An operational alert NBAA published last month requires some clarification. The alert said, “Some operators have misinterpreted climb and descent guidance for operations in RVSM airspace and have been incorrectly restricting the aircraft climb/descent rate to 1,000 fpm at all times when in RVSM airspace.”
NBAA said the FAA asked it to issue this alert because the agency had “noticed that operators, while climbing and descending in RVSM airspace, would restrict the vertical speed rate to 1,000 feet per minute at all times, even when there were no aircraft in the vicinity.” NBAA cited section 4-4-9(d) of the Aeronautical Information Manual to support the alert, but this section does not mention operations within RVSM airspace.
The FAA RVSM Web site publishes the following recommended procedures: “Climb and descent rates in RVSM airspace and transition areas should be limited to 1,000 fpm [our emphasis] when operating within five (5) nm and 2,000 feet of other aircraft to minimize the generation of TAs and RAs.”
The bottom line? When you are not near other aircraft you are not limited to 1,000-fpm climbs or descents in RVSM airspace.