JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport officials announced Wednesday that the airport will begin phasing out leaded aviation fuel with the goal of becoming the first airport in the state to transition to unleaded fuel.
The use of leaded gasoline has been a growing concern among residents near the airport for several years. The Jefferson County airport is home to a growing number of pilot training schools and many of them train on smaller planes that still use leaded fuel.
Superior resident Dr. Robert Boutelle talked to Denver7 last month about the concerns he and other residents have. He said and he and two colleagues tested windowsills at nine houses, spread across different neighborhoods near the airport, and were alarmed at the amount of lead they found.
“They were astonishingly high, a part per thousand,” Dr. Boutelle said. “According to the EPA, if that [amount] was in the soil, this would be a superfund site.”
The federal government issued a mandate last year that requires all airports to eliminate leaded fuel by 2030. Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport hopes to move ahead of that deadline and become the first airport in Colorado to comply with the FAA mandate.
“We're already in that process to switching over to UL 94, which is an unleaded aviation fuel, which is compatible with two-thirds of Rocky Mountain Metro’s aviation fleet,” RMMA Director Paul Anslow said during a press conference Wednesday. “The airport's purchase of a new fuel truck you see behind me and a 12,000-gallon tank that will be installed in 2024 will allow us to switch over to the existing fleet by fall of 2024.”
The cost for unleaded fuel is currently about $1.36 more per gallon than leaded aviation fuel. But the airport said it will be working with flight schools and fixed base operators to incentivize the use of unleaded fuel and bring the cost down a bit.