Getting started: The road to RVSM approval

 - July 30, 2008, 7:34 AM

The following is a list of steps operators will need to complete to gain RVSM approval.
For more details on these items, visit the FAA’s DRVSM Web site at ats/ato/rvsm1.htm (midway down the page is a link to operator approval documents, FAA contacts and a frequently asked questions section). Once an operator has determined that it will need to seek RVSM approval, the following should be completed:

• Contact aircraft manufacturer or service center for needed airworthiness approval documents, including RVSM Service Bulletins, aircraft service change notices and supplemental type certificates. (For new airplanes, the flight manual statement and type certificate data sheet are required.) The manufacturer or service center should advise an operator whether the aircraft is covered by group approval or is considered a non-group airplane. Additionally, the OEM or service center will provide the needed airworthiness approval documents.

• Contact local Flight Standards District Office or Certificate Management Office to arrange pre-application meeting to discuss requirements for approval.

• About 60 days in advance, submit RVSM application to FSDO or CMO for operational approval. If aircraft modifications are expected to take extra time, add this into the 60-day buffer. The application will include airworthiness documents; description of aircraft equipment; operations training programs and practices and procedures; operations manuals and checklists; past performance; minimum equipment list; maintenance program; plan for participation in height-monitoring programs; and plan for reporting altitude-keeping errors.

• The FSDO or CMO reviews the application and prepares to register the operator’s RVSM-compliant airframe in the U.S. RVSM approvals database.

• When an operator has completed airworthiness and operations program requirements, the FSDO or CMO grants RVSM operational approval. Prior requirements include checks of aircraft skin waviness around the static system ports and may entail the replacement of air-data computers, altimeters, altitude alerters and autopilots.

• Operator must fly test flight with ground- or height-monitoring units within six months of RVSM approval, or six months after RVSM implementation date.