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Sun 'n Fun Report


1) Ryan Manor from Phillips Petroleum provided an update on their effort to certify an unleaded 100 octane avgas. This is a joint effort between Phillips (a ConocoPhillips company) and Afton Chemical, the provider of the octane booster involved.

Industry background: the EPA petition to abolish lead in avgas is on hold, and has been since 2010 when the advance rulemaking was paused.

The Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative came off the tracks last year when the FAA process went infeasible. Swift has since abandoned PAFI, reportedly, and is pursuing a development agreement with the FAA. The other participant, Shell, has reportedly entered into ad hoc agreements with the FAA to support the certification of their heavy-alcohol containing unleaded avgas.

[Ryan did not speak to GAMI's STC effort the GAMI 100 UL.]

Ryan explained that avgas today moves by rail, barge and truck, and is likely to continue to do so. Technically, unleaded avgas might be movable by pipeline, but the logistics and economics are unlikely to support that.

The future of lead is limited... only Algeria still uses lead in mogas, and Algeria is phasing out lead this year. And then there's world leaded avgas. Innospec, the tetra-ethyl-lead supplier, has said they will manufacture as long as there is a market, but there are risks to that supply chain.

For a feel for the market size, Ryan pointed out that there's about 200 million gallons per year (GPY) of avgas sold in the US, but 26 *b*illion gallons of jet fuel sold. GA jet is a small potion of that, about 1.5 billion GPY. Avgas consumption continues to decline about 0.6%/year. (These number can be difficult to verify, as EIA, the Energy Information Administration, has changed their reporting process over time.)

There are 120 refineries in the US, but only 8 of those make avgas. Going forward with unleaded avgas, it may not be these same 8 refineries, but it's unlikely to become a large number of refineries in this niche due to the facilities required.

There are 167,000 piston-powered aircraft in the US, and 61% of them can use mogas. However, the 43% of the fleet that must have avgas consume 80% of the aviation fuel volume... they fly more, and burn much more per hour. So 100 octane is required to address this 80% of demand, and a special fuel for the 20% is likely uneconomic, since avgas itself is marginally economic.

Since January of 1996, there has been no lead in the mogas pool.

The FAA's ARC (Aviation Research Committee( published a 260 page recommendation nearly a decade ago, recommending the PAFI process. Since then the EPA has been collecting additional lead exposure data as well, after deciding to reduce the ambient lead in air permissible limit by an order of magnitude, from 1.5 microgram/meter cubed to 0.15 microgram/meter cubed. The EPA's ambient survey identified 17 airports where the lead exceeds this new limit, and may pose a risk to nearby residents.

PAFI was delayed last year due to the difficulty in formulating mitigations for the difficulties encountered in their fuel testing. Swift exited the process to pursue a different approval approach. Shell is about to resume testing with the FAA to address the identified concerns. Swift's fuel is denser than others; there's a press release on Swift's website detailing their stance.

Congressional action created a 180 day mandate for the FAA to provide fleetwide approval of a candidate fuel, upon completion of PAFI phase 2 and a product specification. There are 40 guidance documents on avgas in the FAA's portfolio that will require review and possibly revision once the successful unleaded avgas is better understood, for the entire process from refinery to wingtip. The FAA requires an endangerment finding from the EPA to justify banning leaded fuel. (?)

Ryan was reminded that Congress told the FAA over a decade ago to remake pilot certificates with ID photos, and has not. Is there any enforcement of the 180 day mandate? Or is it another toothless directive from Congress? Ryan didn't appear to have considered that possibility.

Phillips has entered into a cooperative research and development agreement with the FAA, to allow testing of Phillips candidate fuel at the FAA tech center in Atlantic City. Phillips hopes to benefit from a fleet-wide authorization. Ryan then turned the presentation over to Afton representative Zach.

Zach announced he wanted to address the composition and cost of the proposed MMT (methyl manganese T) octane enhancer. The chemistry is similar to what was used in mogas in the 80's and 90's, but the additive package is not. MMT concentrations in mogas were quite low... they will be higher in avgas. So a phosphate manganese scavenger has been added to the package. Spark plugs will still require cleaning, like they do with leaded fuels, but the cleaning will be different. Lead tends to leave balls in the nooks and crannies of the plug space. MMT tends to deposit red dust on the electrodes, which is amenable to standard plug cleaning/blasting techniques. Picking the manganese out won't happen, it will need blasting.

Afton is communicating with the FAA on the manganese question, and working with Champion on spark plug issues. There was a brief commotion as a number of audience members strongly endorsed Tempest over Champion, and suggested Afton work with Tempest instead. Zach seemed surprised by the suggestion. Zach feels there is a lot of opportunity in the spark plug space; perhaps different heat ranges will work better for the MMT fuels, whether colder or hotter. That caused some concern about the other implications of plug heat range on detonation, etc.

Zach shared that avgas motor octanes vary from 104 down to spec minimum 99.5 today.

Zach opined that spark plug design is premised on lead, so exploring different additives may provide cause to reevaluate different plug designs.

Phillips expects to license their 100UL formulation to others. Phillips has 800 avgas dealers today, and encourages pilots to learn more by visiting

2) A side conversation ensued on appropriate RTV (room temperature vulcanizing) sealants. The discriminant should be whether the RTV upon application liberates acetic acid (smells like vinegar) or not. Generally, the RTVs that Aircraft Spruce sells are appropriate.

3) Ed Kollin & Camguard. Ed began by explaining the additive package in AeroShell 15-50 and 100+, which he felt justified in addressing, since the AeroShell folks have been broadly mischaracterizing the properties of Camguard. AeroShell's 15-50 and 100+ (but not the 100W) have three additive components:

a) a triphenyl phosphate (TPP) anti-scuff, like the TCP originally required by Lycoming in their H2AD engines, and recommended by Lycoming for all their engines. Unfortunately, this additive can make the Continental starter adapter slip, as it did on Ed's 210 some years ago.

b) a rust inhibitor, which is good for a couple of days. Camguard contains 25 times as much rust inhibitor. But, Shell uses a less expensive, lower performance inhibitor which can't be increased in concentration, because it causes corrosion to OTHER metals found in the engine.

c) a copper corrosion inhibitor, required because the TPP above attacks copper. Before addition of this additional inhibitor, oil analysis results would show TPP attach on copper resulting in oil analysis copper rising from 5 ppm to 500 ppm.

If you're intent on using 100+, Ed recommends you add Camguard to protect the engine.

Camguard contains 11 additives.

The rest of the competition has gone away... Exxon Elite was recently withdrawn; BP's Castrol aviation oil preceded it into obscurity.

Ed was asked what's in Marvel Mystery Oil, MMO? 30% Varsol (mineral spirits), 69% 30 weight motor oil, and 1% dye and scent. MMO was developed in the 1920s to remove fuel varnish from carburetors. Current acceptable use, in Ed's opinion, is for lubricating air tools, and in very small quantities to keep fuel bladders wetted. Note that MMO in the fuel reduces octane, perhaps 1/2 number for each 1% added.

Ed asked if folks were experiencing engine hesitation at 10,000 to 12,000 feet running, say, 40 degrees lean of peak, and perhaps lower power? This is a sticking valve situation he believes. At those lean conditions, the bromine included in 100LL to scavenge lead makes lead oxybromite (PbOBr) instead of lead bromide (PbBr). The solution is to run at 80% power or 200 ROP to burn off the PbOBr. At power settings 65% and below, you're not going to hurt anything... so above 10,000 feet normally aspirated, run at peak EGT to help the scavenger get the lead out.

Do NOT use Camguard at break-in, but follow your shop's specific break-in procedures./F

Will Camguard scavenge deposits out of older engines, say 500 to 1000 to 2000 hours? And does that mean it should be avoided? No, Camguard won't scavenge old depoists, but it does stop new deposits.

What about coffee ground like material in the oil filter? That's carbon, which deposits on hot parts of the valve train, and then subsequently flakes off to be caught by the filter.

There was a question about multi-vis oils. Ed explained that by definition, 20-50 and 50 weight are the same viscosity at 212 degrees F. However, above that temperature, 50 weight thins more rapidly with temperature than 20-50... so at 300 F, 20-50 will be thicker and offer more protection. (Note that operating oil temperatures in the engine can be as much as 50 degrees higher than the oil temperature TO the engine, measured just after the oil cooler, on the stock oil temperature gage.) Ed made some viscosity sound effects that were enjoyed by the crowd.

What is AvBlend? A thin mineral oil that offers no benefit to modern engines.

4) Barrett Performance Engines: followers of this premium engine shop are aware that founder Monty Barrett passed on a few years ago, to be succeeded by his younger son Alan. Now the relatively young Alan has been sidelined by a serious illness, so his older brother, Monty Junior, has returned from six years working at RAM to run the show with their sister Rhonda. Monty talked about Lycoming's efforts to bring cylinder manufacturing in house, versus using the long-time Lycoming cylinder supplier in Owassa OK. This wasn't successful, and the folks in Owassa are back building cylinders. Monty and Rhonda have been working to systemize and record the considerable knowledge of Dad and Brother, turning oral history into process-oriented work specifications.

5) Weldon was a new face at the show... we asked them about the differences between their PMA'd replacement aux fuel pump for the RG and the OEM Dukes pump which has become very expensive to repair. The Weldon pump still has brushes like the Dukes, but instead of a series-wound fixed windings, like the older Bendix Prestolite starter design, the Weldon has a permanent magnet field, like the newer high-speed, lightweight starters. Troubleshooting data: At full stall (pump running, but no throughput) the 12 volt pump should draw less than 6 amps. The 24 volt pump should draw less than 2.5 amps.

The new Weldon pumps have a metal impeller, versus the plastic impellers of the Dukes pump. This tends to make the Weldon pumps noisier, or more harsh sounding to some. But the metal impeller is claimed to wear and last better. Weldon had been independent for many decades, but is now owned by Kelly Aerospace. However, the Weldon rep reports, Kelly has vowed to keep hands off, to protect Weldon's reputation. We are watchfully waiting.

6) An A&P instructor speaking at the show was very definitive on his recommendations for those of us running Slick magnetos. Slick advertises a 12 year TBO on their mags, with 500 hour internal inspections for condition. A more recent recommendation is a 250 hour internal inspection for pressurized mags, due to the unenviable environment of hot pressurization air, with sometimes high water content. (Dessicant on the pressurization air would be an improvement, or do away with P air by going to a solid state magneto.)

Service document L1363 Revision G was issued in October 2017, relating to moisture in the magneto, and mandating the 250 hour inspection interval for pressurized mags.

SB1-19 addresses issues with the stop pins; inspecting them every 400 hours is not often enough (maybe everyone needs a 250 hour internal look-see?) Mags with serial numbers between 16010001 to 18050664 are affected.

SB1-15 is the distributor finger replacement bulletin we discussed on CFO somewhat recently. The copper fingers were coming loose from their plastic mounts. To differentiate the loosening fingers from good ones, Slick (Champion) has returned to monel fingers, which are silver instead of coppery colored, to make it easy to determine whether you have an affected (coppery) versus better (silvery) mag. From 9/1/2008 to 9/1/2016, a non-robust (!) process was employed to embed the metal finger. Apparently, the manufacturing die was worn after 62 million gears were manufactured, and the TLAR temperature control of the embedding process has now been computerized, with actual temperature measurement, versus TLAR (That Looks About Right) which is very subject to training issues. K3822 is black, K3008 is the gear.

SL1-17 addresses I/C nut torque. The drive gear should be torqued 120 inch-pounds. This primarily affected the little-deployed Continental IO240B, which suffers from harmonics destructive to engine accessories.

SL74-20-01 addresses M3081 points. Point wear advances timing. Total magneto timing adjustment over time should be logged; when 4 degrees total adjustment has occurred, the internal e-gap should be reset, to place the internals in position to optimize energy generation. Otherwise, starting difficulties may ensue. Remember, there are about 8 million firing events in 100 hours of mag life. A greater than 5 degree e-gap drift will result in low energy spark for starting.

In addition to factory overhaul options, there are shops whose DERs (designated engineering representatives) have secured FAA approval of their alternative overhaul instructions. For instance, Aircraft Spruce sells such overhauled mags, which are legally overhauled per the FAA, but not considered overhauled by the manufacturer. Quality Aircraft Accessories (QAA) in Oklahoma City can rebuild magnetos. Pricing comparison:

$650 to $700 for Spruce overhauls

$850 to $900 for QAA overhauls

$1100 for new

OTOH, Kelly Aerospace continues to overhaul magnetos, but these are generally considered lower quality overhauls with more infant mortality issues.

The 4271 and 4371 magnetos are similar, except the 4271 is subject to ADs.

Slick sells a 500 hour IRAN (inspect and repair as necessary) parts kit; these are not a wise investment, as many of the parts will not be needed, and other parts may be. At the 1,000 hour point, replace points and condenser, that's the design life. Slick won't sell the K3842 distributor block ala carte, should cost $500. Instead, they offer a $650 kit which includes the block. The Slick condenser and coil are universal across the magneto line. Wise shops buy kits and install parts as required, inventorying the remainder.

Setting the e-gap requires a #20 Torx driver, torqued to 5 to 20 inch pounds. The gap spec has evolved from 8 - 12 thou to 8 - 10 thou, but 12 thou continues to be fine. Installing points requires a special grease that is ozone resistant, as the arcing inside the mag creates lots of ozone from atmospheric oxygen.

Story: a Cessna 206, 111 hours SNEW, was being delivered from the factory in Liberty KS to a buyer in Idaho. The logs reflected 8 degrees of timing drift over 100 hours, requiring opening up the mag for an e-gap reset. The servicing shop lacked a T118 shear-protective timing pin. Instead, they used a similarly size drill bit. Apparently, the mag moved a bit during installation, and the mechanic didn't recognize that a piece of the drill bit had sheared off. The airplane operated adequately until over inhospitable terrain in Idaho, when the piece of drill bit became destructive shrapnel in the mag, causing timing mishap that destroyed the engine, and subsequently the new airplane in an off-airport landing.

[Dave's narrative makes me think solid-state magnetos might just be attractive! Paul]

7) B&C Specialty are makers of innovative design replacement and auxiliary alternators, starters, regulators, and various electrical and oil filtration adapter needs. They've launched a new website at which contains a number of tools to make it easier for electrical system builders and modifiers to understand their options. B&C continues to support an effort to add the Cardinal to their three aircraft types already approved for supplemental alternators mounted to the vacuum pad.

8) EarthX is proud to announce TSO approval of their very light weight lithium ship's batteries, complete with battery management hardware to avoid over and undercharging. LIFePO4 chemistry. Strter cranking amps are amazing, however, amp hour capacity for alternator failure are typically less than conventional batteries offer.

9) Enhanced Flight offers a quick-connect kit for batteryminders in certified aircraft.

10) Camarillo Aircraft Interiors has relocated from California to Conroe North Houston Regional Airport. They do nice work; if you were wondering where they'd gone, here you go! Aviation X Aircraft Interiors.

11) Alpha Systems hosted one of our daily CFO exhibit hangar meetups, and extolled the competitive advantage of their solutions over several of the Johnny-come-lately also rans. Alpha's spokesman wanted that the imputed solution Garmin and Aspen among others compute fails under certain circumstances that can be quite relevant to the pilot.

12) Aerostop offers a unique over-center lock secondary seat stop that can also provide a tiedown point where it might be installed on the seat rail. One CFO member has already installed Aerospots for tiedown points., Diamond Springs CA

13) JP Instruments' Marc Polizzotto reflected on the past decade of progress at JPI, on standardizing hardware platforms and software offerings so that the personality of one of their engine monitors is now defined in code (and of course assuming the associated hardware extensions are all installed on a given box). This has streamlined ongoing development and made support much more straightforward. Marc is excited about their next generation offerings that they're not quite ready to share.

14) Hartzell's Rolf Dickens spoke to the success of the composite scimitar blade props, such as the two-blade Trailblazer approved by GAMI STC on the Cardinal. Rolf is Senior Technical Representative for Product Support. He pointed out that in some applications, the broader bladed scimitar may be a knot or two slower in cruise, though CFO member reports have been to the contrary. However, in acceleration and climb, all agree on the superior performance. Rolf spoke to the 7 year overhaul requirement on the composite blades, and opined that many fewer problems would be encountered, as the blade shank where the hub seals and corrosion often sets in is now stainless steel on the Trailblazer, versus aluminum on the past decades of aluminum blades. In addition, instead of grinding away blade material at overhaul, instead the point is removed by sanding on the composite blade, which any build up necessary to return to factory specs being accomplished at the prop shop. Even the stainless steel leading edge can be removed and replaced by simply heating the adhesive to remove the leading edge.

15) Air Sync introduced a cell data based service to provide ongoing connectivity between your airplane on the ground or low altitude and your data. Attributes include fuel on board, location, trip history, engine performance, logging, etc.

16) TQ is a German company with now a US presence in Virginia, offering very small, lightweight panel mount radios that originated in the glider community, but function adequately in solving tight space constraints as Cardinal owners redesign their panels.

17) Wingbug is a portable external-mount data source to make your tablet panel more accurate. Functionality includes complete pitot-static, OAT, AHARS, GPS, and baro or on Facebook as TheWingBug

18) The vendor vibe was a little different at Sun 'n Fun this year... from day one, it was notable that instead of a dozen press conferences a day, it was one or two. The first day of the show seemed lightly attended. And new product announcement happened, but not seemingly at the pace of pervious years. Another leading indicator of the looming end of the business cycle? Our Chicago economists will have to opine...

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