An Environmental Protection Agency endangerment finding published on October 18 echoes the general aviation industry’s ongoing commitment to get lead out of avgas. Industry stakeholders are aware of the urgency and are already working on a safe and smart transition to a lead-free solution for the entire piston-engine fleet.
The EPA determined that “lead emissions to air from certain aircraft engines cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and welfare.”
“We expected this finding for some time now,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “In essence, it mirrors the GA industry's commitment to get lead out of avgas by 2030, if not sooner. However, it is as important to note what the finding does not mean—it does not mean that 100LL is going away before we have viable alternatives. It also does not mean that airports should stop offering 100LL, as it would adversely impact safety and hinder commerce. This action does not cause aircraft to be grounded or become prohibited from using 100LL.”
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA and the FAA must consult with each other on rulemaking requirements, to ensure they are developed in a manner that does not adversely impact aviation safety. The EPA is not proposing aircraft engine lead emission standards with this action.
A coalition of aviation stakeholder organizations issued a response to the final finding, reinforcing its support of the administration’s lead elimination efforts and restating that premature removal of 100LL would “compromise the safety, efficiency and economic viability of the U.S. airspace and airports, the general aviation industry and transportation infrastructure.”
The EPA has spent years studying the effects of leaded avgas emissions, originally publishing a proposed endangerment finding in October 2022 followed by a public hearing and comment period. The GA industry has been working alongside the EPA, with the same goal of eliminating lead from avgas. In February 2022 a broad array of aviation stakeholders—including GA leaders, fuel manufacturers, and the FAA—launched the Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions (EAGLE) initiative. The public-private partnership announced intentions to transition all piston-engine aircraft to lead-free avgas by 2030.
There are more than 220,000 GA aircraft in the United States—many of which require the higher-octane fuel to fly safely for search-and-rescue operations, medevac, agricultural support, and flight training. The GA industry remains determined to remove lead from the piston-engine fleet and is working aggressively to ensure a viable solution is available by the 2030 deadline. In the meantime, airports must keep 100LL available for pilots must to able to fly safely.