The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners has taken action to accelerate the transition away from leaded aviation fuel at Van Nuys Airport, as Signature Flight Support is poised to become the first fixed-base operator at VNY to offer unleaded piston-powered aircraft fuel.
The board voted unanimously to waive VNY's fuel delivery fee of 11 cents per gallon for any unleaded aviation fuel delivered from July 7 through April 2024, which is when the current fuel delivery permit agreement ends. The waiver of the fee will help reduce the cost of unleaded fuel at VNY, which is scheduled to become more widely available within a few weeks thanks to the recent purchase of a mobile fueller and modification of an existing fuel storage tank by Signature Flight Support. The Park VNY, which is dedicated exclusively for propeller aircraft and offers pilots self-fuelling, also purchased a storage tank for the use of unleaded aviation gasoline. This further increases the opportunities for pilots to switch to unleaded fuel.
"Leaded aviation fuel is a legacy pollutant whose time has come to be replaced with emerging fuel options that are more environmentally responsible and in line with Los Angeles World Airports' values to create a more sustainable aviation industry," says Beatrice Hsu, president of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners. "We thank Signature Flight Support for taking on an active role, and making significant investments, to help make unleaded fuel available to more pilots at VNY. Together, we are incentivising the faster adoption of this fuel and reducing lead emissions from piston-powered aircraft."
The Federal Aviation Administration has set a target to transition 100 percent of leaded aviation fuel to unleaded gas by 2030 for all piston-powered aircraft. For now, the decision to use unleaded fuel, which is a relatively new product for these aircraft, rests with fuel providers to secure the approval from the required federal agencies for a 100% drop-in replacement fuel and pilots who must pay for additional federal certifications and inspections before using the options currently available to the industry. Today's board action is designed to incentivise the voluntary transition to unleaded fuel by making the price more competitive with traditional 100 low-lead fuels.
Signature Flight Support, which will become the first fixed-base operator at VNY to offer unleaded fuel, acquired a dedicated fuel truck for the specialised aviation gasoline, in addition to adapting a fuel tank for dedicated storage.
"Signature is continually looking for ways to positively enhance aviation's impact on the environment and help our customers meet their sustainability goals. The introduction of unleaded avgas at Van Nuys Airport represents a major step forward for our piston-powered customers,” says Marty Kretchman, senior vice president of operations planning for Signature Aviation. “We recently introduced sustainable jet fuel (SAF) at VNY through our Signature Renew programme, with the result being our industry's most environmentally friendly fuel products available for all types of aircraft at Signature Van Nuys.”
There are approximately 400 piston-powered aircraft based at VNY. In 2021, approximately 330,000 gallons of leaded aviation fuel were sold at VNY. The airport estimates that up to 40,000 gallons of unleaded fuel could be sold at VNY each year until a universal replacement fuel becomes available. Doing so would remove about 168 pounds of lead emissions annually.
“The aviation industry is unanimously committed to converting completely to an unleaded aviation fuel for piston aircraft and is now working to implement legislative and regulatory actions that will permit a rationale transition to occur, and sooner than 2030,” said Curt Castagna, president of the Van Nuys Airport Tenant's Association. “With Signature Flight Support's investment, this demonstrates another public-private-sector commitment in real environmental sustainability."