California FBOs Told To Stop Selling 100LL, Switch To G100UL

FPK1

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FPK1
I looked the case up. It appears that the defendant fuel distributors and airports settled with the company - I mean activist organization- that sued them. If I understand correctly how civil cases work, since it’s a settlement on a civil suit and not a binding decision of an appellate court concerning statutory regulatory or criminal law, then it’s only binding on those specific entities. So any other fuel dealer or airport can continue to sell 100LL and not be bound by the agreement. There also must be a way to restructure a corporation so it is not longer legally the same entity that signed the agreement.
 
It'll be interesting to watch this shake out. I'd assume that the agreement was probably worded to require a drop-in replacement, not an STC'd one. Also possible the defendants won't want to spend the money to litigate it when it seems inevitable anyway. In any case, we'll find out this summer exactly how expensive G100UL is going to be. If this stands in California, I'd expect all the other lefty states (like mine) to clamber to follow suit.

Like Wayne, I think getting the lead out will be great for the engines. I'd gladly pay $1 more for g100ul and expect my long term maintenance savings to make up the difference. I'm not convinced it will be that cheap though.
 
It'll be interesting to watch this shake out. I'd assume that the agreement was probably worded to require a drop-in replacement, not an STC'd one. Also possible the defendants won't want to spend the money to litigate it when it seems inevitable anyway. In any case, we'll find out this summer exactly how expensive G100UL is going to be. If this stands in California, I'd expect all the other lefty states (like mine) to clamber to follow suit.

Like Wayne, I think getting the lead out will be great for the engines. I'd gladly pay $1 more for g100ul and expect my long term maintenance savings to make up the difference. I'm not convinced it will be that cheap though.
I think Colorado is the next lefty domino to fall before ill-and-annoy.

If I was in California I'd have no problem buying the STC. But what happens when a transient is unaware 100ll is unavailable. Do you put it in without the sticker and risk falling out of the sky?

If the state wants to mandate the use of a fuel that I've got to pay several hundred dollars just to buy the fuel, then maybe they should buy every CA registered aircraft the STC.
 
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It'll be interesting to watch this shake out. I'd assume that the agreement was probably worded to require a drop-in replacement, not an STC'd one. Also possible the defendants won't want to spend the money to litigate it when it seems inevitable anyway. In any case, we'll find out this summer exactly how expensive G100UL is going to be. If this stands in California, I'd expect all the other lefty states (like mine) to clamber to follow suit.

Like Wayne, I think getting the lead out will be great for the engines. I'd gladly pay $1 more for g100ul and expect my long term maintenance savings to make up the difference. I'm not convinced it will be that cheap though.
Other than plugs….where’s your savings? We’ve been running engines on unleaded fuel for years…they didn't run much longer. Recall the Peterson STC’s of the 80’s?

careful to gulp the koolaid folks.
 
I think Colorado is the next lefty domino to fall before ill-and-annoy.

If I was in California I'd have no problem buying the STC. But what happens when a transient is unaware 100ll is unavailable. Do you put it in without the sticker and risk falling out of the sky?

If the state wants to mandate the use of a fuel that I've got to pay several hundred dollars just to buy the fuel, then maybe they should buy every CA registered aircraft the STC.
Can we buy you some cheese to go with your whine?
 
Like Wayne, I think getting the lead out will be great for the engines. I'd gladly pay $1 more for g100ul and expect my long term maintenance savings to make up the difference.
If aircraft engines last longer without lead, then why is it in there?
 
Other than plugs….where’s your savings? We’ve been running engines on unleaded fuel for years…they didn't run much longer. Recall the Peterson STC’s of the 80’s?

careful to gulp the koolaid folks.
Yes, it was unleaded, but it was still auto fuel.
 
Seems like this is an issue that is governed by the FAA and hence the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution should preempt this action.
Plus, since aviation often involves interstate flights by commercial,operators and business concerns, and leaded fuel is likely blended out of state - the TEL definitely is not native to California - the Interstate Commerce Clause may come into play and give the federal government exclusive jurisdiction.
 
Gonna be some good business opportunities for neighboring states with close-by airports that can still provide 100LL.
 
Looks like a STC is in my future...


Or, a move out of California
 
Other than plugs….where’s your savings? We’ve been running engines on unleaded fuel for years…they didn't run much longer. Recall the Peterson STC’s of the 80’s?

careful to gulp the koolaid folks.
Okay, here's what I'm looking at... plugs don't even factor into it. I rarely even have to clean a plug because I run my engine pretty lean.

I change my oil at 50 hrs, and sample it. What I notice is that the oil is still in great shape, but it's absolutely loaded with lead. With unleaded fuel, even conventional oil should easily make 100hr intervals, and I expect to see synthetics enter the market that can go 200 while significantly reducing engine wear. Oil changes are $400 at my shop. I usually do it myself, but frankly that probably costs me more if I place a value on my time. So 400/50 is $8/hr. Divide that by 15gal/hr, and that alone is worth 53 cents/ gallon.

What kills engine's? It's never wear. It's valve problems, blowby, or cam/ lifter failures. Most valve problems are a direct result of lead. Lead deposits on the seats creat hotspots that burn valves. Lead deposits on the stems cause sticking valves and can damage valve guides ruining the heads. Blowby is caused by lead deposits under the rings. Cams... well that's usually a lack of flying. Synthetics may do a better job of protecting against corrosion, but I'm not going to hang my hat on that.

Synthetic oils will also extend the life of all the oil wetted parts. The bottom ends of these engines are already capable of going 4000 hours. If we can keep the cams and pistons better lubricated with modern synthetic oils, I think pushing overhauls out to 3-4000 hours will be commonplace for planes that fly frequently. Doubling tbo on a $50k engine that burns 15gal/hr works out to $1.67/gal. Now, doubling might be a stretch, but even half of that number is significant.

There's other possibilities too. I think closed loop EFI will become common in the experimental world. Even my old certified bird could use a wide-band O2 sensor to give me real time feedback on the air:fuel ratio.

Just sticking my borescope in my engine is enough to make me want to get the lead out, and my engine runs pretty clean as evidenced by my plugs.

Taking off the rose colored glasses for a minute, I do want to know what happened at UND. I'm not convinced they did a careful enough study to place the blame on the fuel, but it certainly gives me pause. I'm very interested to see what lycoming has to say about it, but it's been 3 months now of radio silence. I tend to believe that if valve recession were going to be a problem, GAMI would've found it. Maybe it's something specific to the lower octane fuel? Maybe it's the lack of lead fouling cushioning the valve seats. It's a big unanswered question to be plowing ahead with all this.
 
Plus, since aviation often involves interstate flights by commercial,operators and business concerns, and leaded fuel is likely blended out of state - the TEL definitely is not native to California - the Interstate Commerce Clause may come into play and give the federal government exclusive jurisdiction.

That didn’t seem to impact the PRK’s ability to enforce its own auto emission standards.
 
If aircraft engines last longer without lead, then why is it in there?

The engines don’t need lead, they need octane. Lead is a means of raising octane. The challenge has been finding a fuel blend that achieves the necessary octane without lead while also working over a wide range of temperatures and altitudes.
 
I think California piston engine maintenance data could confirm or refute any issues with use of this new fuel because of the large upcoming sample size. I’m in the midwest so I think there would be plenty of data by the time it might be mandated here.

Late-adopter States and FBOs will allow time for the less enthusiastic skeptical owners like me to STFU, lol!
 
Can we buy you some cheese to go with your whine?
Not whining. Colorado has had a few airports under threat with the public crying foul and complaining about lead. Despite their own studies that show no noticeable lead issues. When we heard from GAMI as far as distribution. California was first. This was what was speculated from a Gami employee. Midwest was last and probably several years out. If this was not an STC fuel I'd have no problem with California mandating it's use.

"Who's next" is really a logistical problem with multiple variables. For example, once we have rail cars loaded with fuel going to SoCal, stopping in Arizona or extending to Oregon is easier than supplying New York next. However, if all the New England states suddenly ban 100LL, we'll probably start heading there next. It also makes sense to look at airport density and local gallons used. It would make more sense to hit a transfer station centrally located to 5-6 busy airports, than to target a lone airport surrounded by corn fields for 100 miles in any direction. However, if that lone airport was home to a large flight school that used 2 million gallons a year, that might make more sense.

I don't have any "insider knowledge" on this, but I suspect the fuel will travel from Southern Texas to up and down the west coast, then from Texas to Florida and up the east coast, then up through the Midwest. That's all speculation, though. Those details are still being worked out.
 
Seems like a government mandated monopoly.
Anyone think the Swift might sue for CA picking the winner in the 100UL competition? How about the 100LL manufacturers. Think they will sue for CA outlawing their products?

What if GAMI can't get enough product manufactured? Will the GA fleet be grounded.

I am all for 100UL. And I am sure, given the choice, 100UL would win in the marketplace. One good thing. California will be a nice test bed of widespread G100UL across a wide cross section of the G fleet.

Bad news. I live in a lefty domino too.
 
The engines don’t need lead, they need octane. Lead is a means of raising octane. The challenge has been finding a fuel blend that achieves the necessary octane without lead while also working over a wide range of temperatures and altitudes.

I would add - working over a wide range of engines (compressions, cam profiles, bores/stokes) and ham fisted pilots like me who might forget or don’t to push in the red and blue knobs before the black one.
 
I haven’t been to California in years and no desire or plans of going anytime soon, the above being a prime example of why. That state is worse than even Canada with their policies. My wife likes California mainly because it reminds her of where she’s from in Europe, landscape wise. I then showed her the beaches of Florida and now she seems to no longer care too much for California lol. Tried to convince her of the beauty of Texas but that didn’t work unfortunately haha.
 
Seems like this is an issue that is governed by the FAA and hence the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution should preempt this action.

And the apparent requirement for pilots who fly to California from other states to get the STC in order to legally refuel at the affected airports would seem to violate the interstate commerce clause. However, one thing I'm wondering is whether that and the supremacy clause affect civil cases in state courts between non-governmental entities. (Not arguing, just asking.)
 
Anybody else see the Swift CEO's swipe at Gami's fuel in the comments of the AvWeb article?
At least that's how I read it. An interesting angle on the legalities.
And I don't think this is the first time he's badmouthed Gami publicly either.

Chris D’Acosta February 17, 2024 At 10:50 pm
California FBO’s: Don’t panic. Instead, do your due diligence.
The fuel described in the attached letter has known defects reported in the media — which may be why it is not Commercially Available. Apparently, it has not completed the necessary prerequisites to be in the marketplace. The FAA alone does not make this decision.
Is it possible that airports / pilots / lawyers could be liable or negligent if they advocate a fuel using Section 2.3.1 a) in the Consent Judgement that has not completed industry-mandated due diligence, for example ASTM International fuel standards? Be careful.
Finally, Section 2.3.1 a) of the Consent Judgment is poorly worded and must not interfere with existing contracts involving the sale of Commercially Available unleaded fuels that are already FAA approved and meet ASTM industry standards.
Chris D’Acosta, CEO – Swift Fuels
 
Okay, here's what I'm looking at... plugs don't even factor into it. I rarely even have to clean a plug because I run my engine pretty lean.

I change my oil at 50 hrs, and sample it. What I notice is that the oil is still in great shape, but it's absolutely loaded with lead. With unleaded fuel, even conventional oil should easily make 100hr intervals, and I expect to see synthetics enter the market that can go 200 while significantly reducing engine wear. Oil changes are $400 at my shop. I usually do it myself, but frankly that probably costs me more if I place a value on my time. So 400/50 is $8/hr. Divide that by 15gal/hr, and that alone is worth 53 cents/ gallon.

What kills engine's? It's never wear. It's valve problems, blowby, or cam/ lifter failures. Most valve problems are a direct result of lead. Lead deposits on the seats creat hotspots that burn valves. Lead deposits on the stems cause sticking valves and can damage valve guides ruining the heads. Blowby is caused by lead deposits under the rings. Cams... well that's usually a lack of flying. Synthetics may do a better job of protecting against corrosion, but I'm not going to hang my hat on that.

Synthetic oils will also extend the life of all the oil wetted parts. The bottom ends of these engines are already capable of going 4000 hours. If we can keep the cams and pistons better lubricated with modern synthetic oils, I think pushing overhauls out to 3-4000 hours will be commonplace for planes that fly frequently. Doubling tbo on a $50k engine that burns 15gal/hr works out to $1.67/gal. Now, doubling might be a stretch, but even half of that number is significant.

There's other possibilities too. I think closed loop EFI will become common in the experimental world. Even my old certified bird could use a wide-band O2 sensor to give me real time feedback on the air:fuel ratio.

Just sticking my borescope in my engine is enough to make me want to get the lead out, and my engine runs pretty clean as evidenced by my plugs.

Taking off the rose colored glasses for a minute, I do want to know what happened at UND. I'm not convinced they did a careful enough study to place the blame on the fuel, but it certainly gives me pause. I'm very interested to see what lycoming has to say about it, but it's been 3 months now of radio silence. I tend to believe that if valve recession were going to be a problem, GAMI would've found it. Maybe it's something specific to the lower octane fuel? Maybe it's the lack of lead fouling cushioning the valve seats. It's a big unanswered question to be plowing ahead with all this.
Keep dreaming.….. I see a sales job in your future. lol. ;)
 
I haven’t been to California in years and no desire or plans of going anytime soon, the above being a prime example of why. That state is worse than even Canada with their policies. My wife likes California mainly because it reminds her of where she’s from in Europe, landscape wise. I then showed her the beaches of Florida and now she seems to no longer care too much for California lol. Tried to convince her of the beauty of Texas but that didn’t work unfortunately haha.
cool story
 
And the apparent requirement for pilots who fly to California from other states to get the STC in order to legally refuel at the affected airports would seem to violate the interstate commerce clause. However, one thing I'm wondering is whether that and the supremacy clause affect civil cases in state courts between non-governmental entities. (Not arguing, just asking.)
Federal preemption covers civil law, court rulings, state laws, you name. That is why it is the Supremacy Clause. A consent decree is also limited to the parties to the original suit, no one else. Therein lies the rub.

There are about 26 FBO's who have agreed not to sell 100LL when lead free becomes available. More problematic is that several fuel distributors have agreed not to sell 100LL in California at that time. So the issue will be what these FBO's and distributors decide to do, and when they decide to do it. The enforcement mechanism is civil contempt proceedings in the Alameda Superior Court. Preemption can block that. But preemption alone might not be able to force the fuel distributors, et al, to providing 100LL. This is going to be interesting going forward. Link to the consent decree is here:

 
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Seems like a government mandated monopoly.
Anyone think the Swift might sue for CA picking the winner in the 100UL competition? How about the 100LL manufacturers. Think they will sue for CA outlawing their products?...
This appears to be a settlement of a civil suit between non-governmental entities. I'm not aware of the State of California having issued any mandates to eliminate leaded avgas. So far, the only mandates I'm aware of in the state have been issued by local governments for airports that they own or operate. As for the monopoly question, would the fact that GAMI will be licensing its production and distribution to other companies avoid that issue? Dunno.

The consent decree does not appear to pick a winner in the 100UL competition. According to the letter published by Avweb that seeks to enforce the consent decree on Signature Aviation, "Pursuant to Section 2.3.1(a) of the Consent Judgment, Signature Aviation is required to distribute in California Avgas with the lowest concentration of lead approved for aviation use that is commercially available to Signature Aviation." The only thing that favors GAMI's product is that it is the only zero-lead fuel that is close to becoming commercially available and is usable in all piston-aircraft engines.

[Edited because 94UL is zero-lead, but is not usable in all piston-aircaft engines.]
 
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Federal preemption covers civil law, court rulings, state laws, you name. That is why it is the Supremacy Clause. A consent decree is also limited to the parties to the original suit, no one else.
Thanks for the quick answer!
 
And the apparent requirement for pilots who fly to California from other states to get the STC in order to legally refuel at the affected airports would seem to violate the interstate commerce clause.

Option: use self-serve fuel?

<edit: sorry, I just saw where you were focused on states vs feds, and less about the practical “getting fuel on a XC”.>
 
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I would add - working over a wide range of engines (compressions, cam profiles, bores/stokes) and ham fisted pilots like me who might forget or don’t to push in the red and blue knobs before the black one.
As @Half Fast said, it doesn't matter where the octane comes from. If you have high enough octane, those things don't matter, or at least are no different from what you'd get with lead.
 
As @Half Fast said, it doesn't matter where the octane comes from. If you have high enough octane, those things don't matter, or at least are no different from what you'd get with lead.

No doubt. The challenge is the same.

Octane is for detonation avoidance. Those things do matter. Rev up your manual transmission car and drop the clutch in 3rd gear. You can hear the knock. Same effect in a plane when it’s too lean on take off or coarse prop going WOT.
 
Option: use self-serve fuel?

<edit: sorry, I just saw where you were focused on states vs feds, and less about the practical “getting fuel on a XC”.>

I think practical issues do matter to the question I asked. I'm not a lawyer, but I can imagine that measures that cause de-facto inability of out-of-state pilots to legally refuel their aircraft when they travel to California without acquiring an STC in advance could constitute an illegal restraint of interstate commerce.

I haven't done much reading of the documents, so I don't know whether the consent decree allows the parties to the suit to continue selling leaded fuel alongside of the unleaded variety once the latter becomes commercially available. I doubt that self-serve vs. getting it from a truck would make any difference.
 
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I think practical issues do matter to the question I asked. I'm not a lawyer, but I can imagine that measures that cause de-facto inability of out-of-state pilots to legally refuel their aircraft when they travel to California without acquiring an STC in advance could constitute an illegal restraint of interstate commerce.

I haven't done much reading of the documents, so I don't know whether the consent decree allows the parties to the suit to continue selling leaded fuel alongside of the unleaded variety once the latter becomes commercially available. I doubt that self-serve vs. getting it from a truck would make any difference.

It wouldn’t make a difference to legality, but would in practicality if one were to use the illegal option. If I land at an airport with only a full-service fuel option (Signature FBO or at my home field where self-serve is not an option) and all they have is full-serve no- lead fuel, then I would need to either present the STC, or have to buy the STC on the spot in order to get fuel. However, if I go to self serve fuel, I can break the law on my own and be on my way.
 
There are about 26 FBO's who have agreed not to sell 100LL when lead free becomes available. More problematic is that several fuel distributors have agreed not to sell 100LL in California at that time. So the issue will be what these FBO's and distributors decide to do, and when they decide to do it. The enforcement mechanism is civil contempt proceedings in the Alameda Superior Court. Preemption can block that. But preemption alone might not be able to force the fuel distributors, et al, to providing 100LL. This is going to be interesting going forward. Link to the consent decree is here:


Thanks for the additional details. When I saw the list of specific FBOs, I was thinking that maybe it wouldn't cover airports where they don't operate, but then I saw the list of distributors and realized that figuring out which airports are covered would not be so easy.
 
No doubt. The challenge is the same.

Octane is for detonation avoidance. Those things do matter. Rev up your manual transmission car and drop the clutch in 3rd gear. You can hear the knock. Same effect in a plane when it’s too lean on take off or coarse prop going WOT.
Agree with your points, my only point is that's independent of where the octane comes from. 100UL has met that threshold and been pretty extensively tested.
 
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