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The RVSM airspace (RVSM = Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum ; German : reduced vertical separation ) is a definition of the minimum vertical distance between airways and aircraft. It was introduced on January 24, 2002 as a result of the increasingly dense air traffic over Europe. RVSM was previously used over the Atlantic . It is now also being used in the US and Canada to accommodate more aircraft on the airways.

RVSM is used at altitudes from 29,000 feet to 41,000 feet. Here, aircraft used to be staggered with a vertical distance of 2,000 feet from one another. With RVSM this has been brought down to 1,000 feet (approx. 300 m). In the airspace below 29,000 feet, flights have always been flown at 1,000 feet. Above 41,000 feet, 2,000 feet are still used as vertical spacing.

The use of the autopilot is essential during the flight in RVSM airspace.

To fly in the RVSM, certain equipment is required that allows the autopilot to display the information accurately enough and to maintain the flight altitude with sufficient accuracy. The requirements for flying into RVSM airspaces are:

  • two independent altimeters ,
  • a device that triggers an alarm when the specified altitude is exceeded,
  • an autopilot that can maintain altitude to within 20 feet
  • an autothrottle that can keep the speed at 2 kts
  • a transponder with height transmission and connection to the height measuring device (transponder mode C / S)