Policy Letter 158



File Number

RDIMS No. 257485



Policy Statement

The purpose of this Policy Letter is to inform Inspectors of the planned implementation of southern domestic reduced vertical separation minimum (SDRVSM) and update the information on the requirements for approval to operate in reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) airspace.


This Policy Letter applies to all Commercial and Business Aviation (CBA) Inspectors involved in the authorization of RVSM operations for private operators and air operators (the operator).


The following references provide additional guidance and advisory material on operations in RVSM airspace:

  1. Part VI, subpart 4 and sections 721.08, 722.08, 723.08, 724.08 and 725.08 of the Commercial Air Service Standards (CASS); (Contents of a private or Air Operator Certificate - Navigation System Authorizations).

  2. Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) Canada, section Rules of the Air and Air Traffic Services (RAC).

  3. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Document 9574-AN934, Manual on the Implementation of a 300 m (1 000 ft) Vertical Separation Minimum Between Flight Level (FL) 290 and FL 410 inclusive.

  4. ICAO NAT DOC 001, Guidance and Information Material Concerning Air Navigation in the North Atlantic Region.

  5. North Atlantic Minimum Navigation Performance Specifications (MNPS) Airspace Operations Manual (9th Edition).

  6. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Interim Guidance Material on the Approval of Operators/Aircraft for RVSM Operations 91-RVSM Change 1.

  7. Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) Temporary Guidance Leaflet No. 6 (TGL 06) - Revision 1.

  8. ICAO Regional Supplementary Procedures (Document 7030/4).

  9. Commercial and Business Aviation Advisory Circular # 0226 entitles SDRVSM and RVSM Approval Process.


RVSM was implemented in Northern Canadian Airspace in April 2002. Further expansion of RVSM airspace is being planned as described below.

All operators intending to operate within RVSM airspace are required to be equipped with altimetry and height-keeping systems, which meet RVSM Minimum Aircraft System Performance Specifications (MASPS). Operators also require special authorization through an Operations Specification (Ops Spec) from the State of Registry of the aircraft, or the State of the Operator prior to operating within this airspace. Operators without this authorization are excluded from flying within RVSM airspace.

Introduction of RVSM in the United States and Southern Canada

The FAA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on May 10, 20023, announcing its intention to implement RVSM between FL 290 and FL 410 in all United States (US) domestic airspace (referred to as Domestic RVSM or DRVSM) in December 2004. This date has since been changed to January 20, 2005. Due to the airspace structure along the Canada/US border, it is essential that Canada and the US harmonize the implementation of RVSM. In order to accomplish this, Nav Canada announced on October 3, 2002, the initiation of the SDRVSM project.

The expansion of Canadian RVSM will occur concurrently with the implementation of DRVSM in US domestic airspace.


The process for obtaining authorization to operate in RVSM airspace requires coordination between the operator, Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA), the Principal Operations Inspector (POI), the Principal Maintenance Inspector (PMI), the operator's TCCA Regional Airworthiness office and TCCA Operational Standards.

Each individual aircraft shall meet the airworthiness standard with modifications and/or maintenance procedures established by the manufacturer for RVSM operations. Transport Canada (TC) Inspectors shall ensure the RVSM service bulletins (SB) have been reviewed and the amendments to the limitations section in the Aircraft Flight Manual (AFM) have been approved by TC Aircraft Certification. Refer to the appropriate Airworthiness Notices and Aircraft Certification Policy Letters (ACPL) for more information. ACPL 56 in particular refers to RVSM airworthiness approval. Amendments to an operator's maintenance program shall address the required verification/maintenance of RVSM performance and be approved by the Minister.

The operator's training program, operating practices and procedures, including Operational Control, shall be amended to include items necessary for safe operations in RVSM and be approved by the Minister.

Once the aircraft has met the airworthiness standard for RVSM operations, the operator shall take part in the RVSM Height-keeping Monitoring Program. Depending on the aircraft type, the initial requirement for the Height-keeping Monitoring Program can follow the RVSM authorization.

Once these steps have been completed, the Minister will issue an Ops Spec authorizing the operation of specified aircraft in RVSM airspace.

RVSM Approval Process

"FAA Document 91-RVSM - Interim Guidance Material on the approval of Operators/Aircraft for RVSM Operations" was written by the FAA and then adopted by ICAO for the use of all Member States (including Canada) in their authorization programs. Paragraph 722.08 (2)(d), 723.08 (2)(d), 724.08 (2)(d) and 725.08 (2)(d) of the CASS make specific reference to the document, as well as ICAO NAT DOC 001 for RVSM standards.

The following steps provide a brief outline of the process that should be followed by an operator seeking RVSM operational authorization, and the role of CBA Inspector in issuing the RVSM Ops Spec:

1. The operator determines the need to operate within an RVSM airspace region. Given the recent implementation of RVSM in Northern Canada and Europe, and the plans to implement RVSM in the US and southern Canada by January 2005the end of 2004, it is expected that most operators of jet aircraft will need RVSM authorization, before January 20, 2005.

2. The operator determines the suitability of their aircraft type(s) for RVSM approval. This may be accomplished by contacting the aircraft manufacturer or the TCCA Regional Airworthiness office.

New aircraft types are typically delivered from the manufacturer configured for RVSM operations. Most other aircraft types can be modified for RVSM operations by incorporating the provisions prescribed in a SB issued for that purpose. Refer to "Aircraft Engineering Packages" on the following website: http://www.faa.gov/ to determine the availability of an SB for a particular aircraft. Contact points for most aircraft manufacturers are listed on the same web page under "contact points". Certain older types such as the HS 125 series 1 through 600 are not expected to be eligible for RVSM approval, although this may change if there is sufficient demand to develop a SB..

The operator should arrange to have the SB completed (if required) on his/her aircraft as early in the approval process as possible since the approval of an individual aircraft is dependent on it being in compliance with the RVSM airworthiness requirements.

Both the operator and the TCCA Inspector shall be familiar with the AFM amendments and the content of the SB for the aircraft types for which an operator is seeking approval for RVSM operations. These AFM amendments and SB are issued by aircraft manufacturers and describe the requirements that must be fulfilled for RVSM approval on a particular type.

The AFM amendments may contain operational restrictions such as maximum or minimum airspeed/mach during flight in RVSM airspace, use of air data computers/transponders, or a maximum operating altitude or weight. Any operational restrictions should be adequately addressed in the Operations Manual, Training Programs, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Minimum Equipment Lists (MEL) and related documentation. The POI will consult with the TCCA Regional Airworthiness office that oversees the operator's maintenance program to confirm that the RVSM SB has been complied with and obtain the date of compliance.

In addition, the POI will confirm that TCCA Aircraft Certification has approved the manufacturer's AFM amendment for the use in Canada before granting an operator RVSM authorization.

3. The operator develops a training program for flight crew and maintenance personnel. Information on the training requirements can be found in Appendix 4 of FAA Document 91-RVSM. Amendments to the Company Operations Manual (COM), Operational Control, SOPs, Checklists and Maintenance Control Manual (MCM) are required. The aircraft MEL shall be amended in accordance with the approved Master Minimum Equipment List supplement for RVSM operations.

Additional training is required for specific areas of RVSM operations that are new to the operator or crewmember. Appendix 5 of FAA Document 91-RVSM deals with specific procedures for oceanic airspace. For operator planning to fly in European RVSM airspace, the JAA TGL 06 (which can be found at http://www.ecacnav.com/rvsm/library.htm), will provide information on training issues that may be unique to European airspace. ICAO document 7030 provides details on procedures for various international airspace areas. It is the responsibility of the operator to ensure that their flight crews are properly trained for the intended area(s) of operation.

RVSM exclusionary airspace has been, or is being introduced into several regions other than Canada. The technical height-keeping requirements of these areas remain essentially the same. It is intended that an RVSM approval for one area will provide RVSM technical height-keeping approval to operate at RVSM altitudes within other RVSM areas; however, this does not necessarily provide approval to fly in that airspace if other conditions must be met (e.g. NAT-MNPS or Required Navigation Performance (RNP-10)). The Pilot-in-Command is responsible for the operation of the aircraft and must therefore comply with the policies and procedures applicable to each area of operations.

The list below provides the minimum training requirements for RVSM approved flight crew. It is also intended to show those subjects on which an operator must be informed prior to conducting a flight in a new area of RVSM operations:

  1. Floor, ceiling and horizontal boundaries of RVSM airspace;

  2. Policy on exclusion of aircraft not RVSM approved;

  3. Pilot procedures:

    1. Special procedures for in-flight contingencies;

    2. Weather deviation procedures;

    3. Track offset procedures for wake turbulence and nuisance aircraft system alerts;

    4. Pilot level-off call;

  4. Procedures for flight of non-RVSM approved aircraft for maintenance, humanitarian and delivery flights.

  5. Use of Airborne Collision Avoidance System/Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System.

4. At least ninety days in advance of planned RVSM operations:

  1. The operator coordinates with TCCA Regional Airworthiness office to obtain Airworthiness approval of their aircraft. Refer to ACPL 056 (reference document 4) paragraph 6.0 for further details on this process. The documentation obtained in step 2 above should be included.

  2. The operator submits his training program, amended COM, SOPs, amended MEL and MCM to his POI and PMI. The POI/PMI review the training program and manuals for appropriate information based on area(s) of intended operation.

  3. The operator arranges for height-keeping monitoring of aircraft. The requirements for height-keeping monitoring are dependant on several factors, such as type(s) of aircraft being used, area(s) of operation and previous RVSM experience. The monitoring requirements for aircraft planning to operate in North American airspace where RVSM is in effect are available on the following website: http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/separation_standards/naarmo/

Depending on the aircraft type, the initial requirement for the height monitoring can follow RVSM authorization as discussed below.=

RVSM Height-keeping Monitoring Program

It is important to note that monitoring requirements are operator and type specific. Previous height-keeping monitoring of an aircraft under a different operating certificate does not count towards the monitoring requirements for a new operator. It is also critical to note that height-keeping monitoring events prior to the RVSM airworthiness approval being signed off will not be accepted by the monitoring agencies.

Height-keeping monitoring is required prior to RVSM authorization in certain regions where the regional monitoring agency has insufficient data on the aircraft type or for a new aircraft type produced by a manufacturer without a demonstrable track record of production of MASPS compliant airframes. Typically, the monitoring requirements are 60% of the operator's fleet for a specific aircraft type.

Height-keeping monitoring is not required prior to RVSM authorization once the monitoring agency has observed a sufficient percentage of the world's fleet of a particular type, with satisfactory results. The monitoring requirements for individual operators vary depending on the intended area of operations. Operational authorization can be granted prior to height-keeping monitoring, provided the aircraft is in the category that has had sufficient height monitoring data previously collected. In this case, height-keeping monitoring is required not later than six months after issue of RVSM authorization. Height-keeping monitoring methods are described in the RAC section of the AIP Canada.

There are two methods available for height monitoring:

  1. Aircraft may overfly a Height Monitoring Unit (HMU), located at Gander, Newfoundland. The procedures for height-keeping monitoring are described in the AIP Canada, paragraph 11.23.6 of the RAC section, as well as subparagraphs 12.16.8 and 12.16.9 of the same section. Additional HMUs are expected to become available in late 2004 and will be located near Ottawa, Ontario and Lethbridge, Alberta.

  2. The second method is to use a Global Positioning System (GPS) Monitoring Unit, (GMU). GMU service is provided by two commercial operations, CSSI Inc. and Aeronautical Radio, Incorporated (ARINC). Information on how to arrange for height-keeping monitoring with a GMU is available in the AIP Canada, paragraph 12.16.9 of the RAC section or on the following websites: http://www.arinc.com/products/rvsm/ or http://www.rvsm-monitoring.com/.

Height-keeping monitoring requirements for various regions may be found at the following website: http://www.faa.gov/.

RVSM Database Information

The following information is required for each aircraft that is approved for RVSM operations. This information shall be forwarded by the Regional Certification Office to Certification Standards where it will be added to the Canadian RVSM database. The Certification Office should forward preliminary information as soon as the operator makes application for RVSM authorization. Additional information is to be sent as the steps are completed. This database is distributed to monitoring agencies around the world.

  1. State of Registry of the Aircraft (e.g. Canada);

  2. Operator (e.g. Air Canada, include three letter ICAO designator);

  3. State of Operator (e.g. Canada);

  4. Aircraft type (IACO Aircraft Type designation e.g. A310);

  5. Aircraft mark/series (e.g. - 300);

  6. Manufacturer's serial/construction number;

  7. Registration (e.g. C-FXXX);

  8. Aircraft mode S address code in hexadecimal format (e.g. C01234A);

  9. Date aircraft SB completed;

  10. Date at which the Airworthiness Approval was issued; (e.g. the date the aircraft is certified as having been modified in accordance with the relevant approval documentation (SB or Supplemental Type Certificate (STC)) and is therefore eligible for monitoring. The date of issue of such approval should coincide with the date on which the modification was certified by the operator as being complete;

  11. Date of Airborne Flight Monitor (this may be sent later depending on the requirement due to aircraft type or if required); and

  12. Date of RVSM approval (e.g. the date Ops Spec issued).

Operations Specification For Operations In RVSM Airspace

Before issuing an Ops Spec, the Regional Certification Office will confirm with the POI and PMI that both the operator's operational and maintenance programs have been approved for RVSM. The RVSM Ops Spec shall identify the aircraft types and the individual aircraft by registration. Immediately after the issuance of an Ops Spec or addition of an aircraft to an existing Ops Spec, the registration of each aircraft and the date of the authorization shall be sent to Certification Standards to update the Canadian RVSM database as discussed above.

Removal of RVSM Authorization

RVSM approved aircraft that are removed from the operator's Operating Certificate, or lose their RVSM approval for any reason, must be reported by the Regional Certification Office, to Certification Standards immediately in order to maintain the accuracy of the RVSM database.

Reference Documents For Area Specific Policy/Procedures

  1. Canada: Refer to the AIP Canada, paragraph 12.16 of the RAC section
  2. North Atlantic region:
    1. North Atlantic MNPS Manual (9th edition) can be downloaded from the North Atlantic Programme Coordination Office (NAT PCO) website at the following address: http://www.nat-pco.org/;
    2. AIP Canada, paragraph 11.23 of the RAC section;
    3. FAA Domestic/International Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) Book can be downloaded from the following website: http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/notices/;
  3. West Atlantic Route System (WATRS): Information on the WATRS area is published on the FAA RVSM website at the following address: http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ato/service_units/enroute/rvsm/watrs/
  4. Pacific region:
    1. Paper entitled "Pacific RVSM: Operational Policy/Procedures" is published on the FAA RVSM website "RVSM Documentation, Pacific" section. The paper discusses the content of an FAA NOTAM on the subject, as well a Pacific State AIP providing policy/procedures. This website can be found at the following address: http://www.faa.gov/;
    2. Regional ICAO procedures for the Pacific are contained in ICAO Document 7030/4, Regional Supplementary procedures;
  5. Europe:
  6. http://www.ecacnav.com/rvsm/default.htm
    1. JAA TGL 06 - Revision 1 can be downloaded from the European RVSM website at the following address:
    2. ICAO Document 7030/4 Regional Supplementary procedures.


For additional information on RVSM authorization, contact CBA, Operational Standards at (613) 990-1868.

Future Disposition

This Policy Letter will remain in effect until it is replaced by revised information or until further notice.

Reference Number

This Policy Letter is designated AARX No. 158.

Michel Gaudreau
Commercial & Business Aviation

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