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ADS-B Streamlines RVSM Operations

April 2019

Starting January 1, 2020, ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast)-Out is mandatory for aircraft flying in the majority of US airspace. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is in the process of streamlining RVSM (Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum) procedures and approvals for US operators equipped with ADS-B.

To make the connection between ADS-B and RVSM and how they interact, one must first understand what ADS-B does and does not do.

ADS-B does use surveillance technology and onboard equipment to determine an aircraft’s position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasting this information enabling the aircraft to be tracked.

ADS-B does not affect the aircraft or the way it flies.

The FAA recently issued Notice N8900.500 and Advisory Circular 91-85B allowing operators with ADS-B-equipped aircraft that meet altitude keeping equipment performance requirements to operate in US-controlled airspace without a specific RVSM authorization. RVSM operations outside of US-controlled airspace must still obtain OpSpec, MSpec, or LOA as currently issued under the provisions of Part 91, Appendix G.

As far as RVSM monitoring is concerned, aircraft with a qualified ADS-B system that meets the requirements of Section 91.227 are able to have height-keeping performance monitored at all RVSM altitudes where ADS-B coverage allows. All ADS-B-equipped aircraft will require RVSM monitoring every two years.

Completing RVSM Monitoring Requirements

After installing ADS-B equipment, operators should not assume they have completed all RVSM monitoring requirements. The final step is to have the equipment performance validated with the FAA. This reaffirms it is installed and broadcasting correctly.

Validating ADS-B performance can be accomplished by:

  1. After ADS-B installation and before the initial ADS-B RVSM flight
  1. After ADS-B-installation and AFTER initial ADS-B RVSM flight

Aircraft that are not ADS-B compliant can be monitored by the following:

  1. Fly over an AGHME location
  2. Schedule a GMU (GPS Monitoring Unit) flight
    • Duncan Aviation offers RVSM monitoring through GMU monitoring.
    • After ADS-B for RVSM is up and running, the FAA may reassess how many AGHME ground stations to keep operational and eventually phase out the GMU monitoring.

**Please note the NAARMO is not automatically processing ADS-B height-monitoring results unless requested.


Photo of Randy Dill Randy Dill RVSM GMU Flight Monitor Lincoln, NE (LNK) +1 402.475.2611 ext. 1449