The FAA has notified officials in California’s Santa Clara County that it is informally investigating their decision to ban 100LL aviation gasoline at Reid-Hillview Airport and San Martin Airport. In a December 22 letter, the agency noted it had received multiple complaints from airport tenants, operations, and industry representatives alleging the bans violate airport grant assurances.
“As a result of these complaints, the FAA is commencing an informal investigation under 14 CFR Part 13,” the FAA said, directing the county to respond within 20 days of the notice. The response deadline was shorter than the typically 30-day timeframe, but the agency said it may shorten that period “if it finds the circumstances required expedited handling of a particular case.”
In this case, the FAA said expedited handling is necessary because the ban takes effect December 31. “Further, the County is apparently refusing to offer long-term leases for all tenants at Reid-Hillview airport whose leases will expire on Dec. 31, 2021, including the fixed base operators (FBOs) who provide aviation fuel,” the agency said.
The FAA added that it remains committed to a lead-free future and sustainability. “However, in the interim, all parties must adhere to grant assurances. Therefore, the FAA strongly recommends that the County take action to suspend the effective date of its ban on leaded gas at the County-owned airports until this matter can be resolved,” the agency said.
A number of aviation organizations, highlighting the letter, reiterated that “the general aviation industry is strongly committed to an unleaded future, but through a smart and safe transition” and said a “reckless and hurried ban could cause risks of misfuelling and potential engine failure in aircraft with the wrong fuel.”