NAT FAQ: No RVSM – Where can we go?

By Mark Zee


No RVSM – Where can we go?
  • You can make a crossing at FL280 or below, or FL430 or above
  • You can briefly enter RVSM airspace to climb/descend to your cruise level
  • You might get approval if on delivery flight, or ferry flight to repair.

Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM) is required throughout the NAT region. RVSM applies between FL290 and FL410, which matches the dimensions of the NAT HLA (FL285-FL420).

Without RVSM, you can only cruise at a level outside the FL290-FL410 band. However, ATC will generally approve a climb/descent through RVSM airspace to reach your cruising level. This is different to Europe, where you can’t do this.

ATC may approve you to fly within RVSM airspace [NAT Doc 007, 1.6], if you:

1. Are a delivery flight, or
2. Did have RVSM approval but returning for repairs, or
3. Humanitarian.

Contact the first Oceanic Centre by phone 4-12 hours before you plan to enter. If you get approval, note it in Field 18 on the Flight Plan. (eg. RMK/NON-RVSM APPROVED BY GANDER 23MAR2024). HLA approval is required in all cases. Use the call “Negative RVSM” on initial contact with ATC.


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Mark Zee

Mark Zee

Founder of OPSGROUP, and a former airline pilot, ATCO and flight dispatcher. Based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Email me at

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