Future fuels, airworthiness hot topics at AirVenture

August 6, 2009

Talk about the future of leaded avgas, and you’ll have a captive audience of pilots. That was the case last week during an EAA-facilitated fuels panel discussion in Oshkosh, Wis. Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, FAA, and Coordinating Research Council spoke to a packed pavilion of 150 pilots.

The panelists discussed the EPA’s recent call for information about the use of leaded avgas in general aviation aircraft. An EPA representative said that it is possible that an “endangerment” finding could be made.

Pilots in the audience asked about a pending transition to an unleaded fuel and inquired about how quickly a transition might take place. In a meeting after the panel, AOPA met with other associations and industry representatives to discuss the move to unleaded fuel.

AOPA and EAA are members of a coalition that GAMA formed to work on a plan for transitioning to an unleaded fuel. The groups will work with the EPA on a transition plan that impacts the industry as little as possible.

AOPA also discussed another looming threat to the GA industry: maintaining an aging aircraft fleet. In meetings with EAA and the FAA’s Small Airplane Directorate, AOPA talked about educational outreach efforts to the pilot community. AOPA and the FAA had worked closely together to create a free online course, Aging Aircraft , that describes some best practices for caring for an older aircraft.

“AOPA and EAA are able to better penetrate the pilot population with educational messages,” said Leisha Bell, AOPA director of aircraft and environmental issues. “These meetings with the FAA will help both of our organizations reach pilots with pertinent information they need to know to keep their aircraft airworthy.”

Future collaborative meetings among the groups are planned for AOPA Aviation Summit in Tampa, Fla., Nov. 5 through 7.