Chris D’Acosta, CEO of Swift Fuel updated an AirVenture audience today on his company’s efforts to provided a drop-in replacement for 100LL by 2023. The effort is built around the STC process and should handily outpace the legislated EAGLE path shared by the FAA and EPA which appears to be on track for a 100LL replacement by 2030.
The new fuel is known as 100R; Swift has been selling a lower octane unleaded fuel known as UL94 for some years. D’Acosta said 100R will replace UL94 as the new fuel will service both low and high compression engines.
Working within FAA regulations and in concert with the FAA, ASTM standards, and with guidance from OSHA, DOT, EPA, aviation engine and airframe makers, refiners and distributors Swift is engaged in “a bulletproof review process” building an “enriched STC process that will stand up [to scrutiny] and not get knocked down,” says D’Acosta.
D’Acosta described building their STC as a collaborative process to ease Swift’s upcoming 100R fuel’s acceptance once it hits the market.
Noting all avgas is a premium product with high octane, low vapor pressure and no oxidation allowance D’Acosta listed 100R’s main characteristics as 100 MON octane, cost containable (affordable), oxygenated for more complete combustion, FAA certified (STC’d), intermixable with 100LL in any combination and on sale in 2023. It is designed to work with all engines currently running 100LL, including high compression and turbocharged models.
D’Acosta, who has a 40 year career in the petroleum industry, especially emphasized Swift will work with the existing petroleum industry by licensing the fuel for widespread manufacture and distribution. He also noted the Swift 100R STC will follow the UL94 STC in its $100 cost per airframe, and its automatic updating at no additional charge as Swift tweaks the STC with future upgrades. To date Swift has updated the UL94 STC 11 times at no additional cost to STC holders.
Testing of 100R is ongoing in Swift’s automated, video camera equipped test cell. In a nod to transparency, D’Acosta said there will be, “endless video taped data for everyone to examine forever.” He also cited a 15 times expansion in Swift’s production capacity at their test center which includes 260,000 gallons of storage.
Always a hiccup with any unleaded fuel is the “spare tank” requirement for storage of the fuel at airports already equipped with 100LL tanks. Various workarounds have been proposed since the introduction of UL94 including a large number of Federal government supplied tanks, or a limited number of government subsidized tanks, both of which are problematic from political and government/business separation standpoints. It appears 100R can debut by going into existing UL94 tanks and grow organically from there.