The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is set to change the Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) authorisation process for aircraft flying in US airspace.
The change can be brought in by removing the need for US-registered operators to apply for RVSM authorisation when their flights meet altitude-keeping requirements and are incorporated with qualified Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out systems.
First introduced in 1997, RVSM enables the reduction of the vertical separation that is required between aircraft above 29,000ft from a minimum of 2,000ft to 1,000ft.
This enables pilots to fly their aircraft safely at more optimum profiles, ensures fuel savings and enhances airspace capacity.
Operators need to ensure that their aircraft design is in line with RVSM performance requirements.
They are also required to adopt policies and procedures for the safe conduct of RVSM operations before the US federal agency approves their RVSM authorisation.
In addition, the operators need to have a separate programme to maintain RVSM systems and equipment.
The FAA will grant authorisations for aircraft to operate in RVSM airspace after necessary requirements have been met.
If implemented, the proposed changes will enable the FAA to use the ADS-B Out technology to monitor altitude-keeping performance on RVSM-capable aircraft whenever they travel through the US ADS-B airspace.
From 1 January 2020, aircraft operating in most of the US' airspace will have to be equipped with ADS-B.
The current RVSM authorisation process will be applicable for operators whose aircraft do not routinely fly in airspace where the FAA has sufficient ADS-B data to determine RVSM performance or in the case of a specific approval requirement by a foreign country.