May 18, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
A $2 million FAA budget request for research into an alternative to leaded avgas is an “absolutely critical part of the process” of switching the general aviation fleet to a lead-free fuel. That’s the message leaders of five GA associations sent in a letter urging members of a House committee to support the funding.
The May 17 letter from the presidents of the GA associations urged members on the Appropriations Committee’s transportation subcommittee to support the funding proposal in the FAA’s fiscal 2012 budget. The funds would support research on the safety of different avgas formulations and development of airworthiness standards for engine modifications at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in New Jersey.
“This is an absolutely critical part of the process to identify and transition the general aviation piston fleet to a new unleaded avgas. In addition, this FAA activity is needed to ensure technical and safety cooperation with EPA as it pursues regulatory actions to address lead emissions from general aviation under the Clean Air Act,” said the letter, signed by AOPA President Craig Fuller and association presidents Rod Hightower (Experimental Aircraft Association), Pete Bunce (General Aviation Manufacturers Association), Ed Bolen (National Business Aviation Association), and James Coyne (National Air Transportation Association). All are members of the GA Avgas Coalition.
The funding begins “a complex transition of the GA piston fleet to an unleaded fuel,” the letter said. It emphasized that support from the committee would ensure that the transition effectively balances environmental improvements with aviation safety, technical challenges, and economic impacts.
“We were successful in getting a provision into the House-passed FAA reauthorization bill that would authorize the FAA to continue research and development activities of an unleaded aviation fuel and safe transition for the fleet of piston engine aircraft,” said AOPA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Lorraine Howerton. “Now the funding is needed to continue these activities and keep the momentum going in our efforts to transition to a new unleaded avgas.”
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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