Federal Funding Could Speed Development of Unleaded Aviation Fuel

Recent legislation signed by President Biden includes funds for fuel testing and evaluation.

Under new legislation, federal funding could help drive development of unleaded aviation fuel. [Courtesy: Shutterstock]

There is something in the federal budget for general aviation. Comprehensive legislation that President Biden signed last week supports industry and government efforts to shift general aviation to unleaded fuel by 2030 by including $10 million for additional unleaded fuel testing and evaluation.

FLYING has followed and reported on the movement toward development and adoption of unleaded avgas for general aviation aircraft since 2010, when the Environmental Protection Agency published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking against the use of leaded fuel in piston engines.

While the FAA appeared to have received extra time for proper testing on fuels, we reported in late 2021 and early 2022 that two California airports had banned 100LL and others could follow.

Last February members of the aviation and petroleum industries and the FAA began a program called Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions, or EAGLE, aimed at determining how the U.S. can safely eliminate leaded aviation fuel by the end of 2030 without harming the safety and operation of the existing piston-engine fleet.

Under the new legislation, funds allocated by Congress will support the EAGLE partnership and could be used to expedite the testing of potential unleaded aviation fuels. The funds could also be used for demonstration programs for unleaded fuels that have been approved through an FAA type certificate or supplemental type certificate (STC). 

General Aviation Modifications, Inc., known as GAMI, received an STC for its G100UL fuel in September. Swift Fuels expects to receive STC authorization of its 100R unleaded higher-octane fuel in 2023.  

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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