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United States Department of TransportationUnited States Department of Transportation

Domestic Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (DRVSM)


Domestic Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (DRVSM) is a procedure that allows controllers to reduce the vertical separation between aircraft from 2,000 feet to 1,000 feet at altitudes between 29,000 and 41,000 feet . This will increase capacity and save money by allowing more planes to fly preferred altitudes and routes.

Since its implementation January 20, 2005, controller operational errors have declined by 28 percent in that airspace. Airlines are realizing significant decreases in fuel costs because planes are flying more efficient altitudes. DRVSM has reduced the number of conflicts—situations in which a controller orders a plane to move laterally or vertically.

  • DRVSM makes six additional flight levels available for operations between 29,000 and 41,000 feet.
  • DRVSM will provide user benefits in domestic U.S. operations that have been enjoyed since 1997 in other world airspaces.
  • DRVSM has been shown to:
    • Enhance aircraft operating efficiency by making more fuel/time efficient flight levels available;
    • Enhance air traffic control flexibility; and
    • Provide the potential for enhanced en route airspace capacity.



  • Estimated fuel savings benefits over 10 years: $5.3 billion
  • 6:1 benefit/cost ratio
  • $393 million first year savings, with 2.0 percent estimated annual increase
  • Greater availability of more fuel-efficient altitudes and routes
  • Increased probability that an aircraft will be cleared onto the desired route or altitude

National Airspace System Operations

  • Enhances air traffic control flexibility (e.g., routing around storms)
  • Mitigates conflict points
  • Enhances volume of aircraft that can be accommodated in a given sector (sector throughput)
  • Reduces controller workload (e.g., reduced vectoring and flight level changes)

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