View Full Version : RVSM over Africa

23rd Sep 2008, 19:01
As of 25.09.2008 RVSM will be implemented over Africa.:eek:

Any opinions???

galaxy flyer
23rd Sep 2008, 19:10
Use offsets, broadcast in the blind and hope like the various Russian planes are not at RVSM levels?? Oh, watch TCAS, but it is not all that useful, too many fly without a transponder. Understandable, I suppose, no radar.

24th Sep 2008, 04:59
Scary, very scary!!!

False Capture
24th Sep 2008, 05:03
Great news about RVSM in Africa. Loads more levels available to the majority of us who spend our time flying north/south with an off-set to the right. :ok:

The primary threat still remains from airways crossing traffic (especially Hajj flights) with no transponder and not participating in the IFBP. As always, eyes open approching those airways junctions.:sad:

Ndicho Moja
24th Sep 2008, 07:37
RVSM over Africa; Reminds me of the joke about the country that decided to transition from left hand drive to right hand drive. Trucks this week, cars next. Scary.

fermented herring
24th Sep 2008, 10:59
Time to start a competition for the acronym in style with ETOPS (Engine Turns Or Passengers Swim)?

Let me start with a poor one to keep the threshold for contibutions low:

React Very Swiftly Manoeuvre

24th Sep 2008, 11:38
When I was flying a business jet Algeria to Sao Tome a couple of months back the Nigerian ATC guy didnt even know the Phonetic alphabet ;)

RVSM over Africa means Remain Visual Speak More (to other aircraft not ATC)


24th Sep 2008, 12:43
My opinion? I'm glad I'm retired.;)

24th Sep 2008, 14:08
My opinion? I'm glad I'm retired.

Me too :} :ok:

24th Sep 2008, 15:09
Its alright for some...I arrived in Burkina Faso on the 24/09 (02:40) non RVSM. Im currently on a night stop and im returning on the 25/09 (03:30) so I guess I will be one of the first Guinea pigs to go through RVSM as I believe it changes at midnight....:eek:

763 jock
24th Sep 2008, 16:58
The good thing about RVSM is that it will enable "ATC" to handle more traffic.:E

24th Sep 2008, 17:06
How scary?

Hajj will be around in about 2 months, North Eastern end of Africa will be fun. I think we will stick to day flying until it beds in!

24th Sep 2008, 17:18
What about using RVSM to introduce the old quadrantal rule? e.g.

Eastbound 310 350 390
Northbound 320 360 400
Westbound 290 330 370 410
Southbound 300 340 380

This would add capacity and safety would not be compromized.

24th Sep 2008, 18:16
Roll (to) Vertical, S*** Myself.

Paranoid as I am, I always keep a log of aircraft I hear on freq. on African flights... (call it "DIY ATC"). Looks like I'm going to need more blank pages.

24th Sep 2008, 18:24
Use SLOP, but avoid even numbers. 4.3NM or 4.7NM to the right, because you ll have that Ukranian or Kirgisian guy coming opposite direction, same level and precisely 4NM or 5NM to the LEFT.

24th Sep 2008, 23:30
1000ft separation over Africa!!! :ugh::ugh: PANIC!!! :eek:

ATC Watcher
25th Sep 2008, 09:53
It is more a prestige question than a technical one. Every Region has RVSM and so Africa must have it.
As(too) many politicians and CAA managers in that part of the world only react to money ; more traffic with RSM ? = more overflight charges = good for me.
I know of many Sates ATC Control centres who did not have the training required , and no letters of agreements signed , or even discussed prior implementation today. Scary : no , after all it is the real world.

25th Sep 2008, 10:29
ATC Watcher - no disrespect my friend, but you've obviously never flown over Africa IFR at night!

25th Sep 2008, 10:55
Maybe pilots will now have to start looking out of the windows.

ford cortina
25th Sep 2008, 16:22
Having done my fair share of deep Africa flights, I am glad my airline does not go that deep. Good luck guys

Manual Reversion
25th Sep 2008, 16:56
It actually seemed to work quite well. Over N'Djamena (and CPDLC), all lights on and everyone on the flight deck. Nipped up to FL350 JNB-LHR, hour or so later, aircraft appearing 1000' above and below.

ATC Watcher
26th Sep 2008, 20:51
Dontoit : I was being sarcastic. I should have added the adequate smilies, sorry.
And , no I do not fly at night above central Africa when I can avoid it, but that was even before RVSM.

27th Sep 2008, 14:59
to all you who were doubting our capability.....RVSM going on smoothly in Africa........yeees...even over DRC.....shame on all y'all doubting thomas'

28th Sep 2008, 20:42
It was already pretty dangerous BEFORE RVSM.
But now! Just imagine all of those non-complying IFBC 126.9 having no free levels for escape...:confused:
We'd better use night goggles!:sad:

Semaphore Sam
29th Sep 2008, 04:10
I've retired. I flew N/S to Asmara, Addis, Nairobi, and J'berg from the 70's to the 00's, and to Kano E/W. RVSM would seem to limit dangers inherent in Africa's ridiculous ATC, by giving 2 more flight levels for separation than before. All you people berating RVSM...consider the congestion if there were just Flight Levels every 4000'...concentrating traffic like this would be very dangerous. Every 2000' better, every 1000' twice as better. Where am I going wrong? Stupid Sam?

30th Sep 2008, 06:51
RVSM with no 100% radar coverage (I suppose)!!!!.Very dangerous

30th Sep 2008, 12:41
RVSM without properly certified aircraft altimeters, very dangerous.
Is there any oneheight monitoring unit in Africa?

30th Sep 2008, 12:42
Central Africa is the main problem. N'djamena isn't too bad & close to Khartoum is ok (radar coverage), but in the Kano region...forget it!

I would feel a lot safer if the whole continent had radar coverage, but it isn't going to happen for a long time.

I would like to know what the percentage of aircraft transmit IFBP, I am guessing it is going to rise, especially at crossings!

30th Sep 2008, 14:59
More likely to get ADS-B rather than RADAR.

30th Sep 2008, 16:13
nice thing.but you better watch your TCAS and listen carefully 126.9

30th Sep 2008, 18:07
but you better watch your TCAS and listen carefully 126.9

Good advice BUT that always assumes that the adversary switches on the transponder and transmits on 126.9:rolleyes:

It is more likely that the conflict will be with the above rather than the good scheduled carriers. A moonless night over Africa in the clouds could result in a fraught several hours.

To the poster who said shame on those who doubted the ability of the African states to implement RVSM I urge caution; 1 swallow does not a summer make; ie 1 night/1 week without incident does not spell success.

Next down through the conflict zone in about 2 weeks with a full moon:ok:

bugg smasher
1st Oct 2008, 09:03
RVSM implementation is a complicated affair, certification of aircraft, crews and procedures well established in many parts of the world. Africa? Not by a long shot, too many unregistered and independent cowboys in sub-standard aircraft operating there, at flight levels of their own choosing. Altitude and heading deviations due weather are frequent, and unmonitored by any ground agency. Dangerous enough as it is, why reduce separation even further?

Whose brilliant idea was this anyways?

1st Oct 2008, 11:49
The 'cowboys' don't all fly for obscure outfits and fly clapped out DC8s or Antonovs. A couple of years ago, on my way to Jo'burg, I watched a 747 belonging to the flag carrier of a major European nation that is somewhere on a straight line between Dover and Zurich climb up through my level about three miles away. No TCAS return, no radio calls frfom him, no acknowledgement of my calls on my current ATC freq, 126.9, or 121.5 - and ATC, when I got through to them, knew nothing about him.

For those asking how did I know it was a flag carrier of the nation I mentioned, it was because he was close enough for both of us to see, not just his tail logo, but the name of the airline on his fueslage.

Back to the more traditional African cowboys, I've met crews in SA who flew those all white DC8s who quite openly told me that they usually flew straight line routes to places they couldn't mention (with freight they couldn't mention) no radio and no flight plan once they crossed the SA border (for the very good reason they couldn't admit to going where they were going). That was some years ago now, when there were a few more large-ish wars raging in Africa that there may be now. With RVSM now in place, I hope such operators are flying at +500' of standard levels - and that they've got good altimeters.

1st Oct 2008, 11:51
Sorry for being thick but what does RVSM stand for :)

1st Oct 2008, 12:20

It stands for Reduced Vertical Seperation Minima, and permits 1000 feet vertical seperation between aircraft on the same route. Formerly, over Africa we had 2000 feet between aircraft on the same route.

What folks are squawkin' about is quite right - in Africa where procedural control is pretty much in effect over the entire continent, with irrelevant minor exceptions, it puts more aircraft in the sky 'n closer proximity to one another.

Political correctness aside, African ATC is tragic. Most airfields don't even report an hourly METAR and their procedural competence is marginal.

This is an accident lookin' fer a place ta happen.

Heads-up over Africa Ladies 'n Gents!

Ethiopian Airlines :*- Start monitoring and using 126.9 iaw the IFBP soon! Ya dummies!:*

Chris Scott
1st Oct 2008, 12:21

Reduced Vertical Separation Minima, I think. It started in the late 1990s in Europe. Prior to that, the cruise Flight-Levels 300, 320, 340, 360, 380, 400, 420, etc., only existed on NAT tracks or for the Military. Prior to that, there was 2000-foot separation between opposite direction traffic above FL290. This had been mainly due to limited accuracy in altimetry.

But we used to use those levels unofficially for short-term do-it-yourself separation over Africa, using the blind-broadcast 126.9MHz to make arrangements with other aircraft.

Hope this helps.

bugg smasher
5th Oct 2008, 02:40
A TCAS RA usually only requires a few hundred feet of deviation and a IFBP "self-resolution" should need only 1000ft, for a relatively short period. There is now less chance of someone else being at the resolution flight-level, also. "Affordable safety."

You're assuming that both aircraft have fully functioning active TCAS systems installed (a passive TCAS system will not function without interrogation, or out of range, from appropriately equipped ground radars), a questionable proposition in Africa, at best.

In any event, the probability of collision over the dark continent is likely not so different as it was twenty years ago. In the seemingly endless resources of the Africa pilot, God’s own in my humble opinion, a good measure of ‘there but for the grace of the Almighty go I’ seems to be among the more common of solutions.

ATC Watcher
5th Oct 2008, 14:29
Atco749 : to all you who were doubting our capability.....RVSM going on smoothly in Africa........yeees...even over DRC.....shame on all y'all doubting thomas'

My friend , RVSM implementation has nothing to do with national pride but is rather a checklist to follow : if all the boxes are ticked you can go ahead. My information is that not all the boxes are ticked in some African States today as we speak.

From your title I asume you are a front line controller, so even if your bosses or ASECNA declares that the boxes are all ticked, that you all have been trained properly and that all the letters of agreements, including contingency measures, are signed between all the ATC units , I would do like St Thomas as ask to see the list and the signatures. Because if 2 hit each other ,you know that the controller handling the mike will be the one going to jail , not them.

So I will not listen too much to the Nationalistic pride song " we can do it like Europe " but make sure all the boxes are ticked.

Bonne chance mon ami, et fais bien attention.

5th Oct 2008, 20:09
Why do people keep banging on about a lack of radar over Africa in relation to RVSM? There is no radar over the Atlantic, Pacific, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean not to mention parts of the Arabian Peninsula, South and South-East Asia, Australia and I dare say elsewhere yet RVSM seems to work without the wailing and nashing of teeth.

Lack of radar coverage does not make RVSM dangerous, lack of effective Air Traffic Control does. Judging by some of the places I've operated it doesn't even have to be that good but being able to get in contact at some point is a good start :cool:

5th Oct 2008, 20:36
I think the St Thomas' amongst us are bound by the universal truism that explains all shortcomings south of the Med: "It's Africa!"

9th Oct 2008, 15:36
Lack of ATC & radar coverage in Africa is a real problem.

If you query the ATC facility telling that readability is 2 or 3, they tell you the problem is your equipment & not theirs!!

We all know that there is varying degrees of ATC radio & radar coverage in Africa, they need to "standardise" the service we get.

I am much happier when I reach parts of Africa & I hear "radar identified".

11th Oct 2008, 06:07
sincerely...i get your reason for panicing..but get the facts right..2000feet separation was used due to the errors inherent in altimeters of older aircrafts...with the new generation of aircraft, RVSM started to be used because of the precision of altimeters. With that in mind, what is required in RVSM airspace is for an aircraft to be upto required standards....2 altimeters with a min diff of 75ft....is one of them; in Africa each contracting state has to give a certification for RVSM approval which by the way is from ICAO/FAA....and infact, since most of the airlines using this airspace had previous certification from ICAO and have been flying in Europe and Asia...certification is valid also in africa.....therefore if an acft does not have RVSM approval, we will not allow it to fly in the airspace btwn FL290-410...hence, no cowboys, bushflyers, old antonovs....
About radar coverage, i agree it is lacking in many states but you should understand that it is not A MUST....procedural separation will suffice. There are procedures to be followed in case of turbulance, mountain waves etc and i'd urge all pilots flying over Africa to be aware of them. check ICAO | ESAF Office (http://www.icao.int/esaf)

ATC watcher.....i can assure you, its not about national or continental pride, we have signed the letters of agreement, ticked all the boxes, and ready to provide the ATC ......and sincerely, we aint doing it "to be like Europe"...from my desk i can tell you i had more headache with pilots competing for 310.350... :ugh:....compared to then.....separation is easier......just keep your altimeters in good condition:ok:

11th Oct 2008, 07:00
therefore if an acft does not have RVSM approval, we will not allow it to fly in the airspace btwn FL290-410...

How can you be so sure that this theoretically correct statement will be implemented by all African states?

100m down/10,000m up
11th Oct 2008, 18:08
How about North Atlantic Tracks - no radar coverage and the first to introduce RVSM!!!!!!!

12th Oct 2008, 13:16
How about North Atlantic Tracks - no radar coverage and the first to introduce RVSM!!!!!!!

1. Operated in an environment of excellent VHF transitions to very good HF comms in a highly monitored manner
2. Operated in a generally more benign wx environment (at least as far as fewer wx deviations required)
3. Operated in a fixed track environment with quite few aircraft crossing tracks
4. Operated generally by modern aircraft, well maintained by international scheduled airlines from well regulated countries
5. Operated usually with 98% of traffic going in same direction on a given track

Now lets talk about Africa again ...... need I say more?

12th Oct 2008, 15:46
Topbunk, I think the point he was trying to make was you don't need radar to have "safe" RVSM. As I pointed out on the last page what most of Africa needs is ATC that works effectively both within individual countries and across borders. If you put in 100% radar coverage across the whole of Africa tomorrow it would make no difference to the ATC environment that we operate in because you can still fly over several countries without talking to a controller (despite trying) :hmm:

Maisk Rotum
12th Oct 2008, 16:25
Really, Very Scary Manoeuvre

12th Oct 2008, 16:46

I didn't say you needed radar, and in that respect I don't think we disagree. Indeed, to go further, I agree that what is needed for any ATC system to work (RVSM or non-RVSM) is cross border coordination, working comms, etc. Africa doesn't have it and I doubt it will in the next decade either.

The example I gave of the NAT system, was what has made RVSM on the NAT tracks a resounding success, and then asked how Africa compares:eek:

I have now made a post-RVSM transit of Africa and was pleasantly surprised that
the comms were much better than a month or so ago - immediate HF with Tripoli, better VHF with Brazza and Kinshasa, even HF with Luanda:D.

Still not much in the way of Selcal though, without which the Control of ATC on HF will never be good enough and 126.9 will rule - even on my transit I heard of an aircraft at a non-standard level due conflicting traffic. At least previously the even FL's were unoccupied and 1000ft separation could be safely achieved.

For me, the jury is still out if it is better, I am thinking on balance it is with more levels available, but we still are faced with the fundamentals not being in place for proper control of air traffic.

Remind me, when does the Hadj season start:ooh:

Safe flying

12th Oct 2008, 19:11
We don't disagree!

I guess the Hajj season will be starting in the first couple of weeks of November this year. :ok:

Heading down that way this week, guess I'll get to experience it all for myself :eek:

13th Oct 2008, 01:27
Hmmm, just like in the old days.
European snobs telling the Africans just how to arrange things.
I don't suppose that it ever occurred to these European/UK snobs that ATC in Africa will always be a tad different.
Nevertheless, these same European/UK snobs keep complaining about ATC elsewhere, and yet...just where was it where two airplanes met, in RVSM airspace?
Ahhh, Europe.
Seems with these same European/UK snobs, it is continually the pot calling the kettle black...:rolleyes:

Carnage Matey!
13th Oct 2008, 01:47
Except that the Swiss mid air has no relevance to this debate as it could just as easily happen in Africa with two aircraft at the same - correct - level. The Swiss mid air was caused by:

i) ineffective comms between ATC units (where else does that happen)
ii) insufficient manpower to perform the ATC role (where else does that happen)
ii) incorrect response to a TCAS RA by one party (that could happen anywhere)

So perhaps you can put your colonial stereotypes back into the box.

bugg smasher
13th Oct 2008, 12:11
Hmmm, attempted hijack of a thread using irrelevant data for the sole apparent purpose of flinging one’s nose pickings in the general direction of Europe.

So, 411A, how are you feeling today, old son?

15th Oct 2008, 06:10
411A........thanks for telling it as it is.......not very sweet words for them to swallow....

''How can you be so sure that this theoretically correct statement will be implemented by all African states?''
very fortunately, our governments have total compliance when it comes to matters aviation and ICAO implemented ...so be sure the acft 1000ft below is RVSM approved....

"The Swiss mid air was caused by:
i) ineffective comms between ATC units (where else does that happen)
ii) insufficient manpower to perform the ATC role (where else does that happen)
ii) incorrect response to a TCAS RA by one party (that could happen anywhere)

.......does pot calling kettle black sound familiar.......

"I have now made a post-RVSM transit of Africa and was pleasantly surprised that
the comms were much better than a month or so ago - immediate HF with Tripoli, better VHF with Brazza and Kinshasa, even HF with Luanda:D......................THANK YOU.......we are trying (if i can speak for all of us)
am also dreading hajj.......

ATC Watcher
16th Oct 2008, 11:40
Atco 749 :compared to then.....separation is easier......just keep your altimeters in good condition

RVSM airborne certification is more than just altimeters accuracy , but I grant you that most western aircraft flying above FL280 will most probably be cerified by now as they come/go to other RVSM areas.
What we am more concerned with is the Former Soviet Union aircraft operating in some states in Africa .

The ground element of RVSM certification is also worrying as we are told that not everyone is trained, especially in ASECNA Countries, Any truth to that ?

bugg smasher
17th Oct 2008, 06:28
I think it would be helpful for the purposes of this discussion if we all had a better idea of the nature of the beast. The last Flight International airliner census, as far as I recall, listed quite a few pre-glass, pre-history aircraft still operating in Africa. That is not to say that steam-driven airplanes are not compliance-capable, given the right engineering attention, rather just to provide a better idea of probabilities in the airspace. Does anyone out there have a current copy that lists types and fleet numbers?

The other concern already reflected numerous times here, and much more significant in my view, is that in many parts of Africa, compliance issues are not readily or easily enforced. A few handfuls of commonly traded currency are usually enough to make these types of puzzles go quietly into the deepest of dark, unresolved, and dangerously hidden to the unwary.

18th Oct 2008, 08:21
atc watcher...if you read my post correctly....i said "altimeter with.........is one of them"...... the part you quoted was in regard to "my desk" operation where one of my responsibilites is to provide separation.

From what i see on a daily basis, the antonovs,ilyushins operate at FL 180-220......but given that my FIR has few of these, the best place to check is with ARMA(AFI Regional Monitoring Agency) which is ATNS (SA Air Traffic Navigation Services) www.atns.co.za (http://www.atns.co.za)

18th Oct 2008, 10:26
Also done a few trips this week and ATC was much better especially Tripoli HF. N'djamena still hard to get initially and Kano busy as ever. I enjoy it really, can be challenging especially Abuja into lagos in the usual thunderstorms:E

3rd Nov 2008, 00:47
Non-pilot speaking.
After reading the complete thread, I asked a current FO in SAA what he thought about RVSM in Africa. My nephew replied about the situation in South Africa first and then continued:
In Africa it seems to be working, the ATC's are however very cautious regarding direct routings etc if there is any potential conflict. I'm sure it will become more familiar to them with time. I think it will be a success, provided the TCAS is working!

Interestingly a large proportion of SAA's near misses occur in European airspace with European carriers. Those that do happen in Africa are normally also involving a European carrier that is not following the correct procedure.
This confirms 411As view.

bugg smasher
3rd Nov 2008, 08:13
With all due respect to you, Non-pilot speaking, and your nephew of course, you might want to consider traffic density in European airspace; it is, by far, one of the busiest on the planet. Your apparent contention that flight operations in Africa are competent, whereas in Euro airspace they are not, well, I leave that to the judgment of my esteemed colleagues on this board.

As for 411A, he posts with the authority of an experienced professional pilot, but he seems occasionally torn between the desire to tell the truth, and the sway of a somewhat intense personal agenda, one which is only partially revealed in the occasional tidbits he chooses to offer of himself.

Reading between the lines is an arcane skill, at best, one can only guess.

3rd Nov 2008, 08:35
Paxboy did mention "South Africa" as far as operations are concerned. But I also agree that the traffic density in Europe compared to Africa or even South Africa is, well, not comparable.

If the African continent would only learn something from the Europeans/Uk Snobs, ATC there wouldn't be such a disaster........

3rd Nov 2008, 11:05
bugg smasherYour apparent contention that ...Nope, was not contending anything. Just relaying information that was another viewpoint from someone currently experiencing RVSM in Africa.

126.7 I mentioned South Africa and Africa as a whole in the context of those making the transit to Europe, which that FO is doing. I know that ATC inside South Africa is different to the rest of Africa but I express no opinion.

ATC Watcher
4th Nov 2008, 09:03
One month after it looks better that we expected, In fact it works quite well.
Main challenge is to keep the russians below FL280. We learned with dismay that a few will acknowledge the clearance but climb nevertheless to their RFL.

But regarding "Paxboy nephew" reporting that most airproxes of SAA occur in Europe, that is a general l comment that may be true in the absolute but misleading in this discussion, as this statement is not true after 25 September, and certainly not for those involving RVSM incidents. Check again.

Complexity is Europe is mitigated by good surveillance , communications , total interoperabilty, centralized Flightplanning,full backed-up technical equipments, good safety regulation , common cross border procedures. and well trained and paid controllers . All this most unfortunately lacking in Africa.

4th Nov 2008, 11:53
atco749, I stand corrected, but I understand that 2 main altimeters should be within 25 feet of each other (at QNH) on the ground, within 20 feet of airport elevation on the ground, and within 200 feet of each other prior to entry into RVSM / MNPS airspace. The last also at each WPT within RVSM / MNPS airspace , or on change of flight level.:ok:

5th Nov 2008, 14:23
My company only mentions the 200ft requirement within RVSM airspace!

( off course we have limitations for difference between Capt- F/O and standby altimeter, but they are required ALWAYS and more than the 25 ft you mention):=

15th Sep 2010, 10:48
Hi y'all, found some news on this:


Always happy landings