NATA Participates in GA Coalition Release of AVGAS Transition Plan

Alexandria, VA, July 28, 2010 – The General Aviation Avgas Coalition announced today at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s 2010 AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI, a strategy for the future of aviation gasoline (avgas). The General Aviation Avgas Coalition, which includes the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, American Petroleum Institute, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, National Air Transportation Association (NATA), National Business Aviation Association, and National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, is calling for the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) to implement a comprehensive program to develop aircraft engine emissions and airworthiness regulatory standards to reduce or remove lead from the fuel used in piston-engine aircraft.

Based on an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding lead content in aviation gasoline, the coalition was created to ensure the long-term viability and safety of general aviation as the industry seeks to reduce or remove lead from avgas. The EPA’s ANPR initiates a regulatory process to move toward the removal of lead in avgas in the future even though no known replacement is available for high-octane fuel at this time. More importantly, there is NO date set by which the EPA will ban 100LL.

The coalition’s goals are to ensure the continued availability of 100LL until a replacement solution is implemented, minimize the EPA’s actions on general aviation, and facilitate the FAA’s leadership role in ensuring the safety and establishment of appropriate airworthiness and lead emissions standards. The process being undertaken by the coalition will allow for all proposed alternatives to be equally evaluated and considered.

On Monday, the EPA informed the General Aviation Avgas Coalition that it will work with the general aviation industry and the FAA as the government and the industry seek a safe, viable alternative to the current formulation for aviation gasoline, which uses a lead additive. The commitment to work with industry came in a written response to several questions submitted to the agency by the avgas coalition.

In a letter from Margo Tsirigotis Oge, director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, the agency told the coalition, “EPA has not established or proposed any date by which lead emissions from aircraft operating on leaded avgas would need to be reduced. In fact, EPA does not have authority to control aviation fuels.”

The EPA, she notes, is responsible for determining which chemical or physical properties of a fuel or fuel additive endangers the public health. But only the FAA has the authority to regulate which fuels aircraft may burn. “[H]ence,” Oge continued, “the EPA is coordinating closely with FAA as we evaluate emissions of lead from piston-engine aircraft.”

“Finding a safe, viable alternative that works all the way from the refining process to aircraft operation remains an enormous challenge,” said Eric R. Byer, NATA’s vice president of government & industry affairs. “Two decades of research has failed to identify a simple ‘drop-in’ solution. Thus, the coalition is now working to establish a process for evaluating fuels from a production, distribution, economic, operational, and environmental standpoint.”

Finally, the EPA assured the coalition that it recognizes the value of general aviation, especially piston-powered general aviation, to the nation and the national economy.

”EPA recognizes the value of piston-engine general aviation throughout the United States and specifically in remote regions,” wrote Ms. Oge. “Any EPA action to require piston-engine aircraft to reduce emissions of lead in the future will involve a thorough public process of identifying options and will consider safety, economic impacts and other impacts. The EPA is committed to working with these stakeholders to keep piston-engine aircraft flying in an environmentally acceptable and safe manner throughout the United States.”

“The General Aviation Avgas Coalition and the EPA have worked closely to understand the issues involved in finding a solution ever since it issued its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking earlier this year,” concluded Byer. “We look forward to continuing our work with the EPA.”