Aviation gasoline (avgas) is the aviation fuel most commonly used in piston-engine aircraft within the general aviation community. Avgas remains the only transportation fuel in the United States to contain lead. More than 222,600 registered piston-engine aircraft can operate on leaded avgas. The most common and reliable type of avgas is 100 octane Low Lead, also known as 100LL. This leaded fuel contains tetra-ethyl-lead (TEL), which is an additive used to prevent engine damage at higher power settings. Although the FAA does not have direct regulatory responsibility for aviation fuels, it provides the initial certification approval of the aircraft with the fuel it operates on, and it oversees aircraft operators to ensure use of the correct fuel.
Getting the Lead Out
The FAA is working with critical government and industry partners to develop a multi-layered strategy to reduce and ultimately eliminate lead and its potential harmful effects from fuel for piston-engine aircraft based on various recommendations in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report. This strategy includes continued FAA collaboration with industry through the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI).
The FAA also continues to support other fuel applicants who have decided to pursue engine and airframe approvals that would allow the use of their fuel formulations via traditional certification processes, through the supplemental type certificate (STC) process, as spelled out in Section 565(c) of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.
Path to a Lead-Free Aviation System – the EAGLE Initiative
On February 23, 2022, the FAA joined aviation and petroleum industry stakeholders to announce a comprehensive public-private partnership to transition to lead-free aviation fuels for piston-engine aircraft by the end of 2030. This initiative to Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions (EAGLE) will expand and accelerate government and industry actions and investments as well as establish the necessary policies and activities to permit both new and existing general aviation aircraft to operate lead-free, without compromising aviation safety and the economic and broader public benefits of general aviation.
The EAGLE Initiative is based on four pillars of action (depicted in the graphic above) designed to foster the necessary regulatory, innovation, and infrastructure solution sets to enable the commercial viability needed to facilitate the transition. For program definitions and answers to the most frequently asked questions about the EAGLE initiative, see Unleaded Fuel Development FAQs and Definitions (March 2022).
On March 16-17, 2022, the inaugural EAGLE meeting was held in Washington, D.C. This two-day EAGLE meeting was an industry-sponsored event that convened more than 120 U.S. and international stakeholders. EAGLE participants discussed:
- Organizational framework
- Details of each pillar
- Activities and associated timelines
- Commitments of time, resources, and expertise to support the four pillars
- Individual feedback on potential outcomes and actions for each pillar
Additional EAGLE stakeholder meetings and presentations will be held three times annually. Documents from these gatherings are available here:
Meeting Materials and Participant Information from EAGLE Stakeholder Meeting, March 2023
Meeting Materials and Participant Information from EAGLE Stakeholder Meeting, November 2022
Meeting Materials and Participant Information from EAGLE Stakeholder Meeting, June 2022
Meeting Materials and Participant Information from Inaugural EAGLE Meeting, March 2022
Piston Engine Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI)
- Background and Program Update - August 2022
- Test Plan Matrix - June 2022
- Lessons Learned - August 2022
- Best Practices - August 2022
- Considerations - August 2022
FAA & EPA Collaboration
The FAA is also in close collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on lead emissions associated with avgas.
- EPA Regulations for Lead Emissions from Aircraft
- EPA Press Release, January 12, 2020: Evaluating Lead Emissions from Piston-Engine Aircraft
Media Inquiries: Contact the FAA Press Office at email@example.com
Contact the FAA’s Alternative Fuels Team
Avgas Information and Resources
- The National Academies Press, Options for Reducing Lead Emissions from Piston-Engine Aircraft
- Final report of the Unleaded AVGAS Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee (UAT ARC) - Unleaded AVGAS Findings & Recommendations
- Guidance on Transitioning a Flight School to Unleaded Avgas
Legislation and Policy
- Section 565, Aviation Fuel, of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (Pub. L. 115-254)
- Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular No. A-119 (February 10, 1998)
Last updated: Tuesday, September 05, 2023