The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shares the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) concerns about lead emissions from small aircraft. Owners and operators of more than 200,000 piston-engine aircraft operating in the United States rely on aviation gasoline (avgas) to power their aircraft. Avgas is the only remaining lead-containing transportation fuel. Lead in avgas prevents damaging engine knock, or detonation, that can result in a sudden engine failure. Lead is a toxic substance that can be inhaled or absorbed in the bloodstream, and the FAA and EPA and industry are partnering to remove it from avgas. Avgas emissions have become the largest contributor to the relatively low levels of lead emissions produced in this country.
To help "get the lead out," FAA is supporting the research of alternate fuels at our William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City. We are working with the aircraft and engine manufacturers, fuel producers, the EPA and industry associations to overcome technical and logistical challenges to developing and deploying a new, unleaded fuel.
The FAA continues to work with EPA to make this a smooth transition and to ensure the supply of aviation gasoline is not interrupted, and that all aircraft can continue to fly.
Recent Program Updates
March 26, 2014: Second SIR Informational Session
A second informational session will be held regarding the Replacement Unleaded Avgas R&D program, and the FAA request for candidate fuels, on March 26th. The latest version of the fuels request (Screening Information Request – SIR) can be found at the following link: https://faaco.faa.gov/index.cfm/announcement/view/15840
Also available at this link are the two presentations that we gave at the December 2013 ASTM meeting regarding the PAFI program and the SIR. In addition, the link also contains the official notification of the second informational session. This session will be presented in a Question and Answer format. As noted, an open period for interested parties to submit questions will extend through March 3rd. On March 26th, the questions will be presented, along with answers, by members of the PAFI Steering Group in a webinar. The signup page for the webinar can be found at: http://nbaa.peachnewmedia.com/store/seminar/seminar.php?seminar=25370
January 14-15, 2014: Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative Steering group (PAFI PSG) meeting held
The PAFI program enters the New Year on a positive note with Congress having authorized $6M for the FY14 budget to support the PAFI test program at the FAA Technical Center. The PAFI Industry Co-lead was identified and brought onboard in September 2013. Bi-monthly PAFI Steering Group meetings were launched in 2013 and will continue through 2014. This team continues to meet and complete the UAT ARC recommendations. To date all 5 key recommendations have been meet and 4 out of the 14 follow-on recommendations have been completed.
Currently in-work under PAFI PSG: A Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC), reporting directly to the FAA, has been formed by the FAA to serve as the primary evaluator of fuel proposals furnished in response to the SIR. Providing industry support and guidance to the PSG is a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) whose membership was identified in late 2013. TAC membership includes the primary OEM product manufacturers and other key stakeholders. Initial membership includes Air BP, Air Repair, AVFUEL Corp, Continental Motors, Beechcraft, Cape Air, Cessna Aircraft, Chevron, Cirrus, Dixie Services, Epic Aviation, Ethyl Corp, Everts Air, Exxon Mobil, Hartzell Propeller, Lycoming Engines, McCauley Propeller, Mooney Aircraft, Phillips 66, Piper Aircraft, Precision Airmotive, Precision Engines, and Robinson Helicopter.
These accomplishments all reflect actions implemented pursuant to the recommendations of the UAT ARC final report.
December 9, 2013: PAFI/SIR Briefing at ASTM Meeting
Presenters from the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative Steering Group (PSG) were on hand at the ASTM meeting in Tampa Florida. They provided two presentations. The first presentation was done collaboratively by Industry and the FAA to discuss PAFI, the accomplishments to date, the overview of the FAA Technical Center Testing Program for Phase 1 and Phase 2, and the fleetwide certification challenge. Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PDF). The second presentation was done by the FAA; it provided a briefing on Screening Information Request (SIR fuels request), FAA Screening Information Request (SIR) – Unleaded Avgas (PDF). This presentation provided background, instructions, and milestones for the SIR. The session was well attended and many issues were raised and discussed.
November 21, 2013: General Aviation Caucus Briefing
On November 21, 2013, the FAA, EPA and industry members of the Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative Steering Group met with Senators Begich and Johanns, co-leads of the Senate General Aviation Caucus Briefing and Senate staff. The meeting was to provide the avgas history and background, and an update on progress being made in the transition to an unleaded avgas. This briefing included discussion of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 section 910 and the FAA's R&D plan and report (PDF).
The briefing also included discussion on the Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee (UAT ARC), and accomplishments made since receipt of that team's report and recommendations.
On June 10, 2013, FAA issued a request for candidate fuel producers to submit unleaded fuel formulations to be evaluated as replacements for 100LL (https://faaco.faa.gov/index.cfm/announcement/view/15840). This announcement is a significant milestone in a government/industry collaborative effort to find an unleaded replacement fuel for the general aviation industry. The request for candidate fuels kicks off a multi-year R&D program that will help select the best unleaded fuel(s) with least impact on the general aviation fleet.