Step 1: Certifiable Aircraft
The first step to getting RVSM approval is identifying whether your airplane is equipped for RVSM flight operations. This can be done be either the airplane manufacturer when new, or it may have been upgraded via an STC (Supplemental Type Certificate), or had a SB (Service Bulletin) completed on the airplane.
Step 2: RVSM Manual and FAA Application
The second step is preparing an application package for submission to the FAA. Part of the application requires developing an RVSM Operations Manual and an RVSM Maintenance Program (only for 14 CFR 135 Operators). These manuals, along with supporting aircraft and pilot documentation must be submitted to the FAA for review.
Step 3: Pilot Training
The third step of the RVSM application process is providing proof of RVSM pilot training. For operators of single pilot rated airplanes, at least one pilot must have received RVSM training through an FAA accepted course. If the aircraft is dual-pilot rated, at least two pilots must have received such RVSM training. You can receive RVSM training at a Part 142 facility or others approved by the FAA either in person or online.
Step 4: FAA Review
After submitting a complete application package to the appropriate FAA office, the office manager or operations supervisor will assign an inspector to review the information submitted. An operations inspector will review the operations portion of the application, and an airworthiness inspector will review the maintenance portion (only for 14 CFR 135 Operators). As a general rule, the FAA has 60 business days to review an RVSM submission.
Step 5: FAA Approval
For 14 CFR 91 Operators, the FAA issues RVSM approval as an automated Letter of Authorization (LOA). 14 CFR 135 Operators will receive Operations Specifications (OP SPEC). RVSM approval is not region specific. FAA RVSM approval for an N-registered aircraft is valid for worldwide RVSM flight operations.
Step 6: Height Monitoring Flight
Within six months of RVSM approval, you must complete a height monitoring flight on your aircraft (unless one has already been completed). In the United States this is required every 2 years or 1000 flight hours, whichever is greater. The flight can either be an AGHME or GMU flight.
Step 7: Continuing Compliance
To ensure continued compliance with RVSM requirements, you’ll need to keep your RVSM manuals and FAA approval documentation onboard the aircraft. You must maintain your airplane in accordance with your RVSM manuals.