...Thousands Still Not In Compliance

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As many as 1,600 to 2,000 bizjets were estimated to be not in compliance as of the deadline, according to Paul Clouse, director of RVSM Operations at ARINC, and many are still in the works. ARINC has been working as a consultant to operators, helping to lead them through the complex authorization process. "We are quite busy with height monitoring [a 30-minute in-flight test to verify that instrument error is within limits], Letter of Authorization packages, and RVSM modifications, at our facilities in Colorado Springs and Scottsdale, Ariz.," Clouse told AVweb on Tuesday. Some operators have been waiting for the rush to subside in hopes of bargaining for a lower price; others had delayed on a gamble that the FAA wouldn't make its deadline. And some operators have had to give up on flying in RVSM altitudes due to the cost of making older aircraft compliant.

Newer jets that have been built in the last few years, or are now in production, are coming from the factory with all the necessary RVSM equipment included. However, they still must go through the FAA authorization process, which not only certifies that the airplane is compliant, but also that the operator is qualified. If the aircraft is sold, the new owners must get a new Letter of Authorization from the FAA. With thousands of very light jets in production -- Eclipse alone says it has over 2,000 orders -- plus the usual crop of bizjets and turboprops, that should keep the RVSM consultants busy for a while yet. Eclipse, at its Web site, describes the typical trip profile for an Eclipse 500 jet as a cruising altitude of 41,000 feet for a 1,200-nm trip, or 35,000 feet when flying 500 nm.