Leaders of the “industry/government EAGLE initiative” publicly released the group’s June 23 “Joint Industry/FAA Statement” to stakeholders and interested parties this morning. EAGLE (Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions) reported that stakeholders included “a wide range of more than 100 aviation associations, aircraft and fuel manufacturers, federal and local government bodies, airport officials, pilot groups, environmental organizations, and other related constituents.”
The EAGLE objective is defined as “bringing all parties together to discuss and rally around the shared goal of an unleaded aviation future.” The update reported that the group has made progress in several of its priority areas, such as fuel testing, evaluation, authorization, research, development and implementation, as well as “regulatory and policy activities.”
Mark Baker, president and CEO of AOPA, and EAGLE co-chair, reiterated that, while eliminating lead from aviation fuel remains “the biggest opportunity we have in general aviation … it’s also vital that 100LL be available for those aircraft that require the fuel to operate safely during a smart transition. While we are working together to remove all lead from aviation fuel, this needs to be done smartly and safely.”
Also an EAGLE co-chair, Lirio Liu, the FAA’s executive director of Aircraft Certification Service, said, “It is going to take a sustained level of commitment to tackle the highly complex set of issues at play here. The spirit of partnership that is key to EAGLE’s success was evident during our discussions today, and I am excited to be a part of it.” Liu, a 31-year FAA employee, was appointed to her current role in April, succeeding Earl Lawrence, who subsequently left the FAA this month to become chief compliance and quality officer at autonomous-flight-tech company XWing.
While the group reported it has “addressed a number of potential unleaded fuel candidates,” EAGLE leadership and specifically the FAA have faced pushback for lack of progress on the Supplemental Type Certification (STC) process for G100UL, a potential drop-in replacement fuel developed by General Aviation Modifications Inc. (GAMI). George Braly, GAMI founder, has been vocal in his displeasure over FAA inaction on the pending STC, which would effectively constitute a virtually fleetwide approval for all GA aircraft.
But some stakeholders in the debate have questioned whether the STC process is the prudent and appropriate process for such a sweeping approval.