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Lead Removal Efforts From Fuel Must Maintain GA Safety and Viability

Removing lead from aviation gasoline is everyone’s common goal, but must at the same time preserve general aviation safety and viability, according to statements on Tuesday from GA groups (including EAA) and the FAA/industry EAGLE partnership made during the Environmental Protection Agency’s public hearing regarding its proposed endangerment finding involving lead emissions from aviation gasoline.

The aviation community’s statements came during a virtual public hearing hosted by the EPA to receive data and comments in relation to the proposed endangerment finding announced on October 7. The united GA groups’ comments were presented by Jim Coon, AOPA’s senior vice president of government affairs and advocacy.

“The general aviation industry firmly supports removing lead from aviation gasoline and any transition in pursuing this goal should be done safely and smartly,” the prepared comments stated, further noting that progress has already been made toward the year 2030 goal for removal of lead from aviation gasoline set forth by the EAGLE (Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions) initiative unveiled in early 2022. Robert Olislagers, EAGLE’s senior coordinator, also presented comments during the public hearing that reinforced the need for a coordinated, orderly, and safe transition.

The GA statement to the EPA also noted the progress already made that could bring a widely available lead-free gasoline to airports prior to 2030. That progress includes:

  • GAMI-issued supplemental type certificates (STCs) for nearly all GA piston aircraft engines and airframes. In addition, they are currently working toward STCs for rotorcraft. Steps are now being taken to move this fuel through the commercialization process.
  • Swift Fuels is currently working through the FAA approval process for its 100-octane unleaded avgas and has said that it hopes to complete FAA certification in 2023.
  • Philips 66 and Afton Chemical, as well as LyondelleBasell and VP Racing, also have unleaded fuel candidates being evaluated by the FAA’s Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative (PAFI) — and progress on these fuels is being made, as well.

The GA community also urged that the FAA be given the resources needed to expedite testing, validation, and demonstrations for authorized and potential unleaded fuel solutions. That testing support would ensure a proper transition while maintaining GA’s value to society and the economy.

While highlighting that GA burns only about 180 million gallons of fuel each year — the approximately amount used on the nation’s highways every four hours — the aviation groups emphasized that “we cannot compromise the safe and efficient operation of the (GA) fleet or economically destroy the United States general aviation transportation infrastructure by prematurely removing an essential fuel that many aircraft need.”

The EPA is scheduled to release its final endangerment finding in 2023.

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