It’s getting easier to find deals on RVSM upgrades

 - January 14, 2008, 11:02 AM

As deadlines for domestic and expanded international reduced vertical separation minimum airspace draw nearer, more and more opportunities are popping up for operators to obtain installation of RVSM-approved avionics and other required equipment. Arinc, Jet Source and West Star Aviation are among the latest organizations to announce RVSM solutions. In some cases, competition is helping drive down prices. 

Business aircraft operators haven’t traditionally thought of Arinc when it comes time for a major avionics upgrade or modification. That may change soon as the company, originally founded by the federal government in 1929 to provide airline radio licenses, sets its sites squarely on the business aviation market.

Arinc Direct, a new division of the Annapolis, Md. company that provides services tailored specifically to business aircraft operators, is now offering a complete line of RVSM approval-support services. At the top of that menu are the aircraft modifications needed to meet RVSM, which the company said can be performed at its recently expanded Colorado Springs, Colo. service center.

In addition, Arinc can prepare an operator’s complete RVSM approval package and schedule monitoring test flights from sites around the U.S. and in Canada. Arinc Direct also provides flight-support services and datalink communications equip- ment and is developing the SkyLink satellite broadband Internet service for business jets.

Jet Source, an avionics installation center based at McClellan-Palomar Airport north of San Diego, now offers RVSM approval work at the firm’s FAA-approved repair station. The list of aircraft for which Jet Source can perform needed avionics upgrades includes the Beechjet 400A, Hawker 800/1000, King Air B200/300, Challenger 600 series, Falcon 20/50 series and Gulfstream III. RVSM approvals for additional airframes will be offered as they become available, said the company. Jet Source also operates an FBO with more than 120,000 sq ft of hangar space at the airport.

West Star Aviation of Grand Junction, Colo., recently signed an agreement with Garrett Aviation Services to purchase and install the latter’s RVSM package in the Citation 500 series.

The package, now available for all straight-wing Citations except for the first 275 serial numbers and the S550, consists of two Innovative Solutions & Support air-data dis-play units, two IS&S “P” modules, an IS&S analog/digital autopilot interface unit and an installation kit and harness assembly Basic installed price is about $105,000, and downtime is about three weeks.

West Star is also working to obtain an STC for an RVSM package for the Learjet 30 series. The equipment package, scheduled to be available for installation in June, includes Honeywell’s AZ-252 advanced air data computer, AM-250 barometric altimeter/air data computer, BA-250 altimeter display and altitude alerter control.

While RVSM airspace is already operational in several parts of the world, implementation of domestic RVSM in U.S. and Canadian airspace has been delayed one month from December 2004 to January 2005. Beginning then, aircraft flying between FL 290 and FL 410, inclusive, in domestic U.S. and Canadian airspace must be RVSM equipped and approved for air traffic control to legally and safely space aircraft at 1,000-foot altitude increments rather than the current 2,000-foot spacing.

DRVSM may still be two years away, but a scheduling crunch is possible as installation centers gear up for mandated retrofit of terrain awareness and warning systems in thousands of turbine airplanes, the deadline for which is January 2005 in Europe and March 2005 in the U.S.