In milestone, UN aviation agency reduces separation level on flight paths

28 November 2003

The United Nations aviation agency has achieved a milestone in air navigation history by reducing the minimum vertical separation between aircraft from 2,000 to 1,000 feet, allowing for increased route capacity and greater operational flexibility on major air traffic routes between Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM), achieved yesterday at 0200 UTC, “will generate considerable economic, environmental and passenger service benefits” the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said in a news release.

“This latest achievement is a significant step forward in ICAO’s global cooperative effort with its contracting states and airspace users to maximize operational benefits for all concerned, while at the same time ensuring that safety considerations are given the highest priority,” the president of the ICAO Council, Assad Kotaite, said.

RVSM improves the availability of more efficient cruising levels. “This leads to less air pollution because of reduced fuel burn and to fewer ground delays, in this case for flights on the Asia-Europe routes south of the Himalayas,” ICAO said. “It also provides for a more seamless transition through the airspace of the Middle East.”

RSVM is planned for the Caribbean/South American regions in conjunction with the United States in its domestic airspace with a target date of 20 January, 2005, while the next stage in the Asian region is being planned for Japan and the Republic of Korea in the second half of 2005.

 

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