General aviation association leaders expressed optimism about the industry finding a drop-in unleaded aviation fuel to replace 100LL during a session this morning at the Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo. Panel moderator John “Lites” Leenhouts, the outgoing president and CEO of Sun ’n Fun Fly-In Inc., said the lead issue is currently the greatest threat to general aviation, especially in light of an expected “endangerment finding” later this year by the EPA that could set a hard 2030 deadline to phase out 100LL.
GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce explained that the Eagle initiative launched earlier this year aims to bring together government and industry to research and test such a replacement, develop an approval process, and establish a distribution path for an ASTM-approved drop-in replacement by the end of this decade. “The timelines are a compromise between what is achievable and preserving 100LL until a true replacement can be found,” he said. “The fallback is 94-octane unleaded auto fuel, which would cover about 70 percent of the fleet.”
According to EAA president and CEO Jack Pelton, there is no appetite in Congress to save 100LL in the long term. “The EPA will not change course. We will have a deadline to remove lead, likely 2030,” he told attendees.
Marc Baker, president and CEO of AOPA, noted that 100LL’s days are likely numbered even without an EPA endangerment finding. “There’s only one plant worldwide that makes tetraethyl lead, and I don’t see it continuing to make this product beyond 2030,” he concluded.