A new initiative that lays out a plan to transition piston-engine aircraft to lead-free aviation fuels by the end of 2030 has been revealed by FAA officials and the aviation industry.
The Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions (EAGLE) initiative calls for an industry and government partnership “to expand and accelerate the actions and policies necessary for a viable high-octane unleaded replacement for the current 100 octane low-lead aviation gasoline (100LL), without compromising the existing U.S. transportation infrastructure system, aviation safety, and the economic and broader public benefits of general aviation.”
The initiative has four key pillars — Business Infrastructure, Research and Development, Unleaded Fuel Testing and Qualification, and Regulatory and Policy.
The industry will be responsible for the first two pillars, while the FAA will be responsible for the last two, said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.
A March 16, 2022 symposium will define a work plan for the initiative, he added.
“This is a safe and practical path to a lead-free aviation system,” Dickson said. “We look forward to starting this new partnership with aviation stakeholders to achieve this important goal.”
The FAA administrator also promised the initiative’s efforts would be transparent to pilots.
“We want to ensure pilots that they will be informed about the group’s progress,” he said. “We want to get every member of the general aviation community involved in this effort.”
Groups committed to the EAGLE initiative include the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), American Petroleum Institute (API), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Helicopter Association International (HAI), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).
“We are proud to be a part of this pioneering initiative to chart a course for a future free of leaded fuels,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “The EAGLE initiative is a very important step in ensuring the sustainability, safety, and security of aviation in the years to come.”
“The future of light general aviation depends on moving away from leaded fuels. To accomplish this imperative, it is important to note that our industry, as well as the industry providing our avgas, are united in partnering with the FAA to advance a sustainable future. The EAGLE public-private partnership will ensure coordination of a safe and reliable transition to an unleaded future state for piston-engine aircraft. GAMA’s manufacturing and maintenance companies look forward to working with the FAA, industry colleagues and other stakeholders to carry out this challenging and ambitious initiative. EAGLE will be the enabler for meeting our environment goals while keeping aviation safety, as well as the broader economic and public benefits provided by general aviation, at the forefront,” said Pete Bunce, GAMA president and CEO.
“While the industry has a shared vision of a lead-free aviation future, the transition must be done in a smart and safe way, and in a manner that works for the entire general aviation fleet,” said Mark Baker, president and CEO of AOPA. “Joining together in a broad coalition to reinforce our commitment, and outlining the plan to get there, is a very positive step forward. We look forward to making good progress under the EAGLE banner.”
“Securing a lead-free future for aviation fuel is a formidable challenge, but the aviation community has faced and met previous challenges with ingenuity and imagination,” said Jack J. Pelton, CEO and chairman of the board of the EAA. “Our goal is to solve the complex issues surrounding lead-free aviation fuels with innovations that ensure safety, as well as reliability, marketplace availability, and continue to provide the countless benefits of general and recreational aviation to our nation and the world.”