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imoore

Color Vision for PPL or higher?

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Hello,Could anyone tell me the vision requirements for my the PPL all the way up to commercial? I'm studying at Western Michigan University for Aviation Flight Science and will start flight training in January, but I just recently found out I'm partially red-green color deficient.Is that going to keep me from ever flying? :-hmmmI looked up the FAA regulations and they're very vague - something to the effect of "Color Vision: Must be able to see the colors required to perform airman duties."

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If you're a member of AOPA, give them a call and ask about it. They have some very competent and knowledgeable medical consultants that answer questions like this every day.I've never taken the 1st class medical exam, but part of the 2nd and 3rd class exam is the standard color vision test where you look at several colored plates and have to pick numerals out of a jumbled smattering of colored dots. I've never had to do it, but I've heard that if you can't pass this test, you can go to a towered airport and have the tower shine their light gun at you to verify that you can discern the red, green, and white colors they use. I don't know the details about this test, but AOPA should be able to fill you in.

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As with just about everything in the Federal government, there is a waiver available. I am not sure whether or not you would get a class 1, I suppose it depends on how bad your situation is.I guess that fits in with your statement on FARs regarding the performance of airman duties. As long as you could prove that you can differentiate between colors just like anyone else. Honestly I can't think of too many situations where it would be that big of a deal. In the cockpit it would be less of a concern because everything is labeled with text. I guess I am not sure since I have never had to deal with it, but I will tell you one thing....the availability of different medical classes depends on the DME as well.I went in for a Class II the last time and did the usual stuff. I was interested in the Class I as well, so I asked the doc as he was leaving the room if he thought I would be able to pass a Class I and he spun around and asked me if I just wanted him to go write it up as a Class I. Since I really didn't need it anyway I told him no, but I thought that was a pretty lame way to do things. Some DME's will be like that, and others will want to do things by the book.Just some food for thought.Craig

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hmm, maybe in the US the only difference is the price? :)

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Hi Ian,I just had a student who just became a private pilot who has mild blue-green color blindness and he researched this topic very carefully. About 20% of the male population has some sort of color blindness, btw.The color vision tests administered by an FAA Aviation Medical Examiner are the same for all medical certificates. The examiner will show you some color "pictures" containing letters or numbers - called the Ishihara test. If you are unable to see the letters or numbers embedded in the "pictures," the examiner will put a night flight restriction on your medical certificate. We were told that some examiners used to use an alternate test called the Farnsworth Lantern and it was reportedly easier for some people with mild blue-green color blindness to pass, but apparently the FAA now requires all examiners to use Ishihara.The so called "waiver" that was mentioned used to be called a Certificate of Demonstrated Ability (called "soda" for short), but now the FAA apparently calls this a Letter of Evidence. To get a CODA or letter of evidence for color blindness, you have to demonstrate to an FAA representative your ability to distinguish light gun signals at night under real conditions. If you ever plan to fly under part 121 or 135, FAA regulations require that you disclosure this information during the hiring process. We were told conflicting information by the local FSDO and AOPA as to whether a Letter of Evidence or CODA is only valid for 2nd and 3rd class medicals or if it will apply to 1st class as well.The UC Berkeley School of Optometry has a clinic that does color vision testing and my student went there for an evaluation. If you take, and are able to pass, a certain percentage of such tests and a doctor issues a letter, you can use it to petition the FAA to remove the night flying restriction. If you suspect you have a color blindness issue, I'd suggest you get it checked out by an optometrist BEFORE you see a medical examiner. It's much simpler if you can convince the FAA to not put a restriction on your medical than it is to get them to take a restriction off of your medical.If memory serves me, there was a landing accident involving a FedEx 727 in the midwest a few years back and the NTSB listed a contributing factor as being the 1st officer's color blindness which might have prevented him from properly interpreting the VASI. As I recall, the first officer had been issued a 1st class medical with no restrictions based on a Letter of Evidence for color blindness. Food for thought ...John

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John,Thanks for the info! I joined the AOPA yesterday (which I had been procrastinating to do) and found much more information that I could otherwise. To add to what you said about taking other tests, I guess there's 15 other tests I can try, so that's what I'll have to do.Unfortunately, with the AOPA's info as well as the FAA's info, it's so cut and dry and "hypothetical" in the descriptions. I'm glad to see some real life information from someone who has gone through a very similar experience.Thanks again!

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