The requirements for maintaining the special equipment (and standard equipment) associated with an RVSM installation are really much more straight-forward than you may think. In this issue we will outline and walk through how the requirements are established and the rules that govern RVSM equipment inspection and maintenance requirements.
Let's begin by taking a look at the regulation written to facilitate operations under RVSM.
We begin with 14 CFR Part 91.706 -- "Operations within airspace designated as Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum Airspace". The rule states:
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate a civil aircraft of U.S. registry in airspace designated as Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) airspace unless:(1) The operator and the operator's aircraft comply with the requirements of Appendix G of this part; and(2) The operator is authorized by the Administrator to conduct such operations.(b) The Administrator may authorize a deviation from the requirements of this section in accordance with Section 5 of Appendix G to this part.
Simply put. In order to operate your aircraft in RVSM airspace, both the operator and the aircraft itself must conform to the requirements contained in 14 CFR Part 91 Appendix G. Following the trail, we find ourselves at 14 CFR Part 91 Appendix G looking for something a little more concise.
14 CFR Part 91 Appendix G is titled "Operations in Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) Airspace". There are eight sections to Appendix G.
Section 1. Definitions
Section 2. Aircraft Approval
Section 3. Operator Authorization
Section 4. RVSM Operations
Section 5. Deviation Authority Approval
Section 6. Reporting Altitude-Keeping Errors
Section 7. Removal or Amendment of Authority
Section 8. Airspace Designation
Obviously, each section has its own purpose. Let's dig in to and focus on the two sections that will answer the question "What does it take to get certified and stay certified to fly under RVSM?"
"Section 2. Aircraft Approval" basically tells us that the aircraft can be approved for RVSM operations if the "Administrator" (your local FAA inspector) is provided and finds acceptable an RVSM package prepared by the operator and the aircraft has installed all of the RVSM required equipment (also listed in Section 2). I don't want to list all of the required equipment here as you can peruse that at your leisure -- See 14 CFR Part 91 Appendix G.
The pertinent part of the requirements contained in Section 2 that often is slipped right past during this research is the requirement for the data package to be prepared by the operator and provided to the FAA. The package must include "(3) Documentation that establishes compliance with the applicable RVSM aircraft requirements of this section." What this means is documentation of the RVSM installation and the applicable maintenance requirements for that installation.
Documentation of the installation is the certification from the manufacturer that the aircraft meets the RVSM requirements (if delivered RVSM ready) or an FAA Form 337 that explains the installation of the RVSM equipment.
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