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Fuel and the Environment

Transition to Unleaded Avgas - A Marathon, not a Sprint

Historically, environmental concerns related to general aviation have not received the attention of other modes of transportation. However, in October, 2006 the environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOE) filed a petition seeking the regulation of lead emissions from general aviation aircraft. In response to that petition, on April 28, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on Lead Emissions from Piston-Engine Aircraft using Leaded Aviation Gasoline.

EAA, along with the other members of the GA Avgas Coalition, advocated that currently there is insufficient data to develop lead emissions regulation for aircraft engines. Extensive testing will be needed to obtain the data required to make a proper determination. The GA Avgas Coalition is made up of GA aircraft operators, aircraft manufacturers, avgas point of sale – fixed based operators, and avgas producers. The future of GA fuel is a technical matter, and requires collaboration from all entities involved, from the government, industry, and the GA community.

Some of the particular issues the coalition points out include:

  • Any current finding on lead endangerment is premature, as additional data is still forthcoming and current data is incomplete. Complete data is not expected until early 2012;
  • The best solution will be found by working in cooperation with FAA and GA stakeholders, so that the aviation industry and affected businesses are not endangered;
  • Reformulation of avgas without an adequate solution that meets the needs of the entire existing fleet at this time would create negative safety implications;
  • Creating multiple grades of fuel for aviation use would bring difficulties in distribution that could hamper availability in some areas.

EAA has been involved, since the early 1980’s, when formal certification work for use of automotive gasoline in small aircraft began. EAA has been a member of various working groups, including the American Standard Test Method (ASTM) aviation fuel committee and the US Coordinating Research Council (CRC).

Today, EAA’s efforts are focused on working with a coalition of associations including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the General Aviation Manufactures Association (GAMA) to focus on transitioning to more environmentally friendly products while addressing the needs of the legacy fleet. Transitioning for new products makes it difficult to “keep’em flying,” but EAA is working to educate and ensure that members are aware of the challenges, promote the development of alternatives, provide the stage of “Oshkosh,” and advocate and represent your needs with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and fuel suppliers. All ideas are welcome and each alternative needs to be examined and tested with the utmost transparency.

EAA's Doug MacNair talks about why the EPA should take more time to study Aviation Fuel

AirVenture 2010 GA Avgas Coalition Briefing
Presented by AOPA, API, EAA, GAMA, NATA, NBAA, and NPRA

Comments of the GA Avgas Coalition on the EPA Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

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