Piper Cherokee Six

Piper Cherokee Six
These aircraft MUST use 100 Octane Low Lead fuel

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Alaskan Aviation Industry Against EPA ban of 100 Low Lead AvGas

Taking a stand for 100 Low Lead AvGas

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (April 13, 2010)--When Alaskan's see eye-to-eye on anything it is unusual. When Alaskan Aviators gather together to fight for an issue look out. And this is just what has happened.

On April 12 a gathering of 26 people and Alaska Congressman Don Young, R, AK met at the Alaska Aviation Museum located at the world's largest seaplane base to discuss how to curb the efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency's agenda to abolish 100LL AvGas (100 octane Low Lead Aviation gasoline) and the effects it will have on Alaska.

While most of us believe in protecting the earth for future generations, to abolish the use of this fuel will hamper, harm, and destroy a delicate but working aviation related infrastructure in a state three times larger than Texas. 

Now some will say that this is a myopic statement by a bully Alaskan, but it is meant to make a point. There are few roads in Alaska, there are few rural villages on a road system, the State of Alaska has 256 airports that it owns and maintains...starting to get the idea? Now multiply this times three (3X) and what do you get. Commerce and transportation by air, that's what.

EPA workers are not bad people or anything like that, the real problem here is a lawsuit filed by the Friends of the Earth forcing the EPA to look at this issue. The EPA is just following through with a special interest group's legal demand.

Here is the logic according to Wikipedia: The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has noted that exposure to even very low levels of lead contamination has been conclusively linked to loss of IQ in children's brain function tests, thus providing a high degree of motivation to eliminate lead and its compounds from the environment. (What about the countless hours of watching mindless TV shows?)

Well the EPA's conclusion might be so in concentrated amounts, but what we are talking about here in Alaska are 1940-50s ex-military and commercial aircraft that use high octane fuel flying over hundreds of miles of un-populated areas, in cool conditions (density altitude) with highly skilled pilots. 

These pilots work hard to lean their fuel settings to get the best performance, and best efficiency from their aircraft's engines. This means that those 50 and 60 year old engines are working at peak performance in low RPM settings to get the most flight time out of the fuel as they can while they carry everything from diapers to steel pipe into villages that may only have a 3,300 foot gravel runway.

These aircraft are expensive to operate, require constant maintenance, but were designed for what they are doing. 

Some land on beaches to pick up that fresh fish that you ate for lunch at a gourmet restaurant, others are hauling oxygen bottles into villages with regional hospitals to help premature babies who need oxygen to live to the next day. 

In short there are no new aircraft that will use bio-diesels, or Bio Jet fuels that can take these metal flying cargo haulers places. Newer aircraft have large propellers which swing close to the ground...no gravel runways for them. Others have delicate tri-cycle landing gear that can only land on hard surfaces. 

The only newer option that can be considered from an operational standpoint is the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. 

Yes they can land on gravel and yes they can haul a lot of cargo, but they also have four engines and weigh too much for gravel runways built on permafrost that are muddy three months of the year, and covered with snow the other nine.

So where does that leave us should the EPA follow the legal road to lead free air in the Arctic? 

No groceries, fuel, medical emergency evacuations, building supplies, educational materials for local schools, no shipping of generators for production electrical energy...it sort of puts an end to living in rural Alaska, or will make it too damn expensive to live there. 

Perhaps that's the real agenda?

This is just the beginning...we hope to post information that will prove why we stand against the EPA on this issue.


Lars said...

In short, all liquid fuels are being hauled to the landlocked/roadless Alaskan Villages (429, my count) by radial engine airplanes that could not run on any unleaded, alternative fuel.
Alternative fuels are not yet any option anyway and the companies that study them seem to say privately the chances are low to succeed, time-wise, volume-wise and technically: Like the Swift-fuel doesnt seem to work in any colder weather, it only works in Florida! -so the story goes...IN ANY WAY: NO LEAD will kill the Valves, even if there Would BE enough Octane-Rating.
Almost all Commercial Piston engine airplanes in AK need this 100LL technically, not just legally. Turbine and Turboprop -airplanes make up only a small precentage of the fleet and their involvement in hauling bulk is very limited, they dont haul any fuel oil for example. This is being hauled by DC6, C46 and DC4's.-AND THEIR ENGINES NEED LEAD.
Lyc Claims they make Valves, Guides and Seats now that can survive with no lead. Looks like 94-Octane Unleaded could be used on up to 180hp normally aspirated, but not the s- or T-charged or any thing of 8.5:1 compression or higher. All radials would certainly dead too, no hope for their valves etc.,
Nearly no commercial piston engine plane can use less than 100LL, even most PA18's need it because of high compression pistons...at 160hp.
THOSE IN THE "Lower48" just cant imagine that we have no roads here. Our REALITY is beyond their Universe. The issue of the "no oxigen bottles on planes" law shows it clearly. Those hit the hardest, the people in the villages, they dont even know yet whats done by EPA & "Friends of the earth"....

Rob Stapleton, Jr. said...

Good points Lars, next let's get some word from the fuel producers about how the "non-lead" fuels will effect current high compression engines in the future.
We hope to hear from others in this group with their experience on this issue too.

Lars said...

test, some reported problems posting

Lars Gleitsmann said...

we had several folks trying to post and it did not work. Always type your post in an email or so first, to safe the text, then copy and paste into the window. in the pull down menu, best bet is to select anonymus. That should work in Any way.