A small percentage–about 20 percent–of the piston-powered fleet requires 100-octane fuel. Yet these aircraft burn about 70 percent of the total avgas volume, according to Allen Bretz, director of general aviation market at ConocoPhillips.
Although avgas is expensive, there is no shortage in the U.S., and oil companies continue to support its production and distribution. Nonetheless, Cessna Aircraft has decided to outfit its best-selling 172 Skyhawk with a diesel engine. Starting in the middle of next year, Cessna dealers will sell the Skyhawk TD powered by a 155-hp Thielert turbocharged diesel engine installed under an FAA supplemental type certificate (STC).
GA activity at Westchester County Airport in New York is declining, according to airport manager Peter Scherrer. He said the decline is “worrying.” Avgas fuel sales dropped from 397,247 gallons last year to a projected total of 372,000 gallons this year.
Tyler Jet founder and owner Tim Beverley believes that it’s smart business for pilots to back-load fuel rather than tanker with full loads from home base. The extra wear on engines, tires and brakes is only part of the reason for buying inexpensive fuel on the way home from a round-robin trip, rather than on the way out.
Just over a year after its merger, ChevronTexaco (the entity that resulted when the two oil giants came together after a landmark $45 billion deal) has released some of the details of its newly realigned general aviation fuel business. Representing only a tiny percentage of even its airline-centered fuels trade, the general aviation sliver of the pie is, nevertheless, an important one to the merged companies, or so they say.
Emily and Arve Henriksen initially expected to open their Million Air franchise at Mobile (Ala.) Regional Airport (MOB) last year. “We anticipated a six-month wait negotiating the terms of the lease and up to a year for construction,” said CFO Emily. “It was a lot more difficult than we realized.”
Linemen at Pride Flight Services in Alexandria, La., need to know their stuff. The sole FBO at England Alexandria International Airport (AEX), Pride has as diverse an overall clientele as any FBO in the country, serving major airlines, regionals, military aircraft and a wide range of general aviation traffic.
The Wilson Air Center FBO chain, exhibiting at the Shell Aviation Booth (No. 405), has solved a weighty problem in fuel sales by introducing a system on its fuel trucks that registers fuel uploads in pounds as well as gallons. Fuel sales of avgas and jet-A have heretofore been indicated in gallons.
General aviation late last week won a major battle, but not yet the entire war, against user fees. The House of Representatives last Thursday approved H.R.2881, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007, and the next morning the Senate Finance Committee drastically modified the tax provisions in its companion bill, S.1300.
The House of Representatives this afternoon approved an FAA reauthorization bill that raises the tax on jet-A from 21.8 to 35.9 cents a gallon and the tax on avgas from 19.3 to 24.1 cents a gallon. To the relief of general aviation, it contains no user fees and no concessions to the airlines. The airline taxes–including 7.5 percent on tickets and 4.3 cents a gallon on jet fuel–will remain at existing levels.