In January 2005, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) came up with RVSM regulations. Their main aim was to increase the number of flights between FL290 and FL410 levels. Although it is not mandatory to obtain RVSM approval, it will enable Air Traffic Control (ATC) to give you desirable routing. So how do you go about getting RVSM approval from FAA? Below is a simple guideline outlining all the steps you need to follow.
Certifying the aircraft
The first step is ascertaining that your plane has RVSM flight operations capability. The manufacturer clearly states this capability in the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM). If your aircraft is older, check the service bulletin or the supplemental type of certificate which will show that the RVSM equipment was upgraded. If you do not find any of these on your plane, it’s an indication that your plane is not RVSM compliant. You need to call the manufacturer so that they can provide an RVSM solution for your model.
Preparing application package
In this second stage, you need to prepare an application package that you will submit to the FAA. You need to develop an RVSM operations and maintenance program as part of your application. You will submit these two together with your pilot and aircraft documents to the FAA for a review. Work with experts to develop your own unique RVSM manual as there is no standard format that works for all operations.
Providing proof of RVSM pilot training
You must provide FAA with solid proof that your pilot has received RVSM training. If your plane has a single-pilot rating, one of your pilots must have undergone an FAA accepted course and passed. If it is rated as a dual-pilot aircraft, then at least two of your pilots must have received the RVSM training. This training is self-paced and conducted online in some FAA accredited institutions. For your RVSM operations program to be approved, the pilots RVSM certificate must not be more than 24 months old. If it has expired, FAA stipulates that they must take another course for your RVSM package to be considered for approval.
Review by FAA
After completing your application package, you will submit it to the relevant FAA office for review. Two officers assigned by the operations supervisor will review your application to verify the information provided. The operations part of the application will be evaluated by the operations inspector while the maintenance part will be reviewed by the airworthiness inspector. Generally, FAA is expected to take 60 days to review your manual and give a feedback. However, it can take longer due to certain factors, such as the availability of the inspectors.
If your plane falls under the part 91 operators, you will get an RVSM approval in the form of an automated Letter of Authorization (LOA). If it is within 135 operators, then approval will come as Operations Specifications (OPSPEC). It is important to note that the approval is not specific to any region and cannot expire once it is issued. However, it can become invalid if the operator fails to follow all the requirements stipulated in the approval document. You can check with a company like RVSM Solutions LLC. that specializes in compliance manuals to ensure the process goes smoothly.