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Getting the lead out

THE CHARGE TOWARD FLEETWIDE UNLEADED FUEL

A pilot refueling their airplane.Nobody will argue that it’s time to remove lead from all aviation fuels. It’s as important that this transition needs to be done in a way that works for the entire general aviation fleet – safely, economically, practically, and efficiently.

This site serves the home of the industry campaign, led by AOPA, to find an unleaded solution that works for all aviators, manufacturers, suppliers, and regulators, and benefits the environment. Bookmark and revisit this site for continued news, updates, developments, and success stories.

To contact AOPA directly regarding this issue, you can email us at: [email protected]

News/Updates

FAA APPROVES UNLEADED FUEL FOR PISTON FLEET

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GA, FAA LEADERS PROVIDE EAGLE UPDATE TO LIVELY, LARGE AIRVENTURE AUDIENCE

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INHOFE REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR SAFE, SMART TRANSITION TO UNLEADED FUEL; CITES AVGAS COALITION

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AVGAS COALITION EXPRESSES CONCERNS ABOUT UNSAFE ELIMINATION OF 100LL

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EAGLE COALITION ADVANCES UNLEADED FUEL FUTURE

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CALIFORNIA PILOT POINTS OUT LEAD FALLACIES

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GA LEADERS REINFORCE PLEDGE TO UNLEADED FUTURE

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GENERAL AVATION INDUSTRY LEADERS TO DISCUSS PUBLIC-PRIVATE INITIATIVE TOWARD LEAD-FREE FUTURE

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INDUSTRY RALLIES TO MAKE GA LEAD-FREE BY 2030

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AVGAS PRICING - CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT GOING UNLEADED

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AVIATION GROUPS CALL ON FAA TO MITIGATE CALIFORNIA COUNTY’S RUSHED DECISION TO BAN 100LL FUEL

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FAA INVESTIGATES AIRPORT SAFETY ISSUES IN SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

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AVIATION GROUPS CALL ON FAA TO MITIGATE CALIFORNIA COUNTY’S RUSHED DECISION TO BAN 100LL FUEL

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FUEL FOR ALL - UNLEADED AVGAS PROGRESS REPORT

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AOPA CONCERNED ABOUT CALIFORNIA FUEL MANDATES

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FAA approves hundreds more engines to use unleaded avgas

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Several Cessna models can now burn reduced-lead avgas

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GAMI expects ‘fleetwide’ approval for its unleaded avgas

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GA pilots help bring unleaded fuel to Reid-Hillview Airport

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GAMI receives unleaded avgas STC

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Join AOPA, GAMI, Avfuel for unleaded fuel webinar

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Aviation associations, FAA pledge continued support of development of unleaded avgas

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Avgas FAQs

Why is this issue so important?

This is the most pressing issue facing general aviation today because leaded fuels threaten our freedom to fly, and threaten to quell the economic impact of general aviation and the great humanitarian services it provides. Transitioning to an unleaded high-octane fuel that meets the need of the entire fleet is complex, but progress is being made. All of general aviation supports the smart and safe transition to unleaded fuel for all aircraft.

Is General Aviation really that important?

General aviation is a $247 billion industry that accounts for more than 1.2 million jobs in America. Currently, there are more than 200,000 aircraft in the GA fleet, compared to fewer than 6,000 among the airlines. This country is served by more than 5,000 public-use airports, supporting a tremendous number of jobs, compared to fewer than 500 airports served by the airlines. In addition, many of these GA aircraft and airports are important staging sites for emergency rescue and disaster relief, and proved invaluable in the nation’s fight against COVID.

Why is there lead in aviation fuel?

The majority of aircraft in the current general aviation fleet were designed to operate with fuel formulated to prevent damaging engine detonation that can result in a sudden engine failure. For decades, a lead-based additive has been the solution to get the high octane needed to prevent detonation. Finding a suitable substitute that doesn’t contain lead has been challenging. However, in recent years there has been progress and the industry is committed to finding an alternative. Even though avgas represents one-third of 1 percent of all gasoline sales in the United States, the aviation industry is fully behind a smart and safe transition to an unleaded future.

When will I be able to use unleaded fuel?

Some aircraft can already use the available 94-octane unleaded fuel from Swift Fuels and in some cases, unleaded automotive fuel of certain octane levels and without ethanol. However, it is the pilot’s and aircraft owner’s responsibility to know if their aircraft has been approved for these unleaded fuels (and, if so, have purchased the appropriate supplemental type certificate [STC]) and where they may be able to buy it. The industry is working on a smart transition toward an unleaded solution that will work for the entire GA fleet.

Can all aircraft use unleaded fuel?

Only low-compression engines can burn the unleaded fuels currently available. However, two-thirds of the total general aviation avgas consumption is by aircraft requiring 100-octane fuel. So far, the only fully approved way to achieve 100 octane is with a lead-based additive. Pilots are encouraged to check their pilot operating handbook to see which fuels are approved for their aircraft. The industry is working on a smart transition toward a 100UL solution that will work for the entire GA fleet.

How long will leaded fuel be available?

Total disappearance of 100LL without an available 100UL is a real threat to safety. Some airports have banned the sale of all leaded fuel since January 1, 2022, leaving many pilots and aircraft owners without an option that will safely work for their aircraft. The industry supports a smart transition toward a 100UL solution that will work for the entire general aviation fleet.

How do I know if my aircraft can take UL94 or if it needs the higher octane?

Pilots are encouraged to check their flight manual or pilot operating handbook (POH) to see which fuels are approved for their aircraft’s engine and fuel system. In addition, Swift Fuels has a web tool that lists which aircraft makes and models have been approved for its UL94.

How can I find the right unleaded fuel for my aircraft?

It is the responsibility of the pilot and aircraft owner to understand what fuel is available at their intended destination. Sources such as AOPA’s Airport Directory can help find what is available.

How will I know if my rented or borrowed airplane can be safely filled with unleaded fuel?

While the industry is working on a smart transition toward a 100UL solution that will work for the entire general aviation fleet, it’s the responsibility of the pilot and aircraft owners to ensure the proper fuel is being introduced to the specific aircraft’s engine and fuel system. Pilots are reminded to refer to their flight manual or pilot operating handbook (POH). While placards stating the correct fuel are required near the fuel caps, the POH is the best place to look.

Why can’t we use car gasoline in our airplanes?

Some aircraft have STCs to burn unleaded automotive fuel with octane levels as low as 87 that do not contain ethanol. However, those smaller, low-compression engines aren’t at risk of detonation during normal flight operations the way higher performing, higher compression engines are.

Other than being lead-free, are there other benefits to 100UL avgas?

Testing has shown that unleaded fuels can prevent spark plugs from becoming fouled and exhaust valves from sticking, and lengthen the intervals between oil changes and engine maintenance. These benefits can bring down the cost of total aircraft maintenance.

How much will unleaded avgas cost?

Cost is one element of the issue that is being discussed as formulations are being tested. The industry’s goal is that an unleaded fuel would not be significantly more expensive than 100LL. However, the most pressing need is to find a 100UL solution that will work for the entire general aviation fleet. Reports indicate that 100UL will carry a small cost increase, but that may be offset by lower maintenance costs.

Why is it taking so long to find an unleaded solution?

The effort to rid all avgas of lead dates back decades It’s a very complex matter involving issues of safety, performance, practicality, economics, and logistics. And, many public and private constituents have a hand in this transition. The general aviation industry is currently focused on a smart transition toward an unleaded solution that will work for the entire GA fleet. We all want lead out of avgas, but in a smart and safe way.

What is the process to bring an unleaded fuel to market that all GA aircraft can use? Are we close?

More than $40 million has been spent by the federal government over the past decade developing a process to test candidates fuels. This pathway, called the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI), is a joint effort by the FAA and the general aviation industry. New fuels continue to be tested through this process. In addition, some companies have chosen instead to develop supplement type certificates (STCs) for each combination of engine and airframe that uses their fuel. The FAA has issued a number of STCs for the use of unleaded fuels for low-compressions engines. However, no high-compression engines, which require 100-octane fuels, have received STCs as of the end of 2021.

How difficult is it getting a fuel approved and to market?

Bringing an unleaded fuel solution to the entire general aviation fleet is a challenging and complex task that involves much more than discovering the right formula in a lab. There are issues of refinement and production at a level to satisfy the fleet, real-world testing among an array of aircraft and engine types, certification, distribution to the thousands of general aviation airports across the country, and on-field storage. The general aviation industry is working hard to overcome all of these challenges in a safe and economical way.

Why do I need an STC to use the fuel?

The FAA requires a supplemental type certificate (STC) to be issued when an aircraft owner has “received FAA approval to modify an aeronautical product from its original design.” This far-reaching definition of modification includes the approval to use a fuel not specified for the original design or in the original flight manual or pilot operating handbook (POH).

My engine was originally approved to run on 80 octane. Do I need an STC to use 94UL?

Yes. The FAA requires a supplemental type certificate (STC) to be issued when an aircraft owner has “received FAA approval to modify an aeronautical product from its original design.” This far-reaching definition of modification includes the approval to use a fuel not specified for the original design or in the original aircraft flight manual or pilot operating handbook.

The majority of the fleet can use 94UL. Why not just make that the official fuel and move on?

The current general aviation fleet comprises more than 200,000 aircraft, and more than 75 percent of 100LL avgas is consumed by piston-engine aircraft requiring 100-octane fuel to run safely and legally. The industry supports a smart transition toward a 100UL solution that will work for the entire general aviation fleet.

Is there any benefit to the engine by using leaded fuel?

In many piston engines, lead in avgas prevents damaging detonation that can result in a sudden engine failure. For general aviation aircraft that need 100-octane fuel to prevent detonation, the only current option is 100LL. The industry fully supports a smart transition toward a 100UL solution that will work for the entire GA fleet.

The amount of lead emitted by GA airplanes is tiny. Why not fight the environmentalists and stick with 100LL?

The movement toward a lead-free society has considerable momentum. The general aviation industry supports a total lead-free future, but the transition needs to be done safely and smartly.

What can I do to help?

Stay informed and engaged, and make your voice heard by clicking on the Take Action tab to sign up for 100UL avgas updates, and be prepared to take action to help AOPA push for fleetwide access to 100UL avgas. Tell your airport manager and local elected officials that the important transition to unleaded fuel needs to be made smartly and safely.

What changes will I have to make to my engine to use 100UL avgas?

Those with 100UL formulations in development report that no modifications need to be made to engines. The focus is on a transition to 100UL that works for all aircraft in the current general aviation fleet without the need for engine modification.

Will there will be multiple 100UL manufacturers, or will one be able to corner the market and raise prices?

The general aviation industry will back any manufacturer(s) that can develop a 100UL formulation that works for the entire general aviation fleet.

AOPA Advocacy

The general aviation industry’s goal is FAA authorization for unleaded avgas that can replace 100LL for all aircraft in the GA fleet, with a transition that can be done effectively and efficiently, with no negative impact on safety. Several promising solutions are currently being evaluated. AOPA will continue to advocate for solutions that work for all, building a coalition of stakeholders that will engage in practical and forward-thinking measures toward this future.

Avgas Coalition

AOPA Avgas Coalition logo

AOPA is building a broad partnership of those who represent many facets of the transition to an unleaded avgas future. This coalition has a single-minded purpose of steering the GA industry to an unleaded future, and advocating for a smart and safe transition that works for the entire GA fleet.

The following organizations represent those that have pledged to work together and use the necessary resources to make unleaded avgas for all aircraft a reality. We encourage all GA-related groups to join the Avgas Coalition by clicking here.

  • Air Care Alliance
  • AirCorps Aviation
  • Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
  • Airport Farms LLC
  • Airworld LLC
  • Alaska Airmen’s Association
  • American Association of Airport Executives
  • American Bonanza Society
  • American Petroleum Institute
  • Army Aviation Heritage Foundation
  • Avenger Educators LLC
  • Avfuel
  • Barton Aviation
  • Blackhawk Flying Club (Ill.)
  • Boeing Field Tenants Association
  • Brookhaven-Lincoln County Airport
  • Brookway Aviation
  • Caldwell Flying Service (Texas)
  • Canadian Owners and Pilots Association
  • Cape Cod Aero Club
  • Cavanaugh Flight Museum
  • Chocks Away Aviation
  • Cincinnati Warbirds
  • Cirrus Owners & Pilots Association
  • Citation Jet Pilots Association
  • Classic Aviation LLC
  • Commemorative Air Force
  • Courtesy Aircraft Sales
  • DJM Aviation Services
  • Delaware Aviation Museum Foundation
  • Denver Flyers
  • Downwind Flying Club (Wash.)
  • Experimental Aircraft Association
  • Flight Czech
  • Florida Warbirds, LLC
  • Flying 20 Club, Inc. (Conn.)
  • Flying Texans And Mustangs Unlimited
  • Flying Z Ranch
  • Formation and Safety Team (FAST)
  • Fort Myers Flying Club
  • Freeflight Aviation (N.J.)
  • Friends of Boeing Field
  • Friends Of Sikorsky Airport (Conn.)
  • General Aviation Manufacturers Association
  • GAMI
  • Grumman Owners & Pilots Association
  • Hangar 6 Aviation
  • Hartford Brainard Airport Association, Inc.
  • Helicopter Association International
  • J&M Sales & Leasing
  • Jet Air, Inc.
  • Lanier Flight Center
  • Legacy Warbirds Inc.
  • Lewis Air Legends
  • Maine Aeronautics Association
  • Malibu M-Class Owners & Pilots Assoc.
  • Midcoast Aviation
  • Milco Flying Club (Wisc.)
  • Mile High Resources
  • Military Aviation Museum (Va.)
  • Minnesota Pilots Association
  • Moccasin Flying Club (Tenn.)
  • Montana Pilots Association
  • Museum of Flight
  • Museum of Flight Tri-States
  • N1708T Owners Association (Va.)
  • National Agricultural Aviation Association
  • National Air Transportation Association
  • National Business Aviation Association
  • National Warbird Operators Conference
  • Navy Flight Trainer LLC
  • New Bedford Pilots Association
  • New Hampshire Pilots Association
  • New Jersey Aviation Association
  • New Mexico Pilots Association
  • North American Trainer Association
  • Palm Springs Air Museum
  • Planes of Fame Air Museum
  • Planeview Aviation Services
  • Rag Wings/Radials Aircraft Leasing LLC
  • Redlands Airport Association (Calif. Pilots Assoc.)
  • Seaplane Adventures
  • Seaplane Pilots Association
  • Sky Helicopters
  • Smokehouse Pilots
  • SoCal Pilots
  • Solberg Airport (N.J.)
  • South Atlanta Helicopters
  • South Dakota Pilots Association
  • Southern Heritage Air Foundation
  • Southwest Ohio Flyers
  • Swift Fuels
  • TFC Flying Club (Conn.)
  • Taildragger Flyers, Inc.
  • Tango 28 Group
  • Texas Legislative General Aviation Caucus
  • Topflight Aviation, Inc.
  • Tradewind Aviation
  • Trojan Boys LLC
  • Trojan Phlyers
  • Twin City Cloud 7
  • U.S. House of Representatives (Mo. Sixth district)
  • Veterans Airlift Command
  • Warbirds, LLC
  • Warbird Adventures, Inc.
  • Warbird Operators Group
  • Washington Pilots Association
  • Washington Seaplane Pilots Association
  • Westminster Aerobats Flying Club
  • WingNuts Flying Circus
  • Witham Warbirds
  • Yankton Regional Aviation Association (S.D.)

Take Action

Are you ready to take action?

Click here to sign up for 100 UL avgas updates, and be prepared to take action to help AOPA push for fleetwide access to 100 UL avgas.