FAA considering change to Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum authorization process

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering a change to its Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) authorization process.

RVSM is the global standard for the separation between aircraft above 29,000 feet, allowing planes to fly more optimum profiles. Minimum separation is 1,000 feet.

It was implemented in 1997 and increases airspace capacity while saving fuel.

The change would eliminate the requirement for U.S.-registered operators to apply for authorization if aircraft meet altitude-keeping requirements and are equipped with qualified Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out systems.

The change would reduce the FAA workload and operators’ costs, the FAA said.

“The FAA estimates that the proposal would result in approximately $35 million ($30.8 million of 7 percent present value) in cost savings during the first five years if the rule’s implementation primarily resulting from the ability of operators to operate their aircraft at more fuel efficient RVSM altitudes,” the FAA said. “The FAA estimates that this proposed rulemaking would save each affected small entity equipped with qualified ADS-B Out systems … $1,630.”

Under current rules, operators must meet minimum requirements.

Aircraft equipped with ADS-B can conduct RVSM operations immediately and would allow the FAA to monitor altitude-keeping performance.

ADS-B will be mandatory for aircraft operating in most U.S. airspace on Jan. 1, 2020.