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Henry Waxman letter urges FAA to expand fuel options

October 26, 2012, 03:13 pm

California Democrat Representative Henry Waxman recently sent a letter to Michael Huerta, acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, urging the FAA to expand on unleaded fuels in order to reduce toxic emissions, especially in airports that are located near residential areas.

The FAA has put forth, that, along with help from the Environmental Protection Agency, it will develop a replacement for leaded fuel by 2018. The only catch is that it could take as long as a decade to fully implement the fuel into aircraft.

“General aviation fuel now accounts for half of the lead emissions in the United States,” Waxman wrote in the October 23 letter. “It is a major concern for residents living near the Santa Monica Airport. The FAA says it has a plan for a new fuel to be available in a decade or so, but there are unleaded alternatives available now for the vast majority of small aircraft."

Waxman added that the FAA needs to do more to promote unleaded fuel use, saying it needs to be out today. Given the serious harms to human health that lead causes, alternatives need to be expanded on, as the time frame for their development is too long.

Federal Aviation Administration announced the formation of a new Fuels Program Office earlier this year, after members of the General Aviation Avgas Coalition wrote the administration a letter urging more funding for an unleaded avgas program.

The FAA's new office will provide technical expertise and strategic direction in planning, managing and coordinating activities related to fuel usage in aircraft. The office is currently looking to generate more data and implement fleet-wide certification and commercial specific fuel requirements.

"The FAA's direct involvement and participation in this process is critical to ensuring a fleet-wide transition to an unleaded avgas that will maintain consumer confidence and ensure the least impact on the existing fleet," read a conjoined statement from heads the General Aviation Avgas Coalition, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, National Air Transportation Association and National Business Aviation Association. "The establishment of the new Fuels Program Office will ensure an efficient use of both government and industry resources and will provide a more comprehensive pathway and timeline to an unleaded fuel."

Those planning their own future in the general aviation should look into pilot life insurance.

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