Committee to advise on avgas transition

February 3, 2011

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt has signed a charter establishing an aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) to advise the agency on the move toward an unleaded fuel.

The ARC will be a joint government/industry committee tasked with identifying key issues relating to, and providing recommendations for, the development and deployment of an unleaded avgas. The move comes in response to a request by the General Aviation (GA) Avgas Coalition, which includes AOPA, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), and the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA).

“This is a much needed step in the process that will ultimately determine how the aviation industry reaches an unleaded fuel solution,” said Rob Hackman, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs and liaison to the GA Avgas Coalition. “While the move toward an unleaded aviation fuel has been spurred by an Environmental Protection Agency action, it is the FAA that must approve new fuels, ensuring they provide adequate safety.

“Essentially, while the EPA can regulate what comes out of the tail pipe, the FAA has to regulate what goes in the fill pipe.”

In the charter creating the committee, the FAA recognized the significance of the issue, both to the aviation industry and to the larger economy. “Various elements of the General Aviation (GA) community have voiced their concerns with the potential consequences of a disruption of the supply of lead-containing avgas,” reads the document. “This would have significant economic consequences that would impact a large number of people.

“In July 2010, the FAA was approached by the GA Coalition to take a leadership role in the industry efforts to develop and deploy an unleaded avgas,” the charter continues. “This Unleaded Avgas Transition ARC charter is being established in response to this request.”

Unlike other ARCs which suggest regulatory language to the FAA as it considers new rules, the Avgas Transition ARC will help the FAA and industry design the process by which potential solutions will be approved for use in aircraft and identify tasks necessary to support a transition to an unleaded avgas. The ARC will be working on a tight timeline. The charter is valid for six months, with an option for the FAA sponsor, the manager of the Engine and Propeller Directorate, to extend the charter for an additional six months.

The committee is tasked with several priorities:

  • Investigate, prioritize, and summarize the current issues relating to the transition to an unleaded avgas;
  • Consider numerous factors relating to unleaded avgas when performing this activity;
  • Identify the key issues and recommend the tasks necessary to investigate and resolve these issues
  • Upon completion of this study, provide recommendations for collaborative industry-government initiatives to facilitate the development and deployment of an unleaded avgas with the least impact on the existing piston-engine aircraft fleet
  • Provide reports with written recommendations to the Director of the Aircraft Certification Service, as appropriate.

“The avgas transition rulemaking committee is a vital early step in the journey toward an unleaded future,” concluded Hackman. “Its work will provide the information needed for an orderly transition.”