Long Beach could use incentives to phase out leaded aviation fuel at airport faster • Long Beach Post News

Leaded fuel is used in small piston-engined aircraft like Cessnas and Pipers and its exhaust has been linked to children living near airports having high levels of lead in their blood, which can cause various health problems. health, including damage to the brain or nervous system and developmental problems. problems.

The use of leaded fuel was banned in vehicles in the early 1990s, but is still permitted in small aircraft as it helps prevent in-flight problems like sudden engine failure and knocking. Large commercial aircraft do not use leaded fuel.

Although there is public-private pressure to end its use by 2030, some cities have turned to incentives to entice pilots to switch to unleaded fuels before they are phased out. Councilman Rex Richardson on Tuesday asked the city to consider options that could help pilots leaving Long Beach make the switch.

“I love our airport, it’s a good airport, but it’s something we need to proactively address,” Richardson said of the use of leaded fuel.

A 2014 settlement with 30 fuel suppliers, including two at Long Beach Airport, forced them to begin transitioning to safer alternatives for aviation fuel. Long Beach has been identified as one of the nation’s top polluters in the state by the Environmental Protection Agency

The airport sits in the middle of several neighborhoods in East Long Beach, Lakewood, Signal Hill and California Heights, and potentially affected areas include several schools.

Lori Shepler, who has two children who attend Carver Elementary School, said it’s “almost criminal” that leaded gasoline has been allowed to be used for so long.

“I think it should be outright banned,” Shepler said.

Long Beach could look to other cities for ideas on how to speed up the transition locally.

Earlier this year, Van Nuys Airport announced it would cut unleaded fuel by 11 cents per gallon by waiving the fee.

But incentives are only part of the problem. The switch from leaded to unleaded fuel could also require new storage tanks and other infrastructure at the airport. Some aircraft may need to be modified to use unleaded fuel. Producing unleaded aviation fuel on a large scale and having it certified by federal agencies is also an obstacle.

Because Long Beach does not have the authority to regulate the type of fuel used at the airport, it can only offer incentives to change while federal regulators act. The EPA and the Federal Aviation Administration have signaled that they may issue a ruling on the future of leaded aviation fuel sometime next year.

Leaded aviation fuel puts neighborhoods near airport at risk, while FAA says alternative could still be years away

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