleum industry, regulators and AOPA. The issues here are the approval of fuel from the U.S. and the chemical evaluation of lead-free additives under European law, and above all the establishment of a logistics and distribution structure. It is also important that, following the decisions in the so-called REACH project, the petroleum industry successfully applies for a so-called authorization in order to be allowed to continue producing Avgas 100 LL in Europe for a transitional period after the May 2025 deadline.
Although the developments are fundamentally positive, there will probably still be no secure supply of one or more lead-free avgas alternatives by 2025. Industry experts assume a timeframe of perhaps 7 years. This is also in line with plans in the USA, where the target end date for the switchover is 2030.
We will keep you informed of progress on an ongoing basis.
New Simpler IFR Rules for GA
On October 30'th 2022 new IFR rules for non-commercial operations (NCO) will come into effect. IAOPA Europe has been heavily involved in the rulemaking that is better suited for GA and to a large extend simplifies IFR operations.
It is strongly suggested that affected IFR pilots study the rules themselves since all aspects cannot be listed here. They can be found in EASA's Easy Access document. You can search in the document for the text "30 october" to find the new texts. The Easy Access document is not yet updated to include the associated AMC & GM, which you can find here.
Among some of the highlights are:
Introduction of the concept of a final reserve fuel (known from commercial rules) and clarification that if the pilot foresees that landing will be with less than this quantity a FUEL MAYDAY must be callled.
The specific amounts of fuel required (30 minutes for VFR / 45 minutes for IFR) is now moved from rule level to AMC material, meaning that the pilot or operator has a possibility to deviate if it is found suitable for the specific operation.
Introduction of the new ICAO definitions of Type A (minima >=250ft) and Type B approaches (minima below 250ft).
The "approach ban" rule has been simplified so it is now always allowed to proceed below FAF/1000ft and down to minima provided the RVR is at least 550m.
Rules for meterologícal planning requirements at an alternate airport are now more strict and weather must be better than the operational minima: For a type B approach +200ft/min 1500m and for a type A approach +400ft/min 3.000m.
The AMC now clearly establishes responsibilities in connection with IFR departures and arrivals at aerodromes where no instrument approaches are published and also acknowledges that such operattions are permitted.
It is clarified that for a Constant Descend Final Approach (CDFA) obstacle clearance height or system minima may be used as a decision height, so that it is allowed to briefly descend below this altiude in the same way as for a precision approach
It is now allowed under certain conditions to plan with a GNSS approach at both destination and destination alternate
Waypoint substitution using GNSS instead of conventional navaids is now allowed under certain conditions
Requirement for an altimeter check before takeoff
The dawn of a new era with Ultralights/Microlights (MLAs)
AOPA Luxembourg organized a study tour of Europe in August 2022, introducing members to the top segment of so-called Ultralights or MLAs. This segment of General Aviation today consists of full-size, fully streamlined composite aircraft. President AOPA Luxembourg Peter Sodermans wrote the piece below.
Thanks to relaxed approval requirements for ULs, they are often better equipped than GA aircraft with modern avionics, lights or even retractable landing gear. All this takes its toll in terms of weight. The maximum mass (MTOM) for ultralight aircraft used to be 450 kg plus 22.5 kg for the entire parachute rescue system.
In July 2018, it was decided at the European level that national member states will be given the option of defining a whole bunch of ULM regulations themselves, taking into account the specific approach of individual countries.
Under this so-called ‘opt-out’ arrangement, the Czech Republic and Germany were the first countries to request this ‘opt-out’ from EASA. This created a whole new category for ultralight aircraft in the 600 kg MTOM class. Meanwhile, a rapidly growing group of European countries are following this clever ‘game-changer’ example. However, there are substantial differences between the various legislative initiatives in the countries.
So in most countries we are moving towards UL's 600kg MTOM (625 kg with parachute). But there are still some important differences. On the one hand, the French have endorsed the ‘opt-out,’ but only with a 500kg MTOM (or 525 kg with parachute). On the other hand, medical examinations no longer apply to French licenses. The Germans were the first to endorse the 600kg story, but an autopilot is not allowed there, which is incomprehensible.
That raises a lot of legal complications for cross-border flying. Can you land a German-registered 600kg UL in France, for example, is still the simplest question.
Also, many airports have restrictions that make it difficult to fly a UL. In Belgium's Namur-Temploux, UL are systematically refused. AOPA inquiry revealed that an (old) municipal regulation still applies here.
AOPA Luxembourg organized a study tour during which they visited the production lines of a number of innovative European aircraft manufacturers and exchanged views with users. A mixed delegation of ‘classic’ private pilots and ‘UL’ pilots went out to visit VL3, Shark and Blackwing.
For many ‘classic’ private pilots, the world of UL is new territory.The VL3, the Shark and the Blackwing made our old pilot hearts beat noticeably faster. We see that the world of classic GA in which we grew up as private pilots and the world of ULs are coming closer together because of these high-performance aircraft. These high-performance ULs score extremely well and just fly pleasantly. It does come with a hefty price tag that moves between 200,000 and 350,000 euros plus VAT for a full option. But for that you get value for money. Clearly, a new chapter in General Aviation is being written here with these high-performance ULs that make overland flying fun, safe and affordable.
General Aviation Day for EASA by GAMA and IAOPA Europe; European authority representatives came to Egelsbach
On October 18, more than 20 EASA staff members working on the General Aviation Roadmap met at Egelsbach Airfield at the invitation of GAMA (General Aviation Manufacturers Association) and IAOPA-Europe. The aim of the event was to present our versatile and innovative industry at an active airfield and to give the representatives of the Cologne authorities new insights. Very important was the cooperation with industry partners, who were able to present their innovative products on the one hand, but also their concerns and proposed solutions on the other hand. Representatives of friendly associations active in the EASA advisory body GA.COM, such as EBAA and Europe Air Sports, were also actively represented. In total, more than 60 people attended the event.
Diamond Aircraft kicked things off in the morning in their hangar with the topics on maintenance and airworthiness certification, after which further knowledge could be gained in small groups spread over several stations: Topics were the complexity of airspaces and their procedures, explained by the airfield operator TRIWO using the example of the Egelsbach airfield. The Motorflugschule Egelsbach explained existing challenges for flight schools in their areas. Redbird gave a presentation on the hitherto hardly used application possibilities of simulators in general aviation. Another station in the hangar of Panoramaflug showed modern technologies. From the electric aircraft Pipistrel Velis Electro of Panoramaflug, to modern avionics from Garmin and the powerful apps from ForeFlight.
A wide range of aircraft could be viewed on the apron: Diamond's DA42 and DA50, Elixir Aircraft's Elixir, and Cirrus' VisionJet SF50. A highlight of the event were certainly the demo flights of Diamond and Elixir in the afternoon.
Much has already been achieved with EASA, such as the simplified IFR training via the CB-IR and the Basic IR, the new entry-level LAPL flying license, the Part ML for maintenance, the commercial use of single-engine turbine aircraft, the simplified Part 21 Light design and production regulations, to name the most important milestones. It was important for us to learn that EASA wants to keep the ball rolling and is serious about supporting General Aviation in its further development and continuing the GA Roadmap.
Electra completes test of hybrid eSTOL aircraft engine
US manufacturer Electra has successfully completed a fully integrated test of its patented hybrid-electric propulsion system for its aircraft. Testing of the hybrid-electric system took place at Electra's propulsion development facility in Switzerland.
Electra's hybrid system uses a combination of powerful batteries and a turbogenerator to drive eight electric motors and propellers.
Electra's aircraft is an eSTOL, a hybrid-electric aircraft with ultra-short takeoff and landing performance. The hybrid system will be integrated into Electra's technology demonstrator.
The technology is initially developed for Electra's nine-seat eSTOL aircraft. It will be scaled up to larger aircraft at a later stage. Electra's aircraft is intended for regional mobility. The aircraft is being designed so that hydrogen and battery-electric propulsion systems can be used in the future.
AOPA Luxemburg implements a carbon reduction strategy
Climate change is a reality that threatens the health of the planet as well as our way of life. However, opportunities to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions and therefore the ecological footprint of our activity already exist. As a non-profit organisation, AOPA Luxembourg, which represents aircraft owners and pilots in Luxembourg, has decided to actively shape the future and promote sustainable development by implementing a carbon reduction strategy. The President of AOPA Luxembourg, Peter Sodermans, explains: “This new initiative will not only neutralize the carbon impact of its motor powered flight activities with light aircraft, but also actively participates in education, the protection of forests and biodiversity.
AOPA Luxembourg has set up a collaboration with Graine de vie consisting of calculating the carbon effect of flights in powered aircraft organized by AOPA Luxembourg. By individual flight, we now integrate the environmental impact in terms of CO2. The partnership will make it possible to contribute financially, on a voluntary basis, to reforestation campaigns in the eastern region of Madagascar. Graine de vie supplied more than 80,000 seeds for the reforestation of 40 hectares in Mahanoro Vatomandry. This operation will consist of neutralising the carbon effects of flights carried out under AOPA Luxembourg.
Shahriar Agaajani, Member of the AOPA Luxembourg board, developed the initiative to quantify the environmental impact due to general aviation, to record all the emissions caused accurately and to neutralise the carbon impact of AOPA members.
AOPA Luxembourg and Graine de vie are pleased to obtain support for this new initiative from Mr. Francois Bausch, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Mobility and Public Works of the Government of Luxembourg. Minister Bausch explains: “I welcome the awareness and initiative adopted by AOPA concerning the assessment and voluntary offsetting of CO2 emissions from general aviation. Among private flights, it is still rare to take carbon effects into account. In this sense, I fully support the green and proactive spirit of AOPA.”
In an informative video posted on Youtube, AOPA Luxembourg presents the CO2 reduction strategy it has developed
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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: email@example.com, telephone or whatsapp + 31 6 50831893