About 200 pilots and aviation enthusiasts gathered at Lancaster Airport in Lancaster, Pa., Nov. 6 to learn about issues affecting general aviation as well as participate in safety forums, tour the tower, and more.
AOPA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Melissa Rudinger spoke at the event, hosted by Aviation Safety Video Founder Bob Reed and the FAA Safety Team. Rudinger discussed the current state of GA, with flat flight hours and aircraft sales and a downturn in student starts. However, she pointed out that the GA industry will survive this trough just as it has previous lows.
One bright spot in the industry is the light sport and experimental aircraft markets, which are projected to grow 10 percent in the next decade, she said.
Rudinger also addressed the search for an avgas replacement, reassuring pilots that 100LL would be around for the foreseeable future and that the FAA must work with the Environmental Protection Agency and GA industry to move toward an unleaded fuel.
GA emissions are under scrutiny because of a 2006 petition from Friends of the Earth to the EPA, which asked the agency to study the health and environmental impacts of lead emissions from GA aircraft and to propose an emissions standard. GA contributes 50 percent of lead emissions annually, she said.
There is no “silver bullet” or “drop in” replacement for 100LL right now, Rudinger said, but she explained that as the industry searches for an alternative, AOPA is working to ensure that the new fuel meets GA operational, cost, and safety requirements.