GA Groups Appeal To FAA Administrator To Block Ban On 100LL Fuel


A consortium of five aviation advocacy groups has sent a letter to FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson urging the agency to “take action” on what the associations characterize as “Santa Clara [California] County’s rushed decision to ban the sale of 100LL as of January 1, 2022.”

The letter states, in part, that the FAA should turn to 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.” The letter further cites the risk of misfuelling, calling the mandate to mitigate such risk “vital to public safety … for pilots and passengers, and for the people and property on the ground during this transition.”

The letter was signed by leaders of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, National Business Aviation Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, National Air Transportation Association, and Helicopter Association International.

To date, unleaded fuels remain uncertified for many aircraft with high-compression engines. According to the letter, such aircraft burn 75 percent of the 100LL fuel currently sold in the U.S. Many of these engines are not approved to use unleaded fuels currently available in the marketplace, said the associations. “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,” according to a statement released today (Dec. 14).

“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,” said the groups. “The automobile industry took time to safely transition to unleaded fuels and was successful, and the aviation industry must do the same.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. The Goonvenor of The People’s State of California is tripling down on eco-bleep coercion now that he survived a recall effort.

    Never mind need to emphasize protection of individuals against violence – noting recent problem with ‘protests’ in SF.

    More motivation for people to bail out of CA, except fertile females have to choose destination state carefully given TX’s coercion about abortions.


    • You obviously don’t know what you are talking about, and apparently didn’t even read the article.

      The State of California has nothing to do with this story, nor does the governor. This is about one county with some opportunistic county supervisors, who are hoping to redevelop a large GA airport, and are using lead as the excuse to close it.

      Take your political BS somewhere else.

  2. Seems the only surprised groups are the associations who were responsible for this? I find it comical and a great business study example as how to destroy and industry and it’s just one simple term “ignorance”.

    these groups had like 30 years to fix this. an industry that never innovated but continued with rising costs. This is all self inflicted they did it to themselves, lazy, ignorant, stubborn, corrupt, failure to adapt, failure to listen to the government it goes on and on.

    The small GA air fields I see are already old empty reminders of what GA used to be similar to what you see with horse tracks and dog tracks.

    The letter was signed by leaders of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, National Business Aviation Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, National Air Transportation Association, and Helicopter Association International.
    (A letter was signed? These groups actually did something for General Aviation? )

    The damage is done already, those groups above have already allowed the industry to be decimated to nothing more than flight training and a couple doctors and lawyers who crash their planes each year.

    • Quit sugar coating your thoughts.
      It seems to me that previous articles on UL A/C fuel included that several European countries solved this issue some time ago and have been providing high octane unleaded avgas for several years. The above listed organizations should have simply copied those successes and brought them here to the US by taking the formulations and possibly paying a royalty and submitting them to the FAA and the oil companies. How hard should this be?

      • The UK has 100 octane auto fuel available at the local gas stations, I don’t know what measurement system they use and how that compares with North America but it is certainly much higher that what is available here.

        • UK 100 octane is essentially US 94 octane fuel. They don’t have higher octane pump fuels, they just use a different calculation method.

  3. If people keep using the law as a weapon without regard to the consequences, the consequences are going to get really ugly.

    Somewhere in Cali there’s some poor soul or souls that have aircraft in an airport that is under attack, their neighborhood’s rules are being changed to double the families allowed per lot, and the stores they usually shop in are closing because the government isn’t punishing shop lifters.

  4. This is just one more step in the long-running effort by Santa Clara County to close Reid-Hillview Airport, identical to the political efforts to close LA’s Santa Monica and those against many other airports around the country. The potential property value of the land on which these now “urbanized” airports sit is the core driver of all this, and revenue-seeking politicians allied with salivating developers gather a cloud of lesser alliances such as the noise-impacted residents, environmentalists beating their latest drum (leaded fuel, in this case), etc.

    The alphabet organizations naturally have to respond, but they really have little more sway over the politicians than we do as individuals. Complaints that they “aren’t doing enough” serve mostly just as expressions of futility.

    In this case, it is unclear if the FAA, even if they do decide to weigh in – something they almost certainly would prefer not to do – could actually mandate that the airport supply 100LL. They would have to justify intervention somehow, possibly by tying it to safety, although many airports supply no fuel at all, or if a vendor vs. airport management conflict exists, to some sort of commercial fairness doctrine or rule.

    • You said it with the first sentence. The real motivation is to close KRHV. Any legitimate environmental concern is dubious and ancillary to that objective. I grew up in the Bay Area. I started flying with my brother in the 1970’s when there was an airport in Fremont, which is now where the local dump located. Everything about the area has devolved. My childhood home sold in 2014 for over 50 times its original cost, no benefit to my family. Cities can’t afford to have an airport smack in the middle of prime real estate. I mean, they could if they wanted to, but they don’t is the point.

      • That may be true for RH but not for the rural South County A/P which is still out in a sparsely inhabited area. The issue is they are both in the same county so there has to be some suggestion of fairness and equal treatment regardless of the differences in surroundings.

  5. Studies have shown that the level of lead in kid’s bloodstreams is the same, whether or not they live near an airport. If you’re worried about kid’s learning abilities, look no further than the World’s worst public school system. Schools, drugs and the disintegration of the family is what’s behind low test scores in CA.
    The agents behind airport closures should tell the truth, they want to develop the land.

  6. Same old story: Follow the money. City and county governments are always on the lookout to find new sources of revenue and most view the land under an airport as an untapped resource. There are always developers who are willing to bulldoze any property that they can then redevelop into subdivisions, shopping malls or high density housing (aka apartments). Since the average citizen in this country has probably never even seen a light plane up close, they have no sympathy for aircraft owner “rich guys” and their toys. Sadly, in the People’s Republic of California, this has become a frequent occurrence.

  7. I can’t feel too sorry for GA as a whole when it comes to 100LL. Leaded fuel was banned for use in new cars since the beginning of 1996 – that’s more than 25 years ago. Seriously? GA couldn’t find a solution to that problem in TWENTY FIVE YEARS? No one has any right to act surprised by this.

    • Ok fine no surprise a ban on leaded fuel, but did they replace it with something or just ban it? Lets say I have an aircraft I’m building and would like to put in a LS3, a proven economical unleaded engine, I would but I couldn’t fly very far because most airports don’t have mogas(non-ethanol), never have unleaded(ethanol), some have JetA which indeed is unleaded but requires re-engineing the entire GA fleet with quite expensive equipment that would ground most of the fleet because the engine cost more than the plane. Maybe, just maybe someone is getting paid for this boutique fuel that doesn’t want to let go of its profits to let something else in or there is alterior motives in CA to just shutting down this airport. There have been a lot of options over the years out there but actually offered. In 25 years I haven’t seen a single new fuel option at the airport, so there is nothing to go to – which is why no one does. Your Prius (I can tell) isn’t very useful without a charging network, now try to drive cross country in it after banning gas stations. I’m guessing you don’t fly much do ya Brian, cause you’re not very informed, maybe stick to things you understand rather than just parroting the same old environmentalist rhetoric, it doesn’t make you sound intelligent.

      • Brian likely has a plane that flies on mogas or unleaded and is hoping to increase his value when all the high performance planes are scrapped for lack of fuel. Supply and Demand you know.

        Reminds of a patient telling her doctor she can’t wait for all of the vaccinated sheeple to die of cancer and leave her with plenty of free stuff.

  8. Auto fuel providers didn’t have to deal with FAA bureaucracy in certifying their fuels.

    Imagine if auto owners had to get EVERY MAKE AND MODEL OF CAR AND ENGINE COMBINATION “APPROVED” BY A GOVERNMENT AGENCY–and the cost passed on to drivers and owners.

    It’s far easier to get a blanket approval for the “little guys”–and as for the manufacturers and owners that have engines that have piston engines that don’t meet the “blanket approval”–it’s a sad fact that it is easier to just hang a turbine on the airframe (because it will burn most anything) rather than fight with the FAA.

    Recall Chrysler Corporation, that outfitted 50 cars with turbine engines in the late 50s? It wasn’t that the turbines didn’t WORK–it was the fact that they were just too expensive for use in a car. Same thing for larger GA airplanes–a sad commentary that the cost of certifying a Jet-A burning Diesel makes high-performance piston engines obsolete. Actually, it would likely be cheaper and easier for the FAA to subsidize the conversion to Diesel engine certification than to fight this battle over certifying new fuels on all of these gasoline piston engines. At least we would be DONE with this, rather than destroying the GA high-performance aircraft market, and after 25 years, we STILL don’t have a resolution.

  9. The primary motivation may be for Santa Clara County to close Reid-Hillview Airport. However, tetra-ethyl lead is a neural toxin that causes lower IQ and anti-social behavior. It should never ever been used for cars or aircraft but someone had a patent on it and was making money on it. It is way past time that it is banned. GA aircraft probably do not cause a measurably problem on the ground around the airport but I feel bad for the FBO personnel that are fueling aircraft. It did made a difference in the IQ of the public when it was banned as a motor fuel.

    • Let’s say we tested those very people you are concerned about. If they have dangerous levels then you would have a point. However, if they do not, would it be at all possible you would change your mind? I don’t want to be rude to you, but it feels like to me that every time evidence shows that our little community is not the devil’s own foot soldiers on earth, the argument retreats behind yet another layer of defenses and continues the march against the high performance aircraft owners.

      I’m considering getting out, taking up paragliding or soaring, and joining the opposition. I will buy some property near GA airports and wait for my pay day.

  10. Follow the money. G/A just doesn’t have the economic vigor to ward-off the government’s shuttering of that industry. What the hay: industries are fleeing Cali in droves anyway. Even immigrant farm workers are abandoning the “Golden State” due to the drought problem. Think about it: after January 1, Cali will be one huge “no fly zone” for piston engine aircraft and the peripheral industries. Stick a fork in it. G/A is “done.”

  11. Who knows, if this attempted ban on 100LL goes nationwide Cessna might/could come out with a trainer version of the Caravan, or Beech bringing back the navy’s T34 trainer, the one with the pt6! Both would consume approximately 60gph of JetA.

  12. Does anyone remember why getting the lead out is such a big deal? It only took the automakers a couple years. I know, I was there.

    Or is the root of the problem traceable back to some outdated FAA rule or regulation. (as mentioned above, something about engine/airframe combinations)

    Just trying to cut through all the hype, understand what the real issue is.

  13. Fwiw, Stu Pid, William, et al.

    Good would LOVE to help us, but, as a group we have kicked him out of the schools, kicked him off of government buildings, disallowed public prayers, the list goes on. He’s still on our money but they’re working on that too.

  14. If anybody is trying to fight the RHV closure (on 100LL lead claims), I’d suggest you compare airport use of 100LL lead emissions with exhaust emissions (possibly also containing trace amounts of lead) from the nearby heavy Capitol Expressway traffic, and whether you can separate the two emission sources.

    Also note that RHV is part of the earthquake relief planning for San Jose, so one could argue that a replacement is needed before RHX is decommissioned.

    And those pesky FAA airport development grants.

  15. Please correct me if I am wrong but Tetraethyllead, both type b and type c, are not controlled substances nor is it against the law to posses them or nor is it against the law to use them off road. Racing fuels (gasoline) with TEL additives resulting in very high octane ratings are widely available at the retail level. Is it not reasonable to simply add TEL to non oxygenated gasoline on your own? Particularly if your equipment is experimental. Folks with very high compression engines are going to be forced to do something.