Local company offering aircraft fuel conversion systems

A Wellington company, Air Plains Services, is tackling concerns about the continued use of 100 low lead aviation fuel by general aviation airplanes.

The company is offering an injection system to allow high-compression airplane engines run on low-octane, unleaded fuel.

The anti-detonant injection system, called Inpulse, is currently approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for use on Cessna 210, Cessna 188 and Beech Baron aircraft.

The company just returned from the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., where it displayed the product.

“It’s really been quite good,” Air Plains Services founder and president Mike Kelley said of response to the system.

He said the company gets inquiries daily from aircraft owners wanting to know whether the system will become available on other airplane models. It plans to add additional models soon, he said.

The international markets are especially interested in the system, where 100 low lead fuel is more expensive than it is in the U.S., Kelley said.

“We build kits for installation all around the world,” Kelley said. “We will install about 30 percent of them and ship 70 percent of them.”

Global environmental issues have raised concerns about the continued use of leaded gasoline by general aviation aircraft.

“There’s an environmental push,” Kelley said.

In addition, few refineries produce 100 low lead fuel.

“If there was a disaster in one of the refineries, then the supply would diminish greatly,” Kelley said.

The system allows airplanes to use 91 octane, ethanol-free automotive gas. The fuel costs about $2 less per gallon than 100 low lead fuel.

The system costs about $10,000.

“It can pretty much pay for itself in half the engine life,” Kelley said.

The system isn’t new technology. But the company is working with Petersen Aviation in Minden, Neb., to adapt and upgrade it for use today.

Air Plains Services builds the systems. It will install them or ship the kits to customers worldwide.

The company began 35 years ago and performs engine upgrades on Cessna single-engine airplanes.

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