Eurocontrol is intensifying its efforts to determine operators' plans for reduced vertical separation minima (RVSM) compliance and is increasing pressure on European states to meet their RVSM requirements.

RVSM is due to be implemented in European Civil Aviation Conference airspace on 24 January 2002, providing much-needed additional airspace capacity by creating six new flight levels between flight levels 290 and 410 through the reduction of vertical separation to 1,000ft (300m). Only aircraft with telemetry that meets certain accuracy requirements will be allowed at the RVSM levels.

While "good progress" has been made in many areas of the RVSM programme, Eurocontrol's provisional council is concerned that the lack of sufficient numbers of aircraft modified and approved for RVSM by next March could invalidate the RVSM safety case.

Eurocontrol is increasing efforts to contact operators through briefings, an RVSM user support cell and direct contact, says Joe Sultana, Eurocontrol's RVSM project manager. The air navigation organisation has not received approval plans for 40% of airframes. A package to support a final RVSM go-ahead decision will be presented to the council in July 2001.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of participating states are on schedule with their RVSM plans, although Eurocontrol is concerned that one-third still have outstanding issues to resolve. Air traffic control systems will require software upgrades to allow controllers to see RVSM aircraft.

Not all states have yet finalised contracts with software suppliers and there is concern that this could take some time, says Sultana.

The first height-measuring unit, which will gather data for the RVSM safety case, has been operational in Linz, Austria, since May.

A second, in Nattenheim, Germany, will come online in September, and the third, in Geneva, Switzerland, will be commissioned in October.

Source: Flight International