AviationManuals Plays Integral Role in Development of an Updated Streamlined FAA Approval Process

AviationManuals’ procedural insights helped reduce letter of authorization process wait times from months to days

AviationManuals is the leading provider of manual development services and Safety Management System (SMS) software. Today the company announced that for the past year it has been working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a key stakeholder in the development of a new, streamlined, letter of authorization process (LOA) for Part 91 operators. That process is now available to all Part 91 operators leveraging FAA approved vendors like AviationManuals to apply for LOAs with the FAA and have those applications reviewed (and approved) on a streamlined basis.

“We have been collaborating with industry leaders the past several months to develop a more optimized process for obtaining LOAs,” said Clement Meersseman, Senior Advisor – International Procedures, AviationManuals. “With our company’s deep knowledge and expertise in aviation safety, AviationManuals played an integral role in the direction of this project, and created the new standards and procedures for obtaining this essential document for operators.”

AviationManuals is the first aviation safety provider approved by the FAA provide this service. This event marks yet another long and distinguished step forward in the company’s history of promoting safety in the skies.

Up until now, the previous LOA process was cumbersome with disjointed approval procedures and wait times of several months. Utilizing AviationManuals’ proficiency in aviation safety practices, the company helped to create the new system that enables operators to continuously obtain the required authorizations from specific vendors.

It is a revolutionary approach that will ensure a more streamlined final LOA approval process. This saves both the FAA and operators considerable time and money in maintaining their authority to operate.

Currently in the testing phase, this new process (available for new aircraft only) reduces the LOA approval time from weeks or months to days.

“We are extremely proud to have played such an important role in developing this new streamlined process,” said Mark Baier, CEO of AviationManuals. “The fact that we were the very first safety provider approved to participate by the FAA is a strong testament to what we do as a company. We look forward to the official roll out later this year.”

About AviationManuals 

Products and services include SMS Software, FBO Manuals, Flight/Company Operations Manuals, International Operations and Procedures Manuals, Minimum Equipment Lists, Emergency Response Plans, and Internal Audit Programs, as well as Letters of Authorization (LOA) support for RVSM, Data Link (CPDLC / ADS-C), PBN (RNP-10 / -4, NAT HLA, B-/P-RNAV, and RNP-1), Enhanced Flight Vision Systems (EFVS), Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), and EFBs.

AviationManuals is a member of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). For more information on AviationManuals, go to www.aviationmanuals.com.

AviationManuals’ sister company ARC Safety Management is a modular online and app solution for managing safety, communications and overall aviation operations. The company offers customizable web and mobile Safety Management Systems for aircraft operations, FBOs, and commercial drone operators to submit, store and analyze SMS data. For more info go to www.arcsky.com.

How to take to the skies with the right LOA [+ Free LOA Guide]

The LOA development and application process may seem daunting, especially when you’re doing it alone. With our free LOA Guide (Download Here), we provide an overview of what LOAs are, when you need them, and how straightforward the application process can be.

 

Get Your LOA Guide

 

What is an FAA Letter of Authorization (LOA)?

A Letter of Authorization (LOA) in aviation is a formal document approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for Part 91 operators (known as Operations Specifications (OpSpecs) for Part 135) authorizing them to engage in specific flight activity. For example, when an operator wishes to use data link when flying outside of the United States, they would need to apply for a Data Link Communications LOA – otherwise known as an LOA A056. Always check which LOAs are required when planning your trip, especially when flying abroad.

Here are a few useful LOA facts:

  • LOAs do not expire, unless under exceptional circumstances. You do not need to renew your LOA, unless significant operational information changes, since LOAs are tied to the aircraft and operator.
  • For an LOA to be in effect, the indicated operator should have operational control of the flight.
  • Once you receive your approved LOA, there’s not much else to do – no follow up is required with your Flight Standards District Office, unless you’re looking to add an authorization or revise the information on an LOA.

For an overview of all LOAs and when you need them, take a look at our LOA Guide.

Applying for an LOA

The FAA is responsible for issuing LOAs to the rightful operator, or the entity with operational control over the aircraft for a particular flight. However, the operator is not necessarily the manager or owner of the aircraft. Where multiple operators use the same aircraft, separate LOAs would be required for each operator. 

When applying for an LOA, there are a few steps to take to ensure you have all the required materials:

  1. Make sure you have the right manual for the right LOA ready and up-to-date. Prepare the necessary operations procedures by either creating a standalone manual, or adding an appendix to an existing one.
  2. Gather all supporting documentation required by the FAA, such as training certificates, or company procedures, as well as a cover letter, along with potential FAA checklists, forms, or job aids.
  3. Once you have all documentation in place and have looked over all FAA instructions, the final step is submitting the application. Each FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) is different though, so you can expect additional instructions or feedback. Be meticulous in preparing all documentation to avoid your application being delayed or even denied. Keep in mind that we can support you throughout the entire LOA application process.

Application turnaround times vary according to which LOA you’ve applied for. Since it can take anywhere from three weeks to six months, plan your LOA application well before you plan to take to the skies.

Download your free LOA guide now to learn more about the application process, which LOAs are required when, as well as application turnaround times. Reach out to us for any questions you may have. Our LOA experts are here to help!

Flight Planning Codes Demystified [+ Free Guide]

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 10th, 2019. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

November 16, 2020

A flight plan is a critical part of a flight and it is essential to ensure that it’s properly prepared. Unfortunately,mistakes are often made when completing them, due to lack of knowledge or confusion about regulations. It’s important to ensure your flight plans are going to ATC with the right codes to help you avoid clearance changes and delays. Errors on sample flight plans are also a frequent reason why Letters of Authorization are either delayed or not approved.

Our experts have compiled a free Flight Planning Guide with equipment checklists for operators and their planning providers to make sure their flight plan meets ATC’s and the FAA’s expectations.

 

Download Your Free Guide with Checklists

 

Flight planning codes for LOA approval

When applying for a Letter of Authorization (LOA), there is a lot of paperwork to prepare and the FAA wants to make sure everything is in order. For applications for LOAs A056, Data Link Communications (CPDLC/ADS-C), and B036, Oceanic and Remote Operations (RNP-10/RNP-4/RNP-2), a sample flight plan is required.

Since you’re requesting Data Link and PBN authorization for the aircraft, the FAA will specifically be checking whether the flight planning codes listed in ICAO Items 10 and 18 are correct for the aircraft capabilities. 

Unfortunately, there are often errors in this section, which end up causing delays in the approval of LOAs. While flight planning codes may seem like just a bunch of letters and numbers on paper, errors can have real consequences when received by ATC, such as inadvertent flight penalties or the inability to receive an in-flight clearance. Operators and planning providers must share the responsibility in correctly filing flight planning codes. 

Your flight planning code checklist

We’ve put together a list of important form items operators can run through to check the most common Flight Plan Form errors.

For the full list of codes you need to consider, download the Flight Planning Guide

Item 10

List the navigation and communication equipment and capabilities of your aircraft.

Item 10a

  • Review your data link codes (J codes).
    These codes will include “J1” through “J7”
    Most DLC-capable aircraft are capable of VDL M2. If your aircraft is VDL M2 capable then you need to have the “J4” code listed.
    There has been some confusion regarding this code and TSO C-160/160a compliance. TSO compliance relates to determining domestic enroute capability which affects Item 18, but does not affect this item.
  • Determine if you should include the “P2” code.
    If the aircraft is PBCS capable, “P2” should be included. If the aircraft is not PBCS capable, do not include this code. (Note that if your aircraft has Honeywell FMSs that have not yet been updated with a proper latency timer fix, then you should NOT include “P2.”)
  • Check if you will list a COM/, NAV/, or DAT/ entry in item 18.
    If you will be listing an entry in item 18, then add a “Z” code here.
    You will always list an entry in item 18 and need a “Z” code if your aircraft is data link capable.

Item 10b

  • Ensure the transponder code is correct.
    For example, if the aircraft has 1090 MHz ADS-B installed, which is very common, one of the “extended squitter” codes should be used. The most common code is L, but your aircraft may differ.

Item 18

List additional technical equipment codes to clearly communicate your aircraft capabilities. There are a lot of codes and a specific order, so errors in this section are frequent. Depending on your flight planning provider and their system, you may only have to do this once, when you set up your aircraft profile.

  • Check the code sequence.
    Keep the codes in the preferred sequence as indicated in the FAA’s flight planning brochure to prevent truncation of your flight plan resulting in an incomplete flight plan.
  • Ensure applicable RNP-4 codes are listed.
    If the aircraft is RNP-4 capable, the PBN/ entry must include L1, in addition to “A1” for RNP-10.
  • All data link equipped aircraft must include a DAT/ entry.
    Aircraft capable of US domestic en route CPDLC, without any known “push-to-load” message errors, will typically use the code DAT/1FANSE2PDC.
    Aircraft capable of US domestic en route CPDLC, with known “push-to-load” message errors, will typically use the code DAT/1FANSER2PDC.
    Aircraft not capable of US domestic en route CPDLC, but FANS equipped, will typically use DAT/1FANS2PDC.
  • Make sure the SUR/ entry is correct.
    If ADS-B is installed, it should be SUR/260A or SUR/260B, depending on the equipment.
    If the aircraft is PBCS capable/authorized, make sure to add “RSP180” to this entry.
    If the aircraft is not PBCS capable/authorized, do not enter an RSP code.
  • Make sure there are REG/, SEL/, CODE/, and OPR/ entries.
    These are all operator/aircraft specific and reflect the aircraft registration, aircraft SELCAL code, aircraft hexadecimal Mode S code, and the operator’s name, respectively.

Item 19

Include items specific to survival equipment and information for search and rescue teams. This section of the form usually isn’t transmitted to air traffic control, but the FAA considers it mandatory for LOA approval.

Finally, although not related to flight planning codes, we have seen the FAA taking notice of the fuel information as well. Here are a few key items to check:

Fuel

Equal Time Point (ETP)

  • Ensure these calculations are included in the flight plan
    The equal time point is a point along the route from which it takes the same amount of time to return to the departure point as it would to continue to the destination.

Fuel Block: This is a detailed breakdown of fuel usage.

  • Ensure fuel listed meets requirements.
    ICAO specifies seven different fuel blocks that are to be present on the flight plan.
  • Check that your naming conventions are correct.
    Keep in mind that there are different naming conventions. For best results, it is recommended that you keep your fuel block as closely matched to ICAO’s terminology as possible.
    If you name your reserve fuel “reserve” or “RESV”, rename it to “contingency”, or “CONT”.
  • Check your back up fuel.
    Authorities want to see how you plan on using your fuel and if there is enough fuel planned in the event you would need to fly to an alternate airport.
    • Be sure to add 30 minutes of holding/final reserve fuel.
    • Be sure to add 5% contingency fuel (5% of the trip fuel).

Don’t forget to download our free Flight Planning Guide

Looking for more detail on each of these items? Our International Operations and Procedures Manual has expanded information with charts explaining each code in the appendices.

Contact us for any LOA support, and check out our free LOA Guide for more information.  

MEL, MMEL, NEF: What Are You Required to Have? [+ Free MEL Guide]

Are you required to have an MEL? Could your aircraft be grounded if you don’t have an NEF Program? MMELs, MELs, and NEFs (nonessential equipment and furnishing lists) allow you to operate even if some aircraft equipment and furnishings are inoperative.  Knowing which you need though can be confusing.

Did you know that the use of an MMEL as an MEL requires more than simply having the MMEL? Find out what other documents you need to have on board the aircraft. Download our free MEL guide for clear guidance on what you need, how to use it, and how to maintain it.

 

Get Your Free MEL Guide

 

MMEL Explained

Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL): A master list of items on an aircraft that are allowed to be inoperative under specific conditions without impacting the safety of flight.

The MMEL is established by the aircraft manufacturer and approved by the national aviation authority. The goal of the document is to detail what equipment and furnishings can be inoperative without compromising safe operations. When developing the MMEL a number of factors are taken into consideration including:

  • Engineering and flight testing of failures
  • Effects of inoperative items on flight safety and the crew
  • Impact of multiple failures

MEL Explained

Minimum Equipment List (MEL): Based on the MMEL, it is an adapted list of items specific to a given aircraft/fleet aircraft that may be inoperative taking into consideration specific regulatory and operations limitations unique to each operator.

With an MEL, the operator can far more easily determine the conditions under which an aircraft can operate even with inoperative equipment, since it is more concise and customized to the aircraft/fleet and operator.

An MEL must also be approved by the aviation authority, but unlike an MMEL, which is designed to cover an entire aircraft series/models’ potential configurations, spanning years or even decades, an MEL can be fully customized to remove non-applicable items as well as add procedures. 

MEL customization is based on:

  • Aircraft type, variant, and serial number
  • Applicable regulations related to the type of operation, aircraft size and capacity, airworthiness directives, MMEL supplements, STCs, etc.; and special approvals granted to the operator (CAT II, PBN, RVSM, ETOPS…).

It is important to ensure that when customizing an MEL, it is never less restrictive than the MMEL.

What about nonessential equipment that cater to passenger convenience and entertainment? These are part of an Operator’s NEF Program instead.

NEF Explained

Nonessential Equipment and Furnishings Program (NEF): It is part of the MEL, but may be kept as a separate document. It outlines the steps operators may use to determine if a damaged, inoperative or missing item can be deemed as nonessential and therefore deferred.

If you have the LOA that allows you to use your MEL, or MMEL as an MEL for U.S. Part 91 operators, you may use an NEF Program to defer items deemed nonessential.

However, if you don’t have an NEF program, all inoperative, nonessential items need to be fixed before takeoff.

U.S. registered aircraft operating under Part 91 can obtain authorization to use the MMEL as an MEL, although it’s highly suggested that operators use this for domestic operations only.

MMEL as MEL (U.S. Registered, Part 91 Only)

If you want to use an MMEL as an MEL, there are however other documents you must have onboard in addition to the MMEL – refer to the MEL Guide for more information.

When using an MMEL as an MEL crews only have generic information available to them. Not all items included in the MMEL will be applicable to their specific aircraft or type of operation. It is important that crews be able to determine which deferrals are applicable to them.

  • A number of items in the MMEL will not indicate a specific number installed or number required. Crews will need to know which equipment is installed, how many units are installed, and the minimum number required based on applicable regulations and operational limitations.
  • The MMEL and M&O procedures will contain generic procedure statements. Crews will need separate guidance on where specific procedures can be found.
  • The MMEL will contain generic regulatory statements. Crews will need to know which regulations apply to each item and have copies of those regulations available to them in the aircraft.

Due to the generic nature of the MMEL, crews must be careful when selecting the appropriate deferral item. Some of the things they will want to consider are:

  • Modifications, Service Bulletins, STCs, etc.
  • Part numbers
  • Serial number ranges
  • Variant restrictions
  • Operating types
  • Installations of other equipment
  • Quantity of equipment installed

Creating an MEL that meets regulations and then keeping it up to date is very time consuming. Contact our team for advice and support. And don’t forget to download your complimentary MEL Guide:

Get Your Free MEL Guide

Data Link and RNP-4 LOAs: What You Need to Know

Clear communication between aircraft and Air Traffic Control (ATC) is especially important when conducting operations over oceanic airspace. To ensure safe passage, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) released regulatory guidelines mandating that crews flying over much of the North Atlantic (NAT) must have Letters of Authorization for Data Link and RNP-4 by January 30, 2020. With these regulations already in effect, we want to make sure you have all the information you need to obtain your LOAs and keep your operations running smoothly.

What Are RNP-4 and Data Link and Why Do You Need Them?

The only way to permit more aircraft in a high-use airspace is to lower the separation standards between them. ICAO has mandated RNP-4 and Data Link to keep up with the growing air traffic in the NAT. This equipment helps to ensure efficient communication and minimum navigation performance allowing the distance between traffic to be reduced.

  • RNP-4: More accurate navigation equipment, which is certified in accordance with ICAO’s “Require Navigation Performance” specifications, ensures that aircraft can fly accurately to a centerline.  The lower the RNP value, the more accurate the equipment.  This is especially important in oceanic or remote airspace where control centers are not available. In a highly trafficked airspace such as the NAT, it is critical that as many aircraft be certified with the most precise navigation equipment possible.
  • Data Link: Navigation is only part of the equation; ATC still requires position reporting information from aircraft to properly track and control flights.  Relying on pure voice communications for those position reports would be impractical as traffic expands — enter Data Link.  By automating position reports with Automatic Dependent Surveillance — Contract (ADS-C) and Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) technology, ATC can ensure that critical position information is transmitted quickly and reliably.

What Should I Do Before Applying for These LOAs?

  1. Make sure you have completed any necessary upgrades to your aircraft. Check your Airplane Flight Manual and consult with your maintenance team to ensure the aircraft is actually capable of both RNP-4 and Data Link. This is typically outlined in the “limitations” section of the AFM.  If a Service Bulletin / Change or STC is required, schedule those installations as soon as you can.  It might be possible for the FAA to begin reviewing an LOA request while maintenance is still in progress, but it is definitely impossible to get an LOA for something your aircraft can’t currently do.
  2. Review your current RNP LOA, if any. Your flight department may or may not have an LOA for oceanic RNP operations already.  Check if the FAA has already issued you a paragraph B036 LOA, and if so, check whether it lists “RNP-4.”  Most non-NAT oceanic operations only require RNP-10, and for many years that was the only authorization given. It’s possible that you might only have RNP-10 even if your aircraft was capable of RNP-4 when you first applied for LOAs. 
  3. Make sure your pilots’ training is up to date. For Part 91 operators, training requirements are a bit more relaxed than for the rest of the aviation world. This means you can take some liberties with training schedules and deadlines. However, to ensure that pilots are familiar with current procedures in the NAT, the FAA will likely hold you to a 24-month currency for your international / RNP training, if not even less.  If your training is older than 24 months, it is recommended that you schedule a recurrent course ASAP.
  4. Contact a flight planning service to obtain a sample flight plan. For both the RNP-4 and Data Link LOAs, the FAA will require that you provide a complete sample flight plan.  Note that this sample should reflect both a full crew plan (i.e., the computer printout, including the fuel block, waypoints, ETPs, etc.) and the one-page ICAO flight plan.  The FAA may check your plan for any number of potential issues, including compliance with fuel requirements, the equipment codes used, or even just that you’ve selected an appropriate destination alternate.  So, it is important to choose a flight planning vendor that you trust to provide an accurate and suitable plan. Check out our top tips and tricks for ensuring your flight plan is ready in our Flight Planning Codes Demystified article.

LOA Applications Now Will Yield Cost Savings in the Long Run

While LOA applications may seem like a lot of work, shirking them can have real-world consequences. There are significant financial penalties for being caught flying without required LOAs and the alternative — flying around, above, or below the airspaces with these mandates — isn’t much better. You may be forced to fly hours out of the way, incurring unnecessary additional fuel costs and delays.

The applications can be a process, but the time and cost of applying for these LOA applications does not compare to the price of flying an additional four or five hours, or the fine for avoiding them altogether.

Once approved, your LOAs likely won’t need to be considered again until the FAA releases new regulations and guidelines. But if there ever is a reason to resubmit an LOA application, subscribing to our manual revision service can help you stay on top of such changes. When we hear about new regulations that could affect operators’ LOAs, we can push news out to our subscribers, detailing what those changes are and what actions departments will have to take. What LOAs look like now is not what they looked like five years ago, and most likely not what they will look like five years in the future, so it is best to have the tools to react quickly.

Contact us for any LOA support, and check out our free LOA Guide for more information.

LOAs: what they are, who they’re for, and how to get them

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on September 25th, 2017. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

You have probably heard about Letters of Authorization (LOA). But do you know what they are or if they apply to you?

If you are a Part 91 operator, chances are you have heard about Letters of Authorization (LOAs). There is also a good chance that you’re not entirely certain what they do or if they even apply to you.

What are LOAs?

An LOA is a formal approval issued by the FAA to Part 91 operators. With an LOA, an operator can engage in a specific flight activity that requires authorization. For example, if you want to fly in Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) airspace, then you must have an RVSM LOA. But if you have no plans of using RVSM airspace, then you don’t need the LOA.

Each of the following types of operation require FAA authorization and thus its own LOA:

  • Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM)
  • Required Navigation Performance (RNP) -10/4
  • North Atlantic High Level Airspace (NAT HLA)
  • Area Navigation (B-RNAV / RNAV-5 and P-RNAV / RNAV-1)*
  • Data Link Communications (ADS-C / CPDLC)

*Although an LOA is not required for domestic US operations, foreign countries may require authorization (i.e., an LOA) prior to conducting these operations in their airspace.

(Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) Out operations formerly needed an LOA. However, in late 2018 the FAA removed this requirement and is not issuing any LOAs for ADS-B Out operations. NOTE: ADS-B In operations does still require an LOA. Get more information here).

Who Needs an LOA?

The FAA issues LOAs to the aircraft’s operator. According to the FAA, an operator is the entity having operational control of the aircraft for a particular flight. Operational control is defined as having the ‘exercise of authority over initiating, conducting or terminating a flight’ (14 CFR Part 1.1).

It is important to note that:

  • The operator is not necessarily the manager or owner of the aircraft.
  • For the LOA to be in effect, the operator named on the LOA must be the same as the operator who has operational control of a flight.
  • If multiple operators operate the same aircraft, then separate LOAs for each operator are required.

How to Apply

Applying for an LOA typically means:

  • Preparing the required operations procedures (either as a standalone manual or appendix to existing manual)
  • Completing an application to the FAA, including a cover letter and any available FAA checklists, forms or job aids
  • Gathering all supporting documentation required by the FAA (copies of AFM pages, training certificates, etc.)
  • Submitting the application to the FAA

It is essential that you carefully follow all FAA instructions and include all necessary documents. Failure to do so could delay your application or be grounds for denial – so always double-check everything before submitting!

In our next post, we’ll separate LOA fact from fiction.

AviationManuals can assist you with obtaining your LOAs. To learn more, contact us today.

EFVS: The what and why of Enhanced Flight Vision System

There is no doubt that when you can enhance what pilots can see on approach, especially in inclement weather conditions, you can greatly reduce the risk of accidents or incidents.

In 2017, the FAA introduced an enhanced flight vision system (EFVS) rule. This helped increase the use of vision system technologies, which aim to assist safer landings by virtually eliminating low-visibility conditions.

EFVS explained

But what exactly is EFVS? Enhanced Flight Vision System is an aircraft system that uses a type of heads-up display and imaging sensors to present information to the pilot, such as aircraft information, flight symbology combined with an electronic real-time sensor image of the forward external scene.

In essence, EFVS provides the pilot with a second pair of highly-enhanced eyes. The EFVS, installed on most midsize and large business jets, will show the pilot artificially displayed elements on top of real-world views, such as the horizon and runway – not unlike a video game.

Pioneered by NASA in the late nineties, and then further developed by business jet and avionics manufacturers, EFVS is becoming increasingly widespread which will hopefully drive down pricing allowing the benefits of this technology to find its way into more aircraft. Now, military requirements are driving further EFVS innovations, which in time should then become standard on general and commercial aircraft as well.


What are the benefits of EFVS?

The technology allows pilots to land safely at airports even in limited visibility due to haze, smog, smoke, fog, or simply darkness. This can help minimize delays and prevent aircraft from being rerouted. Most importantly, it greatly reduces the likelihood of runway incidents and potentially accidents.


EFVS Operations

There are two types of EFVS:

  • EFVS Operations to 100 feet above TDZE

In this case, EFVS is only activated when descending below Decision Altitude/ Decision Height (DA/DH) to 100 feet above the Touchdown Zone (TDZE). From 100 feet onwards to the TDZE, you must use natural vision.

  • EFVS Operations to Touchdown and Rollout

Alternatively, EFVS from Operations to Touchdown and Rollout allows you to activate EFVS from descent below DA/DH, until the plane reaches normal taxi speed.


Do I need an LOA for EFVS?

While a Letter of Authorization (LOA) for EFVS is not required within the United States, it is often mandatory when flying internationally, especially in the EU.

To make sure that you can use all of your EFVS capabilities when flying abroad, apply for the LOA so you’re covered.


We can help

To make things easy, we can help prepare all the required LOA documentation you’ll need to present to the FAA. Part-135 Operators should bear in mind that they also need to send the FAA an evaluation plan.

Our new EFVS Operations Manual makes the entire process even simpler. We cover procedures for EFVS to 100 feet above TDZE, as well as touchdown and rollout.

Have questions? Contact our experts.


 

Do I Need an LOA for ADS-B Out?

Countries can set their own requirements for authorizations for ADS-B Out operations. The FAA has decided to discontinue the ADS-B Out LOA (A153) and will no longer be issuing authorizations to US operators. However, we recommend that US operators carry a copy of Notice 8900.491 to show to foreign inspectors if they are requested to provide their authorization. In essence, Notice 8900.491 is provided by the FAA to summarize why it is no longer providing authorizations for ADS-B Out.  It is important to note that an LOA is still required for ADS-B In operations.

Setting the scene

Back in 2010, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) determined that operators needed to request operational approval for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out from their Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). While the FAA had not required an LOA to use ADS-B Out in the United States, they had issued OpSpec/MSpec/LOA A153 or A353 to satisfy foreign CAAs that did require authorization.

However, in September 2015, ICAO Member States adopted new guidance that gradually phased out operator authorization requirements to use ADS-B Out. As stated in Notice 8900.491, “continuous monitoring of equipment performance has proven to be the most effective means of oversight.” By overseeing the data of ADS-B Out, the FAA and other CAAs can identify aircraft performance. Any aircraft with a negative safety impact on Air Traffic Control could be restricted from flying in airspace requiring ADS-B Out. Additionally, with rising demand in OpSpecs, MSpecs, and LOAs, the FAA has become understandably stretched. Removing the need for any LOA can help minimize the burden placed on both regulators and operators.

What’s changing for the ADS-B Out LOA and what should I do?

In short, the FAA has decommissioned OpSpecs/MSpecs/LOA A153 and A353, also known as the ADS-B OutLOA. By June 30, 2019, the FAA will have reached out to operators currently holding these OpSpecs/MSpecs/LOAs to inform them that it is no longer necessary. However, it’s strongly advised to carry a copy of Notice 8900.491 on the aircraft. If any foreign inspectors or officials ask about the LOA, operators can show the Notice explaining why the FAA is no longer issuing an authorization.

Different airspace will have different regulations, so be sure to research equipage requirements when planning your overseas journey anyway – especially in regard to the ADS-B Out mandate. No further action should be needed from pilots and operators as we understand it.

For operators carrying our International Operations and Procedures Manual, no immediate revisions are needed, but we will be covering this in our next International Operations and Procedures Manual Revision Service update, so keep an eye out.

We want to again emphasize that all of this applies only to ADS-B Out.  ADS-B In continues to require an LOA.

If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. If you want to know more about our FAA LOA Support Services, you can find more information here.

Do I Need an LOA to operate in RVSM airspace?

Authorization is required for RVSM. However, the FAA has changed the requirements allowing some aircraft equipped with ADS-B to operate within the contiguous United States RVSM airspace without applying for operator-specific authorization. Since the guidance does not specify how an operator can verify authorization, we are still recommending that ALL operators carry an operator-specific authorization (LOA). Operations outside of the contiguous U.S., including flights to Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, still require a formal LOA application under ALL circumstances.

What is an RVSM LOA?

RVSM or Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum decreases the specified standard vertical separation of aircraft flying between FL 290 (29,000 ft) and FL 410 (41,000 ft) from 2,000 ft to 1,000 ft minimum. This allows more aircraft to fly safely in a particular airspace.

Since this type of operation requires aircraft to be equipped with certified equipment and crews to have specific training, operators need to gain permission to fly in RVSM airspace. That’s where the LOA comes into play. LOAs grant aircraft operators the FAA’s authorization to exercise particular activities, in this case RVSM.

What’s changed?

As of January 22nd,2019, the RVSM LOA is considered to be automatic for operators with a compliant ADS-B system and will not be formally issued unless applied for. This change allows some operators to skip the application process but DOES NOT exempt having an authorization. Due to a certain amount of current ambiguity, in order to demonstrate proof of authorization, we are still recommending that ALL operators carry an operator-specific authorization (LOA).

As of now, if you meet all of the following criteria you are theoretically automatically authorized and do not need to submit a formal LOA Application:

  1. Your aircraft is fitted for ADS-B Out, and is transmitting sufficient ADS-B data;
  2. Your ADS-B Out system is compliant with 14 CFR 91.227;
  3. Your aircraft is maintained in accordance with all the mandatory maintenance tasks (such as air data and transponder checks) and is meeting height monitoring specifications;
  4. Crews are trained in RVSM;
  5. The crew has no other need for a specific document confirming they are RVSM-authorized;
  6. You do not ever operate outside of the contiguous United States.

It is critical to keep in mind that noncontiguous, foreign and international airspaces (including Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico) still require formal authorization: any operator who intends to conduct international flights still needs to apply for the RVSM LOA.

If you are not able to answer yes to all 6 items then you will need to apply for the RVSM LOA. This may include your operation if ANY of the following applies:

  • You intend to fly in RVSM airspace outside the contiguous 48 United States;
  • You still have to install ADS-B Out, or you have any reason to doubt that sufficient ADS-B data is being broadcast;
  • Your ADS-B system does not comply with 14 CFR 91.227;
  • You need direct evidence that you are specifically authorized for RVSM, for any reason.

Also, if your aircraft is not yet equipped with ADS-B Out – don’t forget that deadline is looming so make sure your aircraft is equipped by January 1st, 2020.

How will this progress?

For now, there has been no further discussion on whether other countries will be following suit after the FAA’s decision, nor whether the automatic authorization is internationally recognized. However, it is unlikely other countries will follow without the benefit of certain processes to verify specific airframes and their ADS-B data.

Whether the FAA will be publishing a database of operators or aircraft presumed to be automatically authorized has not yet been discussed. But if this does progress and is accepted by other countries, there might be an application-free future peeking on the horizon. AviationManuals will be keeping an eye on international operations and watching this space to provide you with the latest updates.

We still recommend carrying an RVSM LOA until further clarification from the FAA. Still need an LOA package, application, or an RVSM Operations Manual? We can help.

What Should You Do to Respond To the Data Link LOA A056 Changes

The FAA introduced a new template for LOA A056 for Data Link communications in November 2017. The new template adds two pieces of information that were not previously tracked. The changes focus on the PBCS capabilities, in order to meet the March 29, 2018, PBCS implementation, and the name of the service provider used for Data Link services for each aircraft.

Here are four paths to take when responding to the Data Link LOA changes, depending on your status:

I already have an approved LOA A056 and it is in the new format:

  •  You are in compliance with both the PBCS implementation and Data Link mandate already. No further action is needed.

I already have an approved LOA A056, but it is not yet in the new format:

  • Fill out a new A056 application and ask FSDO to reissue your A056 in the new format.
  • In rare cases your FSDO may issue you the new LOA A056 without a full resubmission. Be sure to speak with your inspector to get a better idea of what exactly they would like you to submit.

I do not have an approved LOA A056, but have submitted an application OR I have submitted a request to add a new aircraft to my LOA A056:

  • Be sure your submission has been prepared using the FAA’s newest format.
  • If you submitted prior to November 2017, and your request hasn’t been approved yet, you will need to re-prepare and re-submit.

I do not have an approved LOA A056, and have not yet applied:

  • Be sure to have your aircraft upgraded to meet Data Link requirements as soon as practical if you intend to keep operating in the NAT. Right now, Data Link is required for any NAT operations at FL340 to FL390.  Beginning in January 2020, Data Link will be required for all NAT operations at FL290 and above.
  • Apply for an LOA A056 using the FAA’s newest format.

To learn more about how AviationManuals can help, contact us today.