NBAA, Aviation Groups Call on the FAA to Mitigate Santa Clara County’s Rushed Decision to Ban 100LL Fuel
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and several other industry groups urged the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to take action regarding Santa Clara County’s rushed decision to ban the sale of 100LL as of Jan. 1, 2022.
In a letter to FAA administrator, Stephen Dickson, the organizations called on the agency to use its “aviation safety mandate to prohibit individual airports from interrupting the availability of 100LL and stifling the cooperative industry-government effort to safely transition the entire general aviation fleet to unleaded fuels. It is vital to public safety to mitigate [misfuelling] risks for pilots and passengers, and for the people and property on the ground during this transition.”
The FAA was reminded that engine failures from misfuellings often occur at critical phases of flight, such as on takeoff and climb out, and NTSB accident reports document the grim outcomes.
The letter pointed out that there are already misfuelling risks where visually similar airframes require different types of fuel (e.g. Cessna 421 and Cessna 441), and some popular piston aircraft models (e.g. Beechcraft Bonanzas) are fleets in which some aircraft have engines that can use unleaded fuel and other aircraft do not.
Furthermore, piston aircraft with high-compression engines consume 75% of the 100LL sold in the U.S.; many of these engines are not approved to use unleaded fuels currently available in the marketplace. Those that are approved to use a lower-octane unleaded formulation must still obtain a supplemental type certificate to legally use the fuel. This can create a dilemma and risk to pilots who land at an airport at which only a lower-octane fuel is available than what they require to safely fly.
The groups add, “We are committed to working with the FAA and industry stakeholders to effect a smart, managed nationwide transition to unleaded fuels in general aviation aircraft, one with safety at its core. Unlike automobiles, if an aircraft has engine trouble, it cannot simply pull over to the side of the road. The automobile industry took time to safely transition to unleaded fuels and was successful, and the aviation industry must do the same.”
NBAA senior vice president for Safety, Security, Sustainability and International Operations, Doug Carr, underscored the importance of preserving the availability of a range of avgas fuels at airports nationwide near term: “The general aviation industry has been working diligently for years to effect a safe transition of the entire GA fleet to unleaded fuels, and we are calling upon the FAA to prohibit a patchwork of local leaded-gas bans, which threaten to compromise safety and critical airport access during this transition.”
In addition to NBAA, the letter was signed by leaders of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and Helicopter Association International (HAI).
Read the full letter at https://download.aopa.org/advocacy/2021/Letter_to_Administrator%20Dickson_121321.pdf.