Several industry groups are protesting the decision by California’s Santa Clara County to ban the sale of 100LL aviation gasoline at two general aviation airports, starting on January 1. In its justification for the move, the county cited a study it sponsored in cooperation with the California Department of Public Health, Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch, indicating “that children proximate to Reid-Hillview Airport present with systematically higher [blood lead levels] net of other measured sources of lead exposure risk, child characteristics, and neighborhood conditions."
In a letter to FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson signed by the heads of AOPA, EAA, GAMA, HAI, NATA, and NBAA, the groups noted that the move will leave piston aircraft operators at Reid-Hillview Santa Clara County and San Martin airports with no fuel option approved for use in the entire piston GA fleet. That, said the letter, would significantly increase the risk of aircraft misfueling.
While the groups signaled their support for the eventual phasing out of leaded fuel, they urged the FAA to use its “aviation safety mandate to prohibit individual airports from interrupting the availability of 100LL and stifling the cooperative industry-government effort to safely transition the entire general aviation fleet to unleaded fuels.”
The letter explained that 75 percent of the 100LL sold in the U.S. is consumed by aircraft with high-compression piston engines, many of which aren't approved to use the unleaded avgas currently on the market. It added that those that are approved to use lower-octane unleaded fuel must still first obtain a supplemental type certificate to legally do so. That can cause problems for pilots landing at airports where the only option is a lower-octane fuel than what their aircraft requires to fly safely.