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Operational Error in European RVSM Airspace

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Article Information
Category: Safety Alert Safety Alerts
Content source: EUROCONTROL Safety Alerts EUROCONTROL
Content control: EUROCONTROL EUROCONTROL

Safety Reminder Message

Operational Error in European RVSM Airspace

Date: 11 February 2008 Safety Reminder Message.gif

Increase in Operational Errors

The 2007 European Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM) Safety Monitoring Report confirmed a continued increase in operational errors involving aircraft which operated at incorrect flight levels. An increase in operational errors increases the risk of collision between aircraft. Reported errors included erroneous actions by ATC and flight crews, and incorrect flight planning by Aircraft Operators.

Operational Errors by ATC and Flight Crews

  • ATC clearance to incorrect flight level.
  • Failure by ATC to detect and correct erroneous read-back of clearances from flight crews.
  • ATC clearance to non-RVSM approved civil aircraft to operate in European RVSM airspace.
  • Climb/descent without ATC clearance.
  • Climb/descent based on an ATC clearance issued to another aircraft.
  • Failure to climb/descend as cleared by ATC (including level busts).
  • Altitude insertion errors.

Flight Planning Errors by Aircraft Operators

  • Insertion of the letter W in Item 10 of the ICAO flight plan form for non-RVSM approved civil aircraft planning to operate in RVSM airspace.
  • Insertion of the letter W in Item 10 of the ICAO flight plan form for a number of military type aircraft, for which there is no known RVSM compliance method, planning to operate in RVSM airspace.

States and Air Navigation Service Providers are reminded to ensure

  • Operational personnel are alerted to the increase in the estimated risk of collision in European RVSM airspace due to a continued increase in operational errors.
  • The importance of vigilance with regards to the issuance of ATC clearances involving change of flight level and flight crew read-back of such clearances is stressed.
  • Except for operations within RVSM transition airspace, non-RVSM approved civil aircraft are not cleared into European RVSM airspace.
  • Measures are in place to facilitate the early detection of any trends adverse to the safety of aircraft operating in RVSM airspace and the development and implementation of appropriate mitigations aimed at reducing operational risk, and that all factors that contribute to the operational errors in RVSM airspace are addressed.
  • Losses of separation and deviations of 300 feet or more from the cleared flight level involving aircraft operating in RVSM airspace, as well as incorrect insertions of the letter W in Item 10 of the ICAO flight plan form for non-RVSM approved civil and State aircraft planning to operate in RVSM airspace, are reported to the European Regional Monitoring Agency.

Aircraft Operators are reminded to ensure

  • Operational personnel are alerted to the increase in the estimated risk of collision in European RVSM airspace due to a continued increase in operational errors.
  • The importance of flight crew validation of ATC clearances involving change of flight level before commencing climb or descent, and correct altitude insertion, is stressed.
  • Flight crews adhere to the operating practices and procedures, as specified by ICAO and Joint Aviation Authorities Administrative and Guidance Material, Section One: General, Part 3: Temporary Guidance Leaflet No. 6, Revision 1.
  • Flight plans are filed in accordance with the flight plan requirements for RVSM airspace as specified in the ICAO Regional Supplementary Procedures for Europe (Doc 7030).
  • Flight rules, flight plan requirements, ATC/pilot procedures and phraseologies applicable to European RVSM airspace are posted on the EUROCONTROL Navigation Domain website.

Disclaimer

© European Organisation for Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL) February 2008. This alert is published by EUROCONTROL for information purposes. It may be copied in whole or in part, provided that EUROCONTROL is mentioned as the source and to the extent justified by the non-commercial use (not for sale). The information in this document may not be modified without prior written permission from EUROCONTROL. The use of the document is at the user’s sole risk and responsibility. EUROCONTROL expressly disclaim any and all warranties with respect to any content within the alert, express or implied.