Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lead fuel warning signs to go up at Napa County Airport (KAPC), California

Signs warning of potential air pollution dangers of leaded fuel fumes from small airplanes will go up at Napa County Airport and 22 other California airports.

The move comes about because of a recent lawsuit settlement among the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health and 30 defendants that sell or distribute fuel at airports. Napa Jet Center, the aviation service provider at Napa County Airport, was among the defendants.

Each defendant must post three warning signs at least two feet by two feet in size at conspicuous locations, such as along roads. The signs will say people within one kilometer of the airports -  a little over a half-mile - can be exposed to lead, a chemical known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Caroline Cox of the Center for Environmental Health said one goal is to spur the aviation industry to make unleaded fuel available for propeller planes. Commercial aircraft use unleaded jet fuel.

“The intent is not to make people scared or panicked, but to give people information,” Cox said on Tuesday. “Really the bottom line like everything else is there’s a lot of politics involved. People in the aviation industry need to hear from all of us that they need to use a less polluting fuel. That’s what will inspire change.”

At issue is lead found in aviation gasoline – or avgas - for small piston-engine propeller aircraft. Avgas has raised health questions similar to those that surrounded automobile leaded gasoline phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1995.

Some small aircraft can use a high-octane, lead-free automotive gasoline called Mogas, but Mogas is not sold in California because of state fuel requirements concerning ethanol content and other factors, the settlement said.

“General aviation’s future for avgas is ultimately going to be some type of unleaded,” Napa Jet Center Chief Executive Officer Mark Willey said. “The industry knows it. It’s a difficult task, because the aircraft have to be able to fly safely. The engines have to be able to perform. That’s why there’s lead in there now.”

Willey said the signs required by the lawsuit settlement are an awareness issue. He pointed out that similar warning signs under California’s 1986 Proposition 65 can be seen at places ranging from grocery stores to gasoline stations.

“It’s an opportunity to look around and make the environment better,” Willey said on Tuesday.

Avgas used at the 23 airports has an octane rating of 100 and is “low lead,” according to the settlement. “Very low lead” avgas has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, but is not yet available commercially in California.

The settlement says that the airports will sell the airplane fuel with the lowest lead that’s available.

“That will really help,” Cox said. “That hopefully will be quicker than waiting for the switch to completely unleaded fuel.”

The Federal Aviation Administration has set a 2018 deadline to have a replacement, unleaded fuel on the market, Cox said. She expressed hope the agency sticks to the deadline.

What the Center for Environmental Health calls the one-kilometer lead “exposure zone” around Napa County Airport includes industrial and business development near the airport and wetlands in the Napa-Sonoma marshes. It does not include residential subdivisions.

Among the other defendants involved in the settlement are Sacramento Executive Airport, Hayward Executive Airport, Oakland International Airport, Palo Alto Airport and Santa Barbara Municipal Airport. 

Story and photo:  http://napavalleyregister.com

New Boeing South Carolina General Manager sounds off on unions and future plans

Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Tuesday, Boeing opened its doors for a behind the scenes look at its facility.

The company employs more than 6,000 people at its North Charleston sites, and every month, it pumps out three 787 Dreamliners and 10 middle and aft sections for the planes.

"Nobody would've thought we'd be building aircraft with this level of productivity and quality so early in the game,” Beverly Wyse, the incoming General Manager and Vice President of the SC site said.

Wyse is replacing Jack Jones who is retiring. At Boeing in Washington, she managed the 737 line, which produced a record 42 planes a month.

Boeing's goal in South Carolina is to be at seven Dreamliners a month and 14 sections.

Right now, it has a backlog of 1,017 Dreamliners, so if an airline ordered a plane today, they'd have to wait about eight years to pick it up.

"You bring up the one area that we have to keep working on which is ensuring that we're able to meet our customers' demands when they need the aircraft," Wyse said.

Boeing says the backlog isn't just a bad thing. It says it shows a high demand and stability in years to come.

"We're very comfortable where we stand with the 787,” Jack Jones said. “It's not going to go away and it's going to be around for a very long time.”

Unions have been a major talking point for Boeing recently. Tuesday, Wyse reestablished Boeing's position that they could play a factor in productivity.

"We don't believe that the unions are in the best interests of our teammates,” Wyse said. "Clearly we've seen unions work at some of our sites. It's not that it can't be done it's is that in their best interest."

Now, Boeing is working on its new painting facility by the airport so it doesn't have to fly planes out of state to Louisiana or California, just another way to speed up production. The next step is to begin work soon on its new 787-Max model of the Dreamliner.

It expects the Dreamliner model to be in service for 30 to 40 years.

Story, video and photo:  http://www.live5news.com

Transport Canada committed to mandatory wearing of life vests on float planes: Senior official says regulations are still a year or two away as department researchs which life-jackets would work best

Transport Canada remains committed to require life vests for float plane passengers almost four years after the federal transportation safety board investigating the death of six persons in a crash off Saturna Island made the recommendation, the department’s director-general of civil aviation says.

In an interview with The Vancouver Sun, Martin Eley defended the amount of time it is taking to mandate an industry-wide solution that has been adopted voluntarily for several years by some float plane operators along the B.C. coast.

“We’ve been actively working with industry to look at solutions ... what types of life-jackets that would be appropriate,” Eley said during a visit to Vancouver.

Two issues associated with mandatory life vests are the ability to get out of the airplane while wearing them and the ability to activate the vest and survive in the water.

“I believe we’re getting closer. I know we’re doing a lot of work. There are solutions out there and we’re keen to get to those as quickly as we can.”

Asked if regulations would be in place within one or two years, he said: “I’m hoping it’s certainly within that time frame. It’s not a question of procrastinating, but simply making sure we come up a solution that is both flexible ... and gives the right performance.”

When it comes to ordering better escape methods from float planes, Eley is less enthusiastic about regulatory action. Instead, Transport Canada supports industry improvements, such as pop-out windows and better door latches on de Havilland Beaver aircraft, and egress training for pilots.

“They’re certainly a good idea, but again there’s a challenge;, any solution doesn’t work for all aircraft. Obviously, a small single-engine Cessna 185 is very different from a twin-engine Otter. We’re encouraging those things, but it’s very hard to mandate when there isn’t a common solution.”

The safety board on March 17, 2011, recommended, in part, the mandatory wearing of life vests on sea planes after the Nov. 29, 2009, crash of a Seair Beaver that killed six passengers. The pilot and one passenger escaped with serious injuries, but might have perished had not two bumpers come off the sinking aircraft and served as lifebuoys until help arrived. Typically, life vests are stored folded in pockets under plane seats, where there is little or no chance that panicked passengers will grab them before they leave a plane that is filling fast with water.

Meanwhile, Transport Canada continues to resist the safety board’s recommendation for new regulations to reduce the risk of post-crash fires. In 2006, the safety board recommended Transport Canada address the issue of post-crash fires on planes under 5,700 kilograms, including requiring switches that could kill the electrical system and prevent leaking fuel from creating a deadly blaze.

Almost a decade later, the board continues to officially rate Transport Canada’s response as “unsatisfactory” — and the death toll continues.

On Aug. 16, 2013, a pilot and passenger survived the crash of an Air Nootka Beaver float plane on the Hesquiat Peninsula only to die in the ensuing fire. Four other passengers escaped with injuries.

On Oct. 27, 2011, a Northern Thunderbird Air Beechcraft King Air 100 crashed just short of Vancouver International Airport’s south runway after returning because of an oil leak. The pilot and co-pilot were badly burned and died from their injuries. The seven passengers escaped with injuries with the help of witnesses.

Eley said Canada prefers to work in concert with the U.S. on ways to reduce crashes, citing a July 2012 requirement for terrain awareness warning systems on commercial air taxi/commuter aircraft.

“We’re looking at prevention rather than survival of the crash,” he said. “There’s a wider benefit to preventing accidents.”

Transport Canada is not prepared to launch alone into the issue of solving post-crash fires on a variety of aircraft, most not made in Canada, even on a seemingly simple solution such as a battery kill switch, Eley continued.

“A kill switch has some benefits in that it cuts off the electrical system. What happens if you’re flying along and the kill switch operates so you lose all electrical power in the aircraft? It’s not just the benefits of introducing something, it’s the additional risks that you have.”

In the absence of industry-wide regulations, individual aircraft owners are discouraged from making such modifications on a voluntary basis because it can cost $12,000 to obtain the necessary engineering and Transport Canada approvals.

“Even if the particular piece works well, what is the effect on other systems on the aircraft?” Eley said. “Somebody has to do that work.”

Story and photo: http://www.vancouversun.com

Martin Eley, Director-General of Civil Aviation with Transport Canada, says his department is committed to requiring the wearing of life-jackets by people aboard floatplanes.

Three Arik Air staff arrested for siphoning fuel from aircraft

An Arik Air staff have been arrested at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, western Nigeria, siphoning fuel from an aircraft, Osita Chidoka, the Minister of Aviation said on Monday.

“In the continued bid to fight corruption and security breaches at the nation’s airport results are beginning to emerge my daily security report revealed the following:

“On 15th February, 2015, at about 0255hrs at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport,(MMIA), Lagos, the sustained security patrol and surveillance operations across the nation’s airports, by the aviation security staff, yielded a good result that led to the apprehension of the following three Arik staff namely; Blessing DUGBE, Samuel ASUQUO and Isaac AJAKAIYE siphoning jet A1 fuel from Arik airplane, registration number 5N-MID, into six(6) jerrycans for possible sales, at cheaper price to other airlines,” Chidoka said.

The theft, he said, threatens safety and security of airplanes.

“Considering the magnitude of this crime and the attendant consequences, the act is likely to portend to safety and security of Arik airplanes and other aircrafts parked at the MMIA apron, the Chief Security Officer(CSO), MMIA, Lagos, had been requested to ensure that the suspects are handed over to the airport police for adequate prosecution, to serve as a deterrent to others,” Chidoka said.

The three suspects have been handed over to the Crime Investigation Bureau(CIB), AVSEC MMIA for further action.

The minister said other Chief Security Officers and Heads of Aviation Security at the nation’s airports, had been alerted and directed to intensify patrol and surveillance operations at their areas of responsibilities.

Source:  http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com

British Columbia aircraft accidents and deaths reach ‘all-time low’: Three fatalities in 2014 is far below the five-year average of nine deaths

The number of aircraft accidents and fatalities has reached a record low in B.C. — one of the most challenging areas of the country for aviators.

The board recorded a total of 30 aircraft accidents in 2014, two of which resulted in three fatalities in B.C. That compares with a five-year annual average of 51 accidents, nine of which resulted in 15 deaths.

Bill Yearwood, regional manager for the federal transportation safety board, said from Richmond he believes that the latest figures represent an “all-time low” and hope they are grounds for optimism for the future. “We’re encouraged and hope this is a trend, not an anomaly.”

An aircraft accident involves severe injury, death or damage to an aircraft that requires repairs before being deemed airworthy.

Although there is no one obvious reason behind the decline in accidents, Yearwood cited several potential contributing factors: an increase in professionalism, especially in small and mid-sized commercial operations; higher fuel prices resulting in less flying by private enthusiasts; implementation of “safety management systems” for larger operations; and the news media reporting more on aircraft accidents.

“There’s a lot more awareness and that has an impact,” Yearwood said in an interview.

Aircraft accidents also continue to decline across Canada: 251 in 2014, of which 14 resulted in 21 deaths. That compares with a five-year annual average of 282 accidents, including 37 that caused 67 deaths.

The trend is especially encouraging in B.C., where the mountainous terrain tends to result in worse crashes with a greater chance of deaths.

Martin Eley, director-general of civil aviation for Transport Canada, said his department is looking at making safety management systems compulsory also for smaller commercial air operations. These systems are a documented method of managing risks, covering operations, technical systems, financial and human resources aspects of aviation. “In a lot of cases, it’s a culture change,” he said. “We are seeing benefits.”

A safety board investigation into the Aug. 16, 2013, crash of a Nootka Air de Havilland Beaver at Hesquiat Peninsula cited pilot error, but also noted the company did not have a safety management system nor was it required to have one. The pilot and one of five passengers died.

Eley added that he does not believe that the total amount of flying has decreased, especially commercial. “There are ups and downs, but everything we see tells us that aviation continues to grow for the most part.”

Said Yearwood: “Any safety management system is only as good as how well it is implemented, and the buy-in from every employee. You can’t just take something off the shelf and make it work. Every employee has to understand risk management.”

B.C.’s two fatal crashes in 2014 involved the death of the pilot and passenger in the July 26 crash shortly after takeoff from Nanaimo Airport of a homebuilt Avid amphibian plane, and the death of a passenger in the Aug. 30 crash of a private Cessna 172 during landing on a strip at Crawford Bay north of Creston.

The board performed a full investigation into just one accident, the Aug. 14 crash of a Conair Air Tractor collecting water during firefighting duties near Pink Mountain in northeast B.C. The plane sank but the pilot survived thanks to a crash cage, restraints, helmet and life vest.

Story and photo:  http://www.vancouversun.com

A pilot and passenger survived the crash of an Air Nootka float plane into forest on the Hesquiat Peninsula in 2013 but died from a post-crash fire, a federal transportation safety board report found.

Vehicle Crash Victim Admits To Killing Wife While On Helicopter Ride To Hospital

CARBONDALE, Colo. (CBS4) – Police and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation are investigating a homicide with strange circumstances in Carbondale where the last murder was more than a decade ago.

Originally first responders thought they were just dealing with a victim of a car crash. The man was brought to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs and then flown to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction for a higher level of care. When he was in the air he told the flight crew he wasn’t just involved in a car accident, but that he had also just murdered his wife in an apartment building in Carbondale.

The car crash happened Monday at approximately 7:15 a.m. on Highway 133 heading south out of Carbondale near Roaring Fork High School. The driver of a Toyota 4Runner drove into an 18-wheeler cattle truck that was empty at the time.

Several hours later a call came back to Carbondale police that they needed to investigate the alleged confession.

“Carbondale Police Department officers responded to the reported location of the homicide and found the residents were not injured. Carbondale Police Officers continued searching apartments in the area,” police said in a statement.

Officers then came in contact with a woman who was arriving home to her home on Cooper Place. The woman wouldn’t let officers inside but checked the unit and found a dead body.

“The resident would not allow police officers to search her home, but agreed to check the apartment,” Carbondale police said in a statement. “This resident then reported a deceased individual in the apartment with suspected knife wounds. The victim was obviously deceased.”

Investigators worked around the clock and were still at the apartment late into Tuesday afternoon.

Neighbors told CBS4 they didn’t know the couple, who kept to themselves. Carbondale police are not releasing their identities yet.

The police chief told CBS4 he’s expecting to file an arrest warrant on the husband for murder charges. The man is under protective custody at the hospital in Grand Junction but is expected to recover from his injuries.

Police said in the statement that the last homicide in Carbondale happened in April 2003. The suspect was convicted of manslaughter. According to the Post Independent in Glenwood Springs, the last murder in Carbondale city limits was in January 1994 when a man shot and killed his roommate.

Story and photos:  http://denver.cbslocal.com

Man who stole airplane to serve 15 years in prison

Henderson County Jail

ATHENS, TEXAS — A punishment hearing was held last Thursday afternoon for Joshua Paul Calhoun. After a full afternoon of evidence and testimony, the presiding Judge Dan Moore sentenced Calhoun to serve 15 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in the Institutional Division.

Assistant district attorneys Nancy Rumar and Justin Weiner prosecuted the case on behalf of Scott McKee’s Henderson County District Attorney Office.

After the hearing Assistant District Attorney, Justin Weiner, stated: “Henderson County and all of East Texas should be immensely proud of the collective efforts of their law enforcement officers in bringing Calhoun to Justice. We had the cooperation of federal law enforcement officials and local law enforcement from multiple states. Their testimony in court insured that this very dangerous man is behind bars.” Assistant District Attorney Rumar stated: “The fact that so many out of town officers were willing to come testify speaks volumes for the type of history that Calhoun has with law enforcement. I am glad that we have people willing to drive over 20 hours round trip to testify against him.”

Back on December 10, 2014 Calhoun was indicted by a Henderson County Jury for Evading Arrest or Detention with a Motor Vehicle and also found that he used the vehicle as a Deadly Weapon in the course of committing the offense. The jury, composed of 8 woman and 4 men, convicted Calhoun in only 8 minutes.

During the punishment hearing, the assistant district attorney’s presented evidence of various other crimes that Calhoun had committed in the past. In one of those crimes, the Court heard from Federal Customs Border Patrol Agent Cynthia Sandoval. Agent Sandoval was stationed at the Falcon Dam port of entry when she attempted to search Calhoun’s vehicle upon his entry into the Country. When she received information that he was armed and dangerous he tried to get away. In the process he dragged Agent Sandoval over 40 feet with his pickup truck. After a pursuit had ensued, Calhoun escaped and remained at large.

Athens Police Department Officer Michael Reynolds testified about his dealings with Calhoun when has stolen an airplane from the Athens Municipal Airport. Reports show that Calhoun stole an airplane without any flight experience and was able to fly the airplane for a period of time until it crashed into the woods.

Finally, Henderson County Investigator Michael Shelly and Patrol Deputy Tracy Dunnington testified about a time that Calhoun stole a tanker truck. Traveling at speeds over 50 mph on a country road, Calhoun crashed the truck and ran on foot. The Operations Manager for the owner of the tanker relayed the sheer terror that he felt when he found out that the tanker still had 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel inside it. Fortunately the theft, which occurred just outside of Shreveport Louisiana, was tracked by a GPS monitoring device on the truck. Sergeant Kevin Ainsworth of the Greenwood, Louisiana Police Department coordinated efforts with the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office to locate the tanker.

Calhoun’s conviction stemmed from a June 18, 2014 incident where Henderson County Sheriff’s Deputy Cynthia Clements received information that a black 2002 Dodge pickup truck, that was reportedly stolen by Joshua Calhoun, would be traveling South on highway 155 crossing Lake Palestine. Deputy Spencer Gray made visual contact with the vehicle and began to follow it confirming that the license plate matched that of the stolen truck. Deputy Clements followed Deputy Gray as the pickup truck turned onto County Road 4222. Failing to yield to Deputy Spencer’s lights and siren, the pickup truck sped up down the one land County Road.

The jury watched video captured by dash cameras which showed extremely dangerous maneuvering by Calhoun in the pickup. Reaching speeds of 90mph, two bystander’s vehicles were run off of the road. Calhoun drove at high rates of speeds through turns and at one point cut through the front yard of a home. After miles of speeding down various County Roads, Calhoun temporarily got away while forcing through the entry of a hay pasture. Deputies would ultimately find the severely damaged and no longer drivable pickup at the very end of the pasture right in front of an opening into a heavily wooded area.

Multiple agencies were called out and responded to assist in what became a manhunt involving upwards of 25 officers. Officers with the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Public Safety, Frankston Police Department, Coffee City Police Department, and even tracking dogs from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice where used to help located Calhoun who began running through thick woods on foot.

Investigator Michael Shelley of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office patrolled part of a four mile perimeter used by the Command Staff of the Sheriff’s Office to contain Calhoun. Investigator Shelley, a member of the East Texas Auto Theft Task Force, noticed Calhoun on the porch of a steel building attempting to blend in with his surroundings. When Investigator Shelley approached Calhoun, he ran towards a brick home and ultimately fled toward a nearby tree line. Calhoun, when pursued at gunpoint by Investigator Shelley, ultimately gave up and identified himself when he was taken into custody. Calhoun was found approximately one mile from where the stolen pickup was found.

Eventually, the pickup was processed for evidence and Investigator Shelley located several items of evidentiary value. He located a check made out to Calhoun which was folded in a Bible, a Whataburger receipt, and a Kroger’s receipt. After acquiring the surveillance footage from both businesses, Investigator Shelly identified Calhoun in the black pickup going through the drive-through at Whataburger only 14 minutes before the pursuit began. The jury watched surveillance footage from both locations which provided damaging evidence to the defense.

District Attorney Scott McKee praised the work of all the agents involved in bringing Calhoun to justice. “I’m glad he is off the streets and behind bars.” Said McKee. McKee also indicated that he was proud of the coordination with the different agencies in testifying at the punishment hearing. “Some of these law enforcement officials traveled many miles to testify at the hearing, many on their own time.”

Story and photo:  http://www.ketknbc.com

Cirrus SR22: Incident occurred at Ogden-Hinckley Airport (KOGD), Ogden, Utah

OGDEN — Firefighters responded to the Ogden Municipal Airport after a plane aborted its takeoff Monday afternoon.

At about 2:30 p.m., a Cirrus SR22 carrying four occupants attempted to take off from the airport, according to the Ogden Fire Department.

Smoke had begun filling the plane, prompting the pilot to stop takeoff and get all passengers to evacuate the aircraft.

Ogden firefighters were deployed as a precaution, but the plane’s engine did not catch fire.

Officials on scene determined there was a mechanical failure in the engine.

Nobody was injured.

Story and comments:  http://www.standard.net

Backcountry pilots land status in Forest Service planning rule

A private plane takes off from Schafer Meadow airstrip in the Great Bear Wilderness. The airstrip was grandfathered into the federal wilderness area, and backcountry aircraft use is now an official part of the U.S. Forest Service planning process.

The biggest challenge to backcountry flying is having a place to land your airplane.

That’s why small-plane pilots around the country were celebrating last week when they got official notice that recreational aircraft are now a recognized part of the U.S. Forest Service’s planning process.

While the change doesn’t bring any new resources, it does mean planes get considered along with horse corrals, bike trails, snowmobile routes and other backcountry user needs.

“Our discovery when dealing with the Forest Service was that most of them aren’t pilots,” said Ron Normandeau, a Polson pilot and member of the Recreational Aviation Foundation which fought for the recognition. “Therefore, they lack an appreciation for our training, of the requirements for licensing and maintenance of our aircraft. They’re familiar with four-wheelers and snowmobiles. They deal with them every day of the year. Aircraft are a little different. They only deal with us when they come across one of us at an airstrip.”

About a century ago, Missoula-area pilots and Forest Service staff pioneered backcountry air use as a way to fight forest fires and resupply remote ranger stations. The South Fork of the Flathead River had at least seven air strips at one time. Today there are six recognized landing fields on Forest Service land in all of Montana.

When the RAF started advocating for better recognition, the Forest Service did an inventory of airfields throughout the West. The agency came up with 92, while RAF fliers reported 119.

Recreational Aviation Foundation public lands director Mark Spencer said he ran into the issue the first time he tried backcountry flying.

“The first place I’m going to go, I went to land and there’s a campground in the middle of the runway,” Spencer said from his home in Tucson, Arizona. “I talked to someone in the Forest Service about it, and he said, ‘Where were you and your pilot community when we had two years of discussions on that air strip?’

“The bottom line is pilots were using these strips and nobody knew it. And nobody knew the Forest Service was thinking about closing these things. We realized we better come out of the woods and let people know we’re here.”    

For the past two years, the Forest Service has been drafting its Planning Rule – a set of guidelines that tell local forest supervisors how to write forest plans for individual forests. The Flathead and Lewis and Clark national forests (which together oversee much of the Bob Marshall Wilderness) are both undergoing forest plan updates that use the new planning rule.

That means features like the Benchmark airstrip west of Augusta, the Meadow Creek field south of Hungry Horse Reservoir and Schafer Meadows airstrip in the Great Bear Wilderness will all get specific consideration as the new management plans and travel policies are developed.

All three fields existed before the ground received congressional wilderness designation, and all three have been grandfathered for future use.

But that doesn’t mean the fields are universally accepted. A wheelbarrow at Schafer Meadows has drawn controversy because visitors have used it to haul rafting gear to the nearby Middle Fork of the Flathead River – in violation of the wilderness prohibition on wheeled equipment.

Meadow and Benchmark are both outside wilderness boundaries, but frequently get complaints about aircraft engine noise next to a place that, by law, is supposed to have “outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.”

Normandeau said pilots were aware of their “noise signature” and the RAF recommended keeping it to a minimum. The group has also brought volunteers to repair or upgrade Forest Service airstrips, and recently built the first new one in 50 years at Russian Flats in the Belt Mountains near Martinsdale.

The group has also commissioned a study looking at the effects of airplane noise on wildlife in order to answer those concerns, according to RAF spokeswoman Carmine Mowbray.

“All of this doesn’t mean more access,” Mowbray said. “It means the access we’ve had is documented and part of travel plans, just like snowmobiling, hiking, bicycling and those kind of activities.”

Story, comments and photo:  http://missoulian.com

Opponents of Leaded Aviation Fuel Could Be In For Long Wait

Mary Rosenblum, president of the Oregon Pilots Association, with her plane in her garage near Canby, Oregon. Rosenblum doesn't like the idea of leaded fuel, still used by many small aircraft, but she says alternatives are hard to find. 
Tony Schick / OPB


It’s no secret lead exposure is dangerous. Even low levels can affect a child’s brain.

It’s also no secret that airports are one of the last remaining sources of airborne lead in the U.S.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency attests to both these facts.

And yet, the EPA has yet to declare an “endangerment finding” for leaded aviation fuel. That means it hasn’t said whether those emissions pose enough of a threat to public health or welfare to trigger the long and complex process of regulating them.

Lead was removed from car fuel and paint in the U.S. decades ago. That drove levels of lead in the air down nearly 95 percent. The amount of lead in Americans’ blood dropped just the same.

Large, commercial planes use jet fuel, which is lead-free. But lead remains an additive to the aviation fuel still used by piston-engine aircraft, such as smaller airplanes and helicopters. About 230,000 of these aircraft are in use worldwide, and 167,00o are in the U.S.

Scientists now say no amount of lead exposure is safe for children. Lead paint in old homes is still the most likely source for children’s lead exposure. But aircraft are some of the only active polluters putting lead into the environment.

Environmental groups have petitioned or sued the EPA to force action on this issue three times since 2006. Each time the agency has denied them.  It has most recently delayed until 2018 a decision on lead emissions from aircraft.

“How much more studying do we need to do?” asked Jim Lubischer, a pediatrician who lives near Hillsboro, Oregon. “We know this stuff is very toxic. We know it’s being emitted in the air, over our kids, over everybody. There should be regulations to stop it.”

Lubischer is part of Oregon Aviation Watch, a group whose frequent complaints about the airport in Hillsboro target concerns ranging from noise to national security.

It was a petition from Oregon Aviation Watch, Friends of the Earth and Physicians for Social Responsibility that triggered the EPA’s latest denial in late January.

“I think it’s kind of a no-brainer,” Lubischer said of removing lead from aviation gas.

Fuel use at the Hillsboro Airport emits roughly half a ton of lead per year, making it Oregon’s leading producer of airborne lead. It’s one of more than a thousand airports that produce nearly 80 percent of lead emissions throughout Oregon, Washington and Idaho, according to an analysis of EPA data.

Across the country, airports account for nearly half of all lead emissions.

Critics of the EPA, such as Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth, say the EPA’s delays on lead mirror other stances by the agency that divorce science from politics, despite a pledge from the Obama administration to base its policies on science.

“With the pressure and the politics that EPA is under, it’s almost impossible to even get something as harmful and clearcut as lead taken out of this fuel stream,” Keever said.

One independent study in 2011 showed children living near airports had slightly higher concentrations of lead in their blood. It’s been widely cited by environmental groups. Combining that, estimates of aircraft emissions and the federal government’s advisory that lead is unsafe in children’s blood at any level, groups like Keever’s say the EPA has all the information it needs to declare lead fuels dangerous.

The EPA declined an interview request for this story. An agency spokeswoman said in an email that it takes the issue seriously and is currently collecting necessary data.

The EPA is currently tracking lead concentrations at 17 of the country’s nearly 20,000 airports. Two of those 17 did not meet the national air quality standard for lead. The agency estimates 16 million people live within one kilometer of an airport.

“Our investigation includes necessary data collection and analysis that will provide nationwide estimates of the contribution of aircraft lead emissions to lead air pollution concentrations as well as an analysis of the impacted population,” EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones wrote.

Grounding aircraft

The Federal Aviation Administration has tried for years to develop an unleaded fuel. It, too, is targeting 2018. Its plan for implementing that fuel standard would take the better part of a decade.

Alternatives exist now, but they tend to be either expensive or not widely available.

In Hillsboro, the airport recently unveiled a plan to supply unleaded gasoline. Many planes flying with leaded fuel could use unleaded gasoline so long as it doesn’t have ethanol.

The airport hopes to reduce emissions by a tenth of a ton by introducing the fuel. But an airport study found that in addition to being costly and usable only for certain aircraft, many pilots are reluctant to use unleaded fuel regardless of price.

Mary Rosenblum, president of the Oregon Pilot’s Association, said safety is one factor.

“There are a lot of people who are understandably reluctant to go out and fly over the Rocky Mountains with a fuel that maybe will cause something to deteriorate,” Rosenblum said.

Rosenblum spends much of her day in the garage, working on her custom-built plane. Hers can actually use unleaded fuel, but she says there are very few places she can find it without ethanol.

Rosenblum doesn’t like the idea of leaded fuel. Still, she’d prefer not to see a regulation. The emissions are minimal, and the costs would be great.

A writer by profession, Rosenblum flies as a hobby. She worries more about what the loss of leaded fuel would mean for the crop dusting, surveying and transport planes she says are crucial to the rural economy.

“It would be a significant economic impact — an adverse economic impact — if we said ‘OK, no more leaded fuel right now,’” Rosenblum said. “You’re going to ground an awful lot of aircraft that are not out there because they’re somebody’s toy. They’re out there because they’re doing work.”

A lot more to know

Meanwhile, not much data in Northwest states exists to link airport lead emissions  directly to effects on human health in the region.

“There’s a lot more to know about potential exposures at airports,” said Sarah Armitage, an air quality specialist with Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality. “And we really need that information before we can say there’s no problem.”

DEQ does not monitor lead at the state’s 457 public- and private-use airports, though. What it knows about lead at the Hillsboro airport comes from an air toxics monitor stationed less than a mile away from the airport, which is not set up specifically for lead. Armitage said lead is one of several chemicals that could make the agency’s priority list for future monitoring.

DEQ also doesn’t have the authority to regulate aviation if it wanted to, Armitage said. That’s one more reason she and others were hoping to see federal regulation move faster.

“We were looking forward to their work on this and the potential regulation of lead because we still have concerns that it could be causing a problem,” she said.

Story, video and photos:  http://www.opb.org

Airplanes line the tarmac at the airport in Hillsboro, Oregon. The airport is considering supplying unleaded fuel. Many piston-engine aircraft like small planes and helicopters use aviation gas, a fuel that contains lead. Environmental advocates have called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to end the use of lead in aviation fuel.