FAA Wants Proposals to Transition General Aviation to Unleaded Fuel

The DOT agency is asking the world's fuel producers to submit proposals for fuel options by next year and is committed to the development of a new unleaded fuel by 2018.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced June 10 that it is asking the world's fuel producers to submit detailed proposals by July 1, 2014, for fuel options that would help the general aviation industry make the transition to an unleaded fuel. The agency said it is committed to the development of a new unleaded fuel by 2018 that would minimize the impact of replacing 100-octane low-lead fuel for most of the general aviation fleet.

The FAA will base its judgment about the viability of candidate fuels "in terms of their impact on the existing fleet, their production and distribution infrastructure, their impact on the environment and toxicology, and economic considerations," according to the announcement.

"General aviation is vital to the U.S. economy and is an important form of transportation for many Americans," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We need to work with industry to develop an unleaded fuel that advances aviation safety and improves the environment."

By Sept. 1, 2014, the FAA will select up to 10 suppliers to participate in phase one laboratory testing at its William J. Hughes Technical Center, with up to two fuels then chosen for phase two engine and aircraft testing. During the succeeding five years, the agency will ask fuel producers to submit 100 gallons of fuel for phase one testing and 10,000 gallons of fuel for phase two testing.

"The FAA knows the general aviation community and the Environmental Protection Agency are focused on this issue, and we look forward to collaborating with fuel producers to make an unleaded avgas available for the general aviation fleet," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

The announcement said FAA has tested more than 279 fuel formulations trying to find a "drop-in" solution that would not necessitate aircraft or engine modifications for the large number of aircraft involved -- approximately 167,000 aircraft in the United States and a total of 230,000 worldwide that rely on 100 low lead avgas. It said this new request responds to the July 2012 Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee report to the FAA, which said a "drop-in" unleaded replacement fuel is unavailable and may not be technically feasible. 100 low lead avgas is the sole transportation fuel still used in the United States that contains the addition of tetraethyl lead to create the high octane levels needed for high-performance aircraft engines.

The request is available at https://faaco.faa.gov. For more information on the FAA's efforts on avgas, go to www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/avgas.

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