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AOPA backs streamlined RVSM approvalsAOPA backs streamlined RVSM approvals

The FAA’s proposal to allow the use of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out (ADS-B Out) to support flight operations in reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) airspace could cut costs and enhance efficiency without degrading safety, AOPA said in a regulatory filing.

The altitude-conformance monitoring capability of ADS-B Out offers an opportunity to remove “an unnecessary bureaucratic approval process” required before aircraft can operate in RVSM airspace, AOPA said in comments supporting the FAA’s proposed rule to modernize RVSM requirements.

RVSM airspace was initiated in phases in 1997 and 2003 after years of joint study with industry to reduce vertical separation between Flight Level 290 and FL 410 from 2,000 feet to 1,000 feet for aircraft that meet strict monitoring standards. The change essentially doubled capacity in the airspace segment and offered more efficient operating altitudes.

The FAA also launched a performance monitoring program to support RVSM.

As RVSM participation increased, the agency studied “ways to streamline the RVSM application process to lower the burden on operators to obtain RVSM authorizations and reduce the FAA's workload associated with processing and granting these authorizations,” it said.

The proposed rule would eliminate the application process for operators of qualified ADS-B Out equipped aircraft “operating where the FAA has ADS-B coverage sufficient to confirm RVSM height-keeping performance.”

With ADS-B Out technology soon to be required for aircraft flying at RVSM altitudes (under the mandate to equip by Jan. 1, 2020), AOPA believes that the time has come to eliminate the administrative burden operators using RVSM airspace currently face by ratifying the proposed rule.

“AOPA believes this rule takes an important step in removing an unnecessary bureaucratic approval process that is no longer justifiable as pilots equip with advanced NextGen technology. ADS-B Out technology offers an opportunity for advanced altitude conformance monitoring without a lengthy and labor-intensive paperwork exercise,” wrote Rune Duke, AOPA director of airspace and air traffic, in formal comments submitted by the association.

AOPA also called on the FAA to continue working with industry partners to identify other rules that are “unnecessary or redundant.”

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, Aircraft Regulation, NextGen

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