Section 23. Traffic Management (TM) Support of Non-Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM) Aircraft


This section prescribes policies and guidelines for Traffic Management (TM) support of Non-Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM) Aircraft.


In accordance with 14 CFR Section 91.180, domestic RVSM airspace (FL 290-410) is exclusionary airspace. With only limited exceptions, all operators and individual aircraft must have received RVSM authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate at RVSM altitudes. If an aircraft or its operator has not been authorized for RVSM operation, the aircraft is referred to as a “non-RVSM” aircraft. Excepted non-RVSM aircraft are granted access to RVSM altitudes on a workload permitting basis. Priority in RVSM airspace is afforded to RVSM compliant flights, then file-and-fly flights.

  1. File-and-Fly. Operators of excepted non-RVSM flights requesting access to or through RVSM airspace will file a flight plan. This flight plan serves as the notification to the FAA of the operator's intent to request access to or through RVSM airspace.
  2. STORM Flight. A non-RVSM exception designated by the Department of Defense (DoD) for special consideration via the DoD Priority Mission website.
  3. Entry Facility. Facility where an aircraft penetrates RVSM airspace designated for U.S. air traffic control.
  4. RVSM Facility. Air Traffic facility that provides air traffic services in RVSM airspace.

Under the authority granted in 14 CFR Section 91.180, the Administrator has determined that the following groups of non-RVSM aircraft may enter RVSM airspace subject to FAA approval and clearance:

  1. Department of Defense aircraft;
  2. Foreign State (government) aircraft;
  3. Active air ambulance utilizing MEDEVAC call sign;
  4. Flights conducted for aircraft certification and development flights for RVSM.

Operators of excepted non-RVSM aircraft requesting access to DRVSM airspace have the following options available to them:

  1. Letter of Agreement/Memorandum of Understanding (LOA/MOU). Comply with a LOA/MOU for operations within a single or adjacent RVSM facility.
  2. File-and-Fly. File a flight plan and make the initial request to access RVSM airspace by requesting an ATC clearance.


Non-RVSM aircraft not listed under excepted flights may climb/descend through RVSM airspace without leveling off, subject to FAA approval and clearance.

  1. DoD. Enter STORM flights on the DoD Priority Mission website. For STORM flights that are within 60 minutes of departure notify the departure RVSM facility via telephone, in addition to entering the flight into the DoD Priority Mission website.


Special consideration will be afforded a STORM flight; however, accommodation of any non-RVSM exception flight is workload permitting.


Traffic Management Units (TMU) in facilities with RVSM airspace must:

  1. Monitor, assess, and act on the information in the Traffic Situation Display (TSD) to evaluate the facility's ability to manage non-RVSM aircraft;
  2. Coordinate calls from DoD operators of STORM flights that will depart within 60 minutes, with the appropriate area supervisor/controller-in-charge. Obtain and coordinate the following information:
  1. Call sign.
  2. Origination point.
  3. Proposed departure time.
  4. Number of aircraft in formation, when applicable.
  1. For a non-RVSM exception flight inbound to the U.S., the TMU at the entry facility receives the request for access to RVSM airspace directly from an international point of contact (POC). The TMU must coordinate the information received from the international POC with the appropriate operational supervisor/controller-in-charge in a timely manner.