A Complete Manual for Conducting International Flight Operations

RVSM Operations

RVSM Operations

 International RVSM procedures for crewmembers do not change significantly from domestic RVSM procedures, but there are several important points of note.


International RVSM Considerations

1. RVSM Approval

5. RVSM Contingencies

All flights within RVSM must have the approval of either the State of Registry or the State of Operator. For a Part 91 Operator this would be in the form of an LOA, or for a Part 135 Operator this would be in the form of Operations Specifications. In order to be RVSM compliant the aircraft must be listed on the Operations Specifications. Aircraft with pink temporary registration certificates will not be RVSM compliant until added to the Operations Specifications. For operations in the North Atlantic, exceptions may be granted if the aircraft is on a delivery flight, or was RVSM approved but has suffered an equipment failure and is being returned to its base, or is on a mercy or humanitarian flight.

2. Altimetry System Serviceability

The serviceability of the altimetry system must be determined prior to entry into oceanic airspace, and it must be determined that the altimeters agree within plus or minus 200 feet. For crewmembers, the RVSM accuracy check shall be conducted on the appropriate leg sheet prior to entry into oceanic airspace.

3. Standard Equipment Requirements

 The standard equipment requirements also apply which consist of dual independent altimetry systems with cross coupled static sources, an altitude alerter, which alerts the flight crew of altitude deviations greater than 200 feet, a transponder and an autopilot. All systems must be operational. An RVSM check shall also be conducted at one hour intervals within oceanic airspace. It is recommended that crewmembers log all RVSM checks in order to document the established flight level should a height keeping discrepancy occur.

Should a contingency develop while in RVSM airspace, the following shall apply: The pilot shall notify ATC of contingencies (aircraft system failures, weather conditions, etc.) which affect the ability to maintain the CFL and coordinate a plan of action.

Equipment failures that shall be reported to ATC include, but are not limited to, the following:


    •  Maintain cleared flight level.
    •  Evaluate ability to maintain altitude manually.
    •  Watch for conflicting traffic.
    •  If necessary, Alert nearby traffic.
    •  Notify ATC of failure and intended course of action.
    •  Consider possibility of leaving RVSM airspace.

    • If remaining altimetry system is functioning normally, couple that system to the automatic control system and notify ATC of loss of redundancy.
    • Switch transponder to active altimetry system.



    • Watch for conflicting traffic and make maximum use of exterior lights.
    • Broadcast call sign, position, flight level, nature and severity of turbulence, and intentions to ATC on current frequency as well as 121.5 MHz.
    • Notify ATC and request flight level change if possible and / or necessary.
    • Consider other contingency procedures if unable to maintain flight level.

If  receiving a clearance is not possible prior to deviating, the flight crew shall proceed as follows: maintain the cleared flight level to the extent possible while evaluating the situation; watch for conflicting traffic both visually and by reference to TCAS; alert nearby aircraft by illuminating exterior lights (commensurate with aircraft limitations); and broadcasting intentions on 121.5.

4. Height Keeping Errors

Should a height keeping error of 300 feet or greater occur, a deviation report must be filed, and the ATS provider will follow-up with the aircraft operator or State of Registry.


Revision date: July 29, 2015

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