3. The coalition complaint points out that federal law completely preempts the use of local law such as Proposition 65 to block or limit the sale of aviation gasoline in California or elsewhere. According to the complaint, the Federal Aviation Act bars state law from being used to regulate the routes and services offered by air taxi and charter airlines, while the federal Clean Air Act bars states from applying local emission standards to aircraft or engines. The complaint explains how a state prohibition on the sale and use of aviation gasoline would undermine the FAA's authority over safety certification of aircraft and aircraft engines. Only the FAA may specify what type of fuel may and may not be used by aircraft.
4. Currently, no safe alternative exists to replace leaded aviation gas for the entire piston-powered aircraft fleet. Indeed, the FAA has observed, "Over 160,000 piston-engine aircraft rely on this fuel for safe operation. The lead additive in avgas protects piston engines against damaging detonation (or engine knock) at the higher power levels required by aircraft. Operation with inadequate fuel performance can result in engine failure and aircraft accidents."
5. Fortunately, significant federal and private resources are being expended to facilitate a transition away from the necessary use of lead in aviation gasoline. The FAA, with exclusive oversight for aviation safety, and the EPA, which oversees environmental regulation of aircraft emissions, are hard at work with the general aviation industry - including fuel producers, developers and distributors, aircraft and engine manufacturers, and consumers - on the safe transition to an unleaded aviation gasoline for piston-powered aircraft. This collaboration is being accomplished through the FAA's Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee, which is tasked to address a host of factors including safety certification, fuel production and distribution, and environmental and economic concerns. The industry has also filed comments in an ongoing EPA rulemaking.
6. Additionally, Congress has expressed a significant interest in prioritizing federal activities by the FAA and NASA qualifying unleaded aviation fuel and safe transition to this fuel for the fleet of piston engine aircraft. The House FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011 (H.R. 658) includes a provision directing the FAA to develop a plan, within 120-days of enactment, containing the specific research and development objectives for a transition to an unleaded aviation gas, including consideration of aviation safety, technical feasibility, and other relevant factors, and the anticipated timetable for achieving the objectives. The general aviation community is asking Congress to authorize $2 million annually over four years in the FAA's research and development budget for Alternative Fuels for General Aviation, as requested in the President's budget. This research program will help develop FAA performance and certification methodologies necessary for qualification and certification of alternative unleaded aviation fuels.