Pilot Journal
Sunday, July 1, 2007

What’s RVSM?


A great idea that allows ATC to fit more airplanes into smaller, radar-less airspace


The problem was simple: too many airplanes and too little sky. This flies in the face of traditional wisdom that suggests it’s a very big sky. While that’s unquestionably true above places such as Chad, Antarctica and the Gobi Desert, there are other places where there’s an uncomfortable amount of aluminum vying for roughly the same airspace. " />

A number of fine aviation training companies offer transition courses for aspiring RVSM flight crews, but one of the most established is King Schools of San Diego, Calif. King Schools has long offered training in virtually all areas of aviation. Owners John and Martha King operate a Falcon 10 business jet all over the world, and they’ve put together a series of courses intended to ease the transition for a new jet pilot. The Kings’ $199 RVSM course is only one of a half-dozen online classes available for jet pilots from the San Diego school. King CEO Dave Jackson arranged for me to sample the interactive computer RVSM course at www.kingschoolsonline.com. There’s nothing difficult about the material, and most pilots will make it through the course in a little more than an hour.

Reduced vertical-separation minimums represent a more efficient method of operating jets and turboprops in the rarefied sky above 29,000 feet. It’s not for everyone, but for those who make use of North Atlantic and other nonradar airspace, it provides an extra measure of safety and economy.



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