Performance fuel products manufacturer VP Racing Fuels Inc. and LyondellBasell, a global producer and supplier of chemicals, polymers and fuel components, have reached a significant milestone in the collaborative development of unleaded aviation fuel.
VP Racing and LyondellBasell joined forces in 2018 to develop an unleaded aviation gasoline (avgas) in response to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) invitation for new fuel offerors to enter the Piston Engine Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI) program, according to a press release.
The latest version of the fuel recently passed a critical 150-hour durability test in a turbocharged Continental piston engine. It was the first unleaded fuel to pass the test and qualify for full-scale testing in the FAA’s rigorous PAFI program, the release stated.
“VP Racing is excited to announce this revolutionary achievement,” said Alan Cerwick, president & CEO of VP Racing. “Working with chemical industry leader LyondellBasell, our research & development team has accomplished a once-elusive deliverable for the FAA. We look forward to working tenaciously toward the next milestone phases in this development.”
Over the next couple of years, VP Racing Fuels and LyondellBasell expect to secure FAA fleetwide authorization for the use of the new unleaded fuel in general aviation piston aircraft, followed by a gradual rollout and eventual replacement of 100LL (100 low-lead) in the following years, the release noted.
Cerwick stated that passing Stage Gate III of the FAA’s PAFI test plan moves the fuel into full-scale testing in a number of engines and aircraft that represent a broad spectrum of general aviation (GA) technologies and materials.
The teams will also work with original equipment manufacturers, pilots, distributors and regulatory bodies to seek authorization for the unleaded fuel for GA use as a replacement for 100LL.
“LyondellBasell appreciates our close collaboration with VP Racing Fuels, the FAA and general aviation stakeholders during the fuel development and testing process,” said Kim Foley, executive vice president, intermediates & derivatives, refining, and supply chain for LyondellBasell. “We look forward to our continued collaboration to complete the testing program required for fleetwide approval by the FAA.”