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The National Academies

ACRP 03-73 [Pending]

Airport Guide for Transitioning to Unleaded Aviation Gasoline

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Contract Time: 12 months
Staff Responsibility: Joseph D. Navarrete

BACKGROUND

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a proposed determination that emissions of lead from aircraft that operate on leaded fuel cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and welfare. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the aviation industry have set a goal and made a commitment to eliminate the use of leaded aviation gasoline (AvGas) by the end of 2030 without adversely affecting the safe and efficient operation of the existing piston-engine fleet. Achieving this goal will require airports to play a significant role, namely, taking steps to accommodate and offer unleaded AvGas while maintaining 100-octaine low-lead (100LL) availability.

In early 2022, a government-industry partnership named Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions (EAGLE) was formed with a broad range of activities, including developing fuel infrastructure and access viability; supporting research, development, and innovation; evaluating and authorizing safe fuels; and establishing necessary policies. To complement the broad scope of the EAGLE initiative, a more focused research effort is also needed to help individual airports transition to unleaded AvGas in a manner that is safe, efficient, and cost-effective and that does not disrupt piston-engine activity.

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this research is to produce a primer, guide, tools, and resources to help airports conduct a safe and efficient transition to unleaded AvGas while maintaining continuity of service.

The primer should be a 10- to 15-page summary to help airport industry practitioners understand the current state of the industry. It should address, at a minimum:

  • Unleaded AvGas currently available and under development;
  • Anticipated schedule for phase out of leaded AvGas and replacement unleaded AvGas availability;
  • Number of U.S. airports currently offering unleaded AvGas;
  • Overview of peer-reviewed public health findings on the topic of leaded AvGas;
  • Federal, state, local, and tribal regulatory and policy trends;
  • Operational safety and need for 100LL continuity through 2030;
  • Challenges and opportunities for transitioning to unleaded AvGas; and
  • Current funding and incentives for providing unleaded AvGas.

The guide should help individual airports develop a step-by-step framework for transitioning to unleaded AvGas given their unique conditions. The guide should address, at a minimum, the following:

  • Types of AvGas to offer;
  • Mitigating measures to reduce ambient lead concentrations including, at a minimum:
    • Safe storage, handling, and labeling procedures,
    • Engine runup considerations,
    • Recommended practices for disposal of sumped AvGas, and
    • Operational safety (e.g., minimizing aircraft misfueling incidents);
  • Collaborating with airport stakeholders (e.g., tenants, fixed base operators, fuelers) and external stakeholders throughout the transition;
  • Direct and indirect cost considerations for the transition and potential funding sources;
  • Training and operational procedures for fuel handlers and airport users;
  • Communicating fuel availability during the transition; and
  • Taking advantage of current industry information-sharing resources and opportunities (e.g., EAGLE, Airports Council International-North America Centerlines Connect, American Association of Airport Executives Hub and regional chapter outlets, and National Air Transport Association).

The tools should be scalable and easy to use (e.g., decision trees, flowcharts, checklists) and offer supplemental assistance in developing a transition framework that incorporates an airport’s unique characteristics (e.g., existing tank/fueling system and ownership/leasing structure, site constraints, airport governance, funding, fleet mix, activity).

The resources should include, at a minimum:

  • Representative case studies, including lessons learned, of airports in various stages of transition to unleaded AvGas; and
  • List of existing industry opportunities and resources (e.g., EAGLE, EPA, FAA).

RESEARCH PLAN

The research plan should include, at a minimum, the following interim deliverables:

  • Research coordination plan with FAA, EPA, and the GA industry to take advantage of related ongoing initiatives and eliminate duplication of effort;
  • Case study plan (including rationale and methodology for selecting subject airports, conduct, and reporting results);
  • Annotated primer outline; and
  • Interim report documenting the research effort and results of the project to date, including annotated literature review, list of resources, draft primer, and recommended next steps.

The research plan should also include, at a minimum, the following checkpoints with the ACRP project panel: (1) kick-off web meeting to be held within 1 month of notice to proceed, (2) web meeting to approve the research coordination plan and case study plan, and (3) face-to-face interim report review meeting.

The final deliverables will include: 

  • Primer;
  • Guide;
  • Tools and resources;
  • Final report documenting the entire research effort and results;
  • Technical memo titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”. 
  • Summary of Key Findings; and
  • Further Recommended Research Memo.

 

STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP.  The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

 

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