Pilots, airlines focus on cleaner plane fuels

Swift Fuels execs will provide more details on their offering this weekend in Albany.

Swift Fuels execs will provide more details on their offering this weekend in Albany.

A company angling to commercialize the first unleaded aviation fuel for piston engines will provide the keynote at the Oregon Pilots Association Convention on Saturday.

Swift Fuels CEO Chris D’Acosta and Jon Ziulkowski, vice president of commercial operations, will speak to the convention crowd. And the group of pilots, company reps, and small airport operators at the Northwest Art & Air Festival in Albany will be listening closely.

The aviation industry is one of the only remaining sources of lead pollution in the atmosphere. Though jet planes already run on unleaded fuel, their smaller, piston-powered counterparts are facing an EPA mandate to convert, a shift the FAA has so far stalled for lack of a commercially viable alternative.

Mary Rosenblum, the OPA's incoming president, notes that piston engine planes are among one of few remaining sources of lead-based emissions. “We all share a lot of concerns about current pollution with aviation fuel," said Rosenblum. “We can’t keep emitting lead.”

The OPA invited Swift Fuels to its convention to hear the status of the company’s push toward a commercially viable solution and learn more about their fuel research and performance in different engines.

Swift Fuels was the only company to emerge as having a viable product from hundreds solicited by the FAA by a solution, according to Ziulkowski. He said the company has been refining and testing their product since that time in 2006 with few competitors.

The West Lafayette, Ind. company is now within 30 to 90 days of making its fuel a commercial reality. That’s the deadline by which the company expects a certification for its fuel.

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