Fuel supplier Phillips 66 has warned that environmental pressure to switch to unleaded aviation gasoline could increase US avgas prices by up to 50%.

The Oklahoma-based firm expects today's 100-octane low-lead (100LL) avgas to be available for the next five years, but admits that pressure to eliminate this last unleaded gasoline product is driving the industry to seek alternatives.

"It is likely that unleaded aviation gasoline can be produced to meet a minimum requirement of 97 or 98 lean octane within five years," says aviation manager Jill Bogan. "Initial evaluation of testing, refinery production and distribution costs to produce this fuel points to an increase in avgas prices by an estimated 40-50%," she warns.

Unleaded avgas will require additives not used in aviation gasoline or automative fuel, which Bogan cautions will require "-several years for certification testing".

An increase in avgas prices would hurt fixed-base operators (FBOs), which are sustained by fuel sales. Phillips says that the number of US FBOs has reduced from 10,000 in 1980 to 3,800.

Phillips 66, which claims 25% of the US100LL market, forecasts that the country's piston-powered general-aviation fleet will grow by 1% a year over the next ten years, but will be outstripped by the turbine-powered fleet.

Source: Flight International