In response to community concerns over lead exposure from piston aircraft, the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (KBJC) in Broomfield, Colorado, has announced ambitious plans to transition to unleaded fuel three years ahead of the FAA’s deadline.
In unveiling its intent, KBJC said it is already in the process of transitioning to UL94 unleaded aviation gasoline with a completion goal of fall2024. Additionally, as 100UL becomes more widely available, KBJC said it will “proactively and fully” transition to 100UL in the next two to three years—well ahead of the FAA’s 2030 deadline.
“Our team’s commitment to innovative solutions and community collaboration is why the airport’s full transition will be well in advance of the FAA deadline,” said KBJC director Paul Anslow. “The aviation industry is working to scale production of 100UL for the larger market, and we feel confident that availability will rapidly increase while the price decreases. Our goal is to be the first airport in the state [of Colorado] that fully transitions to unleaded fuel.”
Like several airports across the country, KBJC has faced harsh criticism from nearby residents raising health concerns when it comes to lead poisoning from piston aircraft. Residents have also complained of the uptick in air traffic at KBJC. According to AirNav, as the third-busiest airport in Colorado, KBJC sees an average of 718 operations per day with 476 aircraft based on the field including single- and multiengine piston, jets, and helicopters. It has also been reported that the additional activity has locals fearing the lead situation is worsening.
According to a local news source, the town of Superior sent a letter to the FAA and Jefferson County Commissioners asking to make unleaded fuel available at KBJC.
“The Superior Town Board [of Trustees] is concerned about the continuing and irreversible damage that lead air pollution from avgas inflicts on our community—particularly to the health and development of exposed children,” the letter stated.
Other Colorado airports have also taken advantage of UL94. In May, Centennial Airport (KAPA), located southeast of Denver in Englewood, became the first in the state to offer unleaded aviation gas.
According to Anslow, KBJC’s purchase of a new fuel truck and storage tank for the unleaded fuel has charted the course for the transition to be complete by 2024.
“This transition is about balance and innovation,” said Jefferson County commissioner Tracy Kraft-Tharp. “Responsible airport development brings jobs and opportunity to the county’s residents and businesses while protecting the quality of life of our citizens.”