There’s a new proposal on the table at the FAA that would make gaining RVSM approval for flight above 29,000 feet a whole lot simpler for U.S. aircraft. Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) was established starting in 1997 to reduce the vertical separation between aircraft operating between Flight Level 290 and 410 from 2,000 feet to 1,000 feet, a change that required the installation and testing of very accurate altimeters and the certification of every aircraft before being allowed to fly in RVSM airspace.
The new proposal does nothing to change RVSM airspace, just the requirements for certification for aircraft wanting to operate in it. The idea is to allow ADS-B Out receivers in lieu of advanced altimeters and testing. At the moment, to get FAA RVSM authorization, operators must submit an application and test data proving that their aircraft design satisfies performance requirements and that they have policies and procedures for conducting safe RVSM operations.
The FAA estimates that the rule change would save roughly $35 million in application fees and reduced fuel costs from more efficient access to airspace during the first 5 years following its implementation. Though the FAA didn’t go into it, users would also save a great deal of time and money with the easier certification procedures, as well.
The proposed rule is open for comment until September 6 at the U.S. Federal Register.