The FAA’s requirement that business aircraft operators obtain letters of authorization (LOAs) for flight in reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) airspace is causing not only enormous wastes of fuel but safety problems as well, according to feedback from AIN readers. Other operations require LOAs such as PRnav, BRnav, RNP, MNPS, ADS-B and maintenance authorizations such as the MEL, but extended delays by the FAA in approving RVSM LOAs are presenting serious safety and environmental issues, according to operators and NBAA.
Reduced Vertical Separation Minima
Business aircraft operators are frustrated that the FAA takes so long–months in many cases–to sign off Letters of Authorization (LOA), principally for RVSM operations. One operator has been waiting five months for an LOA after a Falcon changed ownership in April; this jet is flown and maintained by the same crew, and it was already N registered and RVSM approved before the sale. The operator recently nearly declared an emergency because he wasn’t allowed to climb above 29,000 feet and was facing a line of thunderstorms.
This has got to stop. We all know that FAA inspectors at the Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) level are overworked and that FAA regulations, policies, procedures and programs impose impossible requirements on agency personnel. But when a drop-dead simple piece of paperwork that needs an approval signature hits the desk and gets delayed for some obscure confounded reason, causing the grounding of a multimillion-dollar jet, well, this simply has got to stop.
Twin Commander service center Eagle Creek Aviation Services was issued an STC for a Garmin G950 upgrade on Twin Commander turboprops. The STC replaces the existing avionics and instruments with a 12.4-inch MFD and two 10.4-inch PFDs, subtracting approximately 150 pounds from the airplane’s empty weight. The S-Tec 2100 digital autopilot has been a popular upgrade in the Twin Commander series and that system couples with the G950, or the autopilot can be installed during the upgrade. Engine instrumentation is displayed on the MFD.
The FAA has reminded operators that continued operations within reduced vertical separation minimum airspace require aircraft maintenance in accordance with RVSM maintenance guidelines. The agency is concerned that many operators bring aircraft in for maintenance and fail to adequately document compliance with RVSM standards.
Having taken over the European Hawker Beechcraft MRO business last year, Marshall Aviation Services (MAS) has completed its first King Air flightdeck upgrade, employing the Garmin G1000 avionics system. The King Air 300 modified for a European operator is the first aircraft in the EMEA region to feature this major upgrade.
Advanced Aircrew Academy received FAA FAASTeam approval of its Part 43 FAR Review online training module for FAA inspection authorization (IA) renewal credit. Advanced Aircrew Academy is already an FAA-approved training provider for the Wings pilot proficiency program. The company offers online maintenance modules for alcohol/drug misuse prevention, fatigue management, hazardous materials (dangerous goods), human factors, minimum equipment list (MEL) use, OSHA topics, RVSM, safety management systems and security.
On January 27, the FAA announced that it has developed a more streamlined process to help operators with the letter of authorization (LOA) needed for flight in reduced vertical separation minimums (RVSM) airspace above FL280. A joint industry/FAA task force studied issues with RVSM certification and made recommendations about how to improve the system last May.
Vancouver, Canada-based TrainingPort.net has released an online training course on RVSM for business aviation maintenance personnel. Annual per-person subscriptions to the service provide a collection of 20 to 25 topics depending upon the needs of the company. The typical subscription provides a lesson every week to 10 days throughout the year. The company currently offers 60 topics, ranging from airborne icing to health and safety.
The job of an FAA inspector must be incredibly boring. I imagine them sitting at their desks all day facing down gigantic piles of paper: letters of authorization, certification compliance packages, applications for operating certificates, enforcement actions, ad infinitum. And when the poor beleaguered inspector gets one pile stamped, signed and delivered, an FAA factotum appears with a new stack and thumps it onto whatever clear space remains in the office. Every day, looking up blearily from the stacks, our overworked inspector looks fondly out the window and wonders whether she can take a few minutes away from the office to visit the airport and see if her charges are playing nice or need some friendly nudging.
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