More than 110 aviation organizations say the Jan. 1, 2022, ban on 100LL at two California airports is an issue of “safety and discrimination.”
The May 6, 2022, letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen outlines the crucial need for 100LL fuel to be available at California’s Reid-Hillview of Santa Clara County Airport (KRHV) — and all public-use airports across the country — while the industry works to find a fleetwide unleaded fuel solution as quickly as possible.
“The need to remove lead from aviation fuel is something everyone is behind,” said Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) President Mark Baker. “What’s happening at Reid-Hillview Airport in California is having a chilling effect in moving forward with a safe and smart transition.”
The letter was signed by the more than 110 members of the Avgas Coalition, which represents the “many interests and perspectives” on the transition to unleaded fuel, general aviation advocates said.
“Members have pledged to work together and use the necessary resources to make safe unleaded avgas for all aircraft a reality,” advocates added.
General aviation leaders expressed safety concerns about the rushed decision by Santa Clara County officials to unilaterally prevent the sale of 100LL fuel at Reid-Hillview Airport and San Martin Airport (E16). The letter pointed out that many of the 200,000 aircraft in the general aviation piston fleet require higher-octane fuel to fly safely, and that misfuelling can cause detonation and engine malfunction resulting in catastrophic engine failure.
Not having 100LL available could lead to the grounding of nearly 30% of the piston fleet, which accounts for 70% of all general aviation fuel sales in the United States, the letter noted.
“General aviation piston aircraft that require higher-octane fuel are often performing life-saving emergency response, search and rescue, law enforcement, and other humanitarian missions. The lack of 100LL fuel at Reid-Hillview has already had a negative impact on humanitarian flights because aircraft are now unable to refuel at the airport.”
DOT and FAA leaders are in discussions with Santa Clara County officials to resolve longstanding noncompliance issues at Reid-Hillview, including measures that impact pilot and community safety.
The letter explained that the move to not offer fuel that had recently been available by an obligated airport “could pose a violation of federal grant obligations by creating an access restriction to that airport and unjust discrimination.”
What’s worse, the letter goes on to say, is that the ban on 100LL at KRHV and E16 could cause “a domino effect at airports across the nation.”
The letter also reminded government officials that the entire industry — including refiners, producers, distributors, engine manufacturers, pilots, airports, and FBOs — are working through the EAGLE initiative — Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions — to find a fleetwide unleaded replacement fuel no later than 2030.
You can read the full letter here.