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RVSM 14 CFR 91.179


Jon Wilder 1268033
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When flying on the VATSIM server in RVSM airspace (FL290-FL410), are the RVSM rules stated in 14 CFR 91.179 enforced?

 

I was flying on airway J80 from KDEN to KBWI at a heading of 095 at FL370. Another pilot was flying on airway J80 as well, to KMCI at a heading of 275, also at FL370! According to 14 CFR 91.179 (b) subsection 4 (RVSM rules), FL360 or FL380 would have been valid for his heading. Not FL370.

 

I had to dodge him really quick to prevent crashing into him.

 

Several attempts were made to contact him, through private message as well as text and voice UNICOM, to inform him that he was at the incorrect flight level for his heading according to the RVSM rules set forth in 14 CFR 91.179. He did not respond nor did he modify his flight level, so I can only [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume that he's not even monitoring UNICOM and/or he's someone who's just gonna fly by his own rules.

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Hi Jon,

 

1. here on VATSIM we are a little bit like the UK parliament: We don't name people publicly - at least not in a negative aspect - and we also don't describe them in a way that makes them easy to identify (things like the callsign, especially when combined with the route). If you think you need to report a fellow member, you can send it to the VATSIM supervisors if it is about the Rules or Division/vACC/vARTCC/FIR-staff if it relates to ATC operations. In your case, you could have used a ".wallop" to report a pilot that is not responding and causing a conflict. A supervisor could have investigated the issue, if he is monitoring UNICOM or not or if he is just taken a short break, which is allowed by the CoC.

 

2. Yes, most RVSM airspaces use the east/west rule to define the level, however, there are some exceptions like Italy with North/South rule and even some airways with different rules, because it fits the traffic better. I cannot tell you if that is the case with J80. Flight planning is really complicated and sometimes people do mistakes. I hope your flight was still a great experience.

| Enroute Controller |

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Hey mate. If your aircraft is RVSM approved, seperation is reduced to 1000 ft.

I cannot actually see your screenshot so have not much idea of what would be going on.

Thanks, Tristan.

 

I'm an avionics technician in the real world so I'm very aware of what RVSM is. I was flying an A320 so no doubt it's RVSM approved.

 

The long and short of it was that he was flying at the same flight level that I was while we were flying the same airway in opposite directions. My flight level was valid for my heading range (FL370 for a heading of 095) while his flight level was invalid for his heading (FL370 for a heading of 275). We almost collided head on because of him flying my flight level, which was invalid for his heading (he should've been at either FL360 or FL380, which would have satisfied the 1,000' vertical seperation minima).

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Hi Jon,

 

1. here on VATSIM we are a little bit like the UK parliament: We don't name people publicly - at least not in a negative aspect - and we also don't describe them in a way that makes them easy to identify (things like the callsign, especially when combined with the route). If you think you need to report a fellow member, you can send it to the VATSIM supervisors if it is about the Rules or Division/vACC/vARTCC/FIR-staff if it relates to ATC operations. In your case, you could have used a ".wallop" to report a pilot that is not responding and causing a conflict. A supervisor could have investigated the issue, if he is monitoring UNICOM or not or if he is just taken a short break, which is allowed by the CoC.

 

2. Yes, most RVSM airspaces use the east/west rule to define the level, however, there are some exceptions like Italy with North/South rule and even some airways with different rules, because it fits the traffic better. I cannot tell you if that is the case with J80. Flight planning is really complicated and sometimes people do mistakes. I hope your flight was still a great experience.

 

I've removed his call sign and VATSIM ID from my post. I wasn't aware of the .wallop chat feature so I will use that in the future.

 

The flights were in the US so east/west rule applies.

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  • Board of Governors

Hi Jon,

 

Just to add to what others have said -- I think it's important to remember that although VATSIM obviously aims to mimic real-world operations, airspace structure and local regulations etc, unlike the real world most VATSIM pilots will not have p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed an exam in Air Law and therefore may not necessarily be aware of some of these things -- there's also quite a variance in terms of flight planning software etc.

 

Sounds like the chap in question had wandered away from his PC in the cruise... unfortunate but not a lot that can be done sadly!

Vice President, Pilot Training

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Hi Jon, unlike the real world, we don’t have a ‘air services’ or ‘faa’ type body. Some would say thank god. Different area on VATSIM do try their best to make themselves fully compliant, HOWEVER on VATSIM members only have the Code of Conduct, etc that we must comply with.

 

Generically the only matter that could fit your situation is that a supervisor could interpret either of you impacted the others enjoyment of the network. It is critical; in my opinion; that we remember that this isn’t real life and therefore few have any real world qualification, so FAA rules have possibly never been read let alone heard of.

 

Unfortunately we often do not have 24/7 ATC services in airspace that experienced members may expect to have in real world.

 

What I think this means, is that pilots will always have to use their smarts, and treat non-atc situations as VFR see and avoid. All this must be considered knowing that the rules allow anyone to leave their ‘flight deck’ for periods not exceeding 30min.

 

It is great to have posts like yours, because it does help others to learn.

Sean

C1/O P3

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When you're operating on VATSIM in areas that would ordinarily be ATC-staffed but are not, you have to suspend a bit of reality. There will be unrealistic situations along the way you are bound to encounter, and pilots that have a VERY wide variance of (a) ability and (b) desire to follow procedures. Here's what you do: (1) do your best to handle it as you would in the real world, or as closely as you can given the limitations of the network; then (2) take a deep breath and remember that no lives are at stake if you or someone else messes up.

 

A .wallop is helpful when you encounter a pilot who is operating outside the Code of Conduct and/or being a disruption, but, just know that there's not too much recourse if they just happened to be at the wrong Flight Level and stepped out of the cockpit to use the little pilots' room and/or grab a beer.

Cheers,

-R.

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Just simply being an A320 does not make it RVSM capable.

 

Also, aircraft will fly at inappropriate altitudes for a variety of reasons...traffic or for traffic flow.

 

I'm aware of this as the aircraft needs to be certified for RVSM with a full pitot/static test. The tolerances for an RVSM pitot/static test are much tighter, and even the skin of the aircraft around the static port is checked for excess ripple, the flushness of the static port flange vs aircraft skin, etc.

 

Most commercial jets such as the A320 are RVSM certified.

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Just simply being an A320 does not make it RVSM capable.

 

Also, aircraft will fly at inappropriate altitudes for a variety of reasons...traffic or for traffic flow.

 

I'm aware of this as the aircraft needs to be certified for RVSM with an annual RVSM pitot/static test. The tolerances for an RVSM pitot/static test are much tighter, and even the skin of the aircraft around the static port is checked for excess ripple, the flushness of the static port flange vs aircraft skin, etc.

 

Most commercial jets such as the A320 are RVSM certified.

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Just simply being an A320 does not make it RVSM capable.

 

Also, aircraft will fly at inappropriate altitudes for a variety of reasons...traffic or for traffic flow.

 

I'm aware of this as the aircraft needs to be certified for RVSM with an annual RVSM pitot/static test. The tolerances for an RVSM pitot/static test are much tighter, and even the skin of the aircraft around the static port is checked for excess ripple, the flushness of the static port flange vs aircraft skin, etc.

 

Most commercial jets such as the A320 are RVSM certified.

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Hey mate. If your aircraft is RVSM approved, seperation is reduced to 1000 ft.

I cannot actually see your screenshot so have not much idea of what would be going on.

Thanks, Tristan.

 

I'm an avionics technician in the real world so I'm very aware of what RVSM is. I was flying an A320 so no doubt it's RVSM approved.

 

The long and short of it was that he was flying at the same flight level that I was while we were flying the same airway in opposite directions. My flight level was valid for my heading range (FL370 for a heading of 095) while his flight level was invalid for his heading (FL370 for a heading of 275). We almost collided head on because of him flying my flight level, which was invalid for his heading (he should've been at either FL360 or FL380, which would have satisfied the 1,000' vertical seperation minima).

 

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of being on a short KLAX-KLAS run with UAL, in an A320. That flight was equipped with Ch. 9, so I spent the entire time listening to ATC. For some strange reason, we were given a final altitude of FL320, which like you, I thought was weird because even with dRVSM, it went against NEODD/SWEVEN.

 

So when we landed, I explained who I was, especially in relation to VATSIM (Which UAL knew about at the time, and sponsored a VA), and asked the question as to why we were given a WAFDOF altitude. Their response was that "the airway was available, as no-one was using it."

 

See, the problem this flight had, which also is being so myopic that we don't see the big picture, is that there may be too much traffic at that particular altitude for that direction of flight, can't find a window to break through to get to a higher altitude for that same direction of flight, and if there is a window, may be outside the ceiling of the aircraft. In my case, the airways were packed from FL250 eastbound up to FL410. No-one in the area for my flight was using FL320, regardless of direction, so ATC [Mod - Happy Thoughts]igned us that altitude.

 

My point here: just because someone is flying at a given altitude that goes against 91.179 doesn't mean that there isn't a valid reason for it, and perhaps looking at the bigger picture may give you insights as to why.

 

BL.

Edited by Guest

Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

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It is going to happen.

 

Even if we all complied with the laws of real world, what about converging flights, as opposed to reciprocal. We could have aircraft heading West at same altitude on a converging track. I think there will always be conflict, hence why we have atc in the real world.

 

I believe that without ATC online we need to treat things as VFR - see and avoid. OR simply pretend the other aircraft isn’t there, and hope you have crash detection turned off.

Sean

C1/O P3

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I had to dodge him really quick to prevent crashing into him.

 

You just have to avoid traffic. Don't [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume it's the other aircraft's responsibility. What do you do if you are both converging on a VOR and you both are at the correct altitude for the direction of flight? Without ATC its VFR on here. If someone was private messaging me with FAA regulations I would most likely ignore them too.

854300

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If someone was private messaging me with FAA regulations I would most likely ignore them too.

Indeed. I'm not perfect and I don't mind if someone contacts me with a pointer or a reminder, as long as they're polite about it. You surely don't need to quote a page from the AIM or the CFR to say, "Hey, we're about to go head-on here, I think you might be at the wrong altitude for direction of flight."

Cheers,

-R.

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