July 22, 2016

As of Aug. 19, business aircraft operators seeking authorization to fly in reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) airspace will no longer be required to develop a separate maintenance program for RVSM equipment, thanks to a recent rule change driven by NBAA’s ongoing collaboration with the FAA to simplify RVSM-approval compliance for the industry.

jet flying with clouds in background

Published in the Federal Register on July 19, the revision streamlines the approvals process by appropriately recognizing that maintenance of RVSM-related avionics and equipment is already covered by existing FAA airworthiness and maintenance requirements for the aircraft.

Review the final rule.

The original requirement for RVSM-specific maintenance programs stemmed from the low numbers of RVSM-equipped aircraft when the FAA first implemented these regulations nearly 20 years ago.

In discussions with the FAA beginning in 2008, NBAA noted numerous challenges with the RVSM authorization process. The proliferation of RVSM-compliant business aircraft in the years since has increased the collective resources expended by industry and the FAA to grant operators this authorization.

From those discussions, the RVSM Process Enhancement Team was formed to focus on these and other changes that could be accomplished without rulemaking. The team found that an RVSM maintenance program was a duplicate regulatory burden on applicants, as well as on the FAA to review and approve.

“We’re extremely pleased to see the FAA issue this final rule, which is the latest in a number of NBAA’s ongoing efforts to address operational concerns facing our members,” said Mark Larsen, NBAA senior manager of safety and flight operations. “NBAA thanks all of our members who engaged in the RVSM Process Enhancement team, and we greatly appreciate this and other collaborative opportunities with the FAA to address such issues.”

The FAA previously released enhanced RVSM authorization approval guidance for inspectors in July 2014; this final rule follows the release of a notice of proposed rulemaking in May 2015.

In the proposed rule, the FAA estimated the eased requirements would save operators approximately $14.1 million in the first year following adoption of the final rule, based on a published cost of $5,000 for operators to submit an RVSM maintenance program for FAA approval, and would free nearly 34,000 hours from FAA safety inspectors’ schedules.