More than 170 participants gathered this week for the first stakeholders meeting of the FAA’s Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions (EAGLE) initiative. The goal of the two-day conference, which was attended by representatives from aviation associations, aircraft and engine manufacturers, fuel distributors, the FAA and EPA, was to begin laying the framework for “the safe and smart transition to an unleaded future for the entire general aviation fleet.” Launched last February, EAGLE’s objective is to eliminate the use of leaded aviation fuel by the end of 2030 without adversely affecting the piston aircraft fleet.
As previously reported by AVweb, EAGLE activities are based around four “pillars of action” including development of the unleaded aviation fuel infrastructure, fuel research and development, testing and evaluation of unleaded fuels and establishing necessary regulatory and safety policies. In a media briefing held after the stakeholders meeting, FAA Aircraft Certification Service executive director Earl Lawrence emphasized that the path to a 100-octane unleaded aviation fuel approved for fleet-wide use is complicated, particularly since a regulatory standard for unleaded avgas has yet to be adopted.
“So going to zero, from a legal standpoint, there’s not a direct replacement,” Lawrence said. “So now, we have to do the studies that say, ‘Okay, legally it’s not a direct replacement, but will the engine run, will the airframe handle it, will the systems handle it?’”
Lawrence noted that there are several candidate fuels currently being considered. He reiterated previous FAA statements that EAGLE will make use of testing protocols established under its Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative (PAFI), as well as taking advantage of knowledge and data gathered since PAFI was launched in 2013. Work under each EAGLE pillar is ongoing, with the next general stakeholder meeting scheduled for June.