Rep. Waxman Calls on FAA to Reduce Lead Emissions By Expanding Use of Unleaded Fuel

LOS ANGELES, CA — Today Rep. Henry A. Waxman sent a letter to Michael Huerta, Acting Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to encourage expanded use of unleaded fuels to reduce toxic lead emissions from general aviation...

This extended time-frame is simply too long, given the certain and serious harms to human health from lead exposure and the availability of alternatives to leaded fuels. Today, high octane unleaded fuels are already commercially available and can be used in the vast majority of piston engine aircraft. According to one recent study by the Aviation Fuel Club, an organization of sport aviators devoted to fuel issues, the FAA has approved Supplemental Type Certificates (STC) permitting the use of automotive gasoline, also known as “autogas” or “mogas,” in over 80% of piston aircraft now in operation.[3] The study also notes that autogas can be less expensive than leaded AvGas, and aircraft using autogas can burn half as much fuel per hour.

High octane unleaded auto and biodiesel fuels for piston engines have been safely and successfully used in Europe for many years, but adoption in the United States has been slow. Airports face significant barriers to offering fuel alternatives, which include lack of pilot education, uncertainty about liability coverage, and concerns about the supply of high octane unleaded fuels that are ethanol free.

While real, these barriers are not insurmountable, particularly if the FAA were to support the airports that are interested in expanding the use of unleaded fuel. Nor should such efforts take a decade or more before they produce environmental improvements, as appears to be likely for development of a replacement fuel.

It is essential for the FAA to develop and implement, in the near term, measures to facilitate the use of currently available unleaded fuel in general aviation. I urge you to engage airports, particularly those in densely populated areas, to resolve these obstacles and promote the broader use of available unleaded alternatives for piston aircraft. I look forward to hearing from you regarding the actions that you will take to pursue this goal.




Henry A. Waxman

Member of Congress

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