EUROCONTROL celebrates the 10th anniversary of RVSM

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) programme, one of the most important air traffic management projects Europe has ever seen.
On 24 January 2002, at 01:00 UTC, 6,000 air traffic controllers in 41 States allocated aircraft to 6 new flight levels: from one minute to the next, aircraft were safely separated by 1,000 feet instead of 2,000.

With the implementation of RVSM, Europes upper airspace capacity grew by 25%, by providing six extra flight levels between 29,000 feet and 41,000 feet bringing the total to thirteen. It helped airlines and other airspace users meet rising demand more effectively and simultaneously make substantial fuel savings.The average yearly cost benefits for aircraft operators were estimated at around €3.9 billion and savings mainly derived from reductions in delay and fuel consumption.It also delivered significant environmental benefits with a reduction of 3,500 tons NOx per year.

By reducing the number of aircraft sharing a given flight level, this change not only enhanced safety, by allowing more aircraft to operate at their preferred flight levels, but it also underpinned better en-route performance, reduced delays, lowered fuel consumption and boosted capacity, says Joe Sultana, Chief Operating Officer of EUROCONTROLs Network Management Directorate.

RVSM was first introduced over the North Atlantic and then in Europes busy continental airspace.North America and other regions followed and the last regional implementation took place on 17 November 2011 in the Russian Federation and other Eurasian States.RVSM is the result of feasibility studies and technical investigations which took several decades and which were followed by a dedicated implementation programme that lasted a full three years. RVSM, launched on budget and on schedule, was a unique milestone in history for all European airspace stakeholders, adds Joe Sultana.

RVSM won both Janes ATC Award and the Flight International Aerospace Industry Award for the role it played in expanding capacity, reducing congestion and enhancing safety. These awards were a testament to the crucial role that EUROCONTROL can play in the management and coordination of complex pan-European programmes. In many ways, through RVSM, EUROCONTROL foreshadowed the role it would take on as Network Manager ten years later, concludes Jacques Dopagne, EUROCONTROL Director Network Management.


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