Colour Vision Defective Pilots Association

Privileges of CVD Pilots by Country

LICENCE TYPEPRIVATE PILOT (PPL)COMMERCIAL PILOT (CPL)AIR TRANSPORT PILOT (ATPL)
TYPE OF FLYING VFR Day VFR Night Airwork Charter First Officer (Co-Pilot) Captain
COUNTRY AUTHORITY            
Argentina ANAC Yes - - - - -
Australia CASA Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No (1)
Brazil ANAC Yes No No No No No
Canada TC Yes No No No No No
Ireland IAA / JAA Yes No No No No No
France DGAC / JAA Yes No No No No No
India DGCA Yes - - - - -
Netherlands MVW / JAA Yes No No No No No
New Zealand CAA Yes No Yes No No No
Spain EASA / JAA Yes No No No No No
Portugal INAC / JAA Yes No No No No No
UK CAA / JAA Yes No Yes No No No
UK EASA / JAA Yes (3) No No No No No
USA FAA Yes No Yes Yes No No

Notes

  1. Australia:  Eligible to use full ATPL privileges (Captain of a Multi-Crew aircraft) only if one of several colour vision tests is passed, including Ishihara Plate Test, Farnsworth Lantern Test, Control Tower Signal Light Test or Practical Lantern Test.  If you pass any one of these tests, you will be granted a full unrestricted medical.
  2. Canada:  Valid daylight only, 2 way radio required at controlled airspace
  3. UK EASA:  Can instruct using a PPL and be paid.
  4. Brazil:  Eligible to use full ATPL privileges (Captain of a Multi-Crew aircraft) only if a colour vision test is passed, including Ishihara Plate Test, Farnsworth Lantern Test, Beynes Lantern Test,  Holmes-Wright Lantern Test, Spectrolux Lantern test or Anomaloscope.  There is also a Recognition test of basic colors through the presentation of skeins of yarn (Holmgren's Wool Test for colour blindness) and should easily recognise the colours used in aviation (red, green, amber and white). This former test is actually very simple to pass.

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KEY MEANING
ATPL Air Transport Pilot Licence.  Required to exercise privileges of pilot in command of a multi-crew aircraft (ie. Airline Captain).
CPL Commercial Pilot Licence. Required to exercise privileges of pilot in command of a single-pilot aircraft (typically general aviation operations).  Also minimum requirement for an Airline Co-Pilot (First Officer).
VFR Visual Flight Rules – flight by visual reference to the ground or water (ie. in good weather conditions).

Australia

Background

Australia has benefited by the work of Dr Arthur Pape over the last 25 years. Australia has thousands of private and commercial CVD pilots flying safely by day and night. They fly all types of aircraft from small single engine planes to Boeing’s & Airbus’s with major airlines. We are fortunate we have such a strong and easily accessible court system. The Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) can overturn any decision made by a government body.  It is apparent from overseas experiences that the aviation medical departments of other countries believe we have a weak court system for letting our regulatory authority decisions be overturned by allowing CVD pilots to fly. Typically, these other countries have decision review processes performed by the aviation authority itself - which is just a means of dealing the same logic. Of course, they can rest peacefully knowing that no individual CVD person can afford to take the government department to the High Courts.  Australia leads the way in colour vision reform by virtue of the fairness and accessibility of its court systems.  For your first Australian aviation medical examination, the order of events will be as follows: 

  1. Initial colour vision screening by Ishihara Plates
  • If step one (1) is failed, you will be referred to a Designated Aviation Ophthalmologist who will administer:
  1. Farnsworth Lantern Test (FALANT) which has pass or fail result.
  2. Diagnosis with instrument called an Anomalascope
  • If the above steps are failed, you have the final option of undertaking a ‘practical’ test which includes both:
  1. Aviation Signal Light Test (ASLT)  (refer to pages 8-9 for testing procedure)
  2. Practical Lantern Test (PLT)

These final two tests are only possible since Arthur Pape's win at the Australian AAT which in its closing remarks, recommended CASA introduce a ‘practical’ test for CVD’s which ‘simulate an operational situation’. The control tower Aviation Signal Light Test uses colour filters designed not to be difficult for CVD people to determine (unlike the other clinical tests). CASA charge approximately $200 for the test and you will be shown 6 lights in total (3 individual lights from 300m and 3 lights from 500m). This can include any combination of red, green or white lights and a 100% pass is required. Many CVD affected pilots can pass this test, however it is important that you request the test be conducted at twilight/night which is what CASA themselves recommend. Conducting the test in the middle of a bright sunny day can drastically reduce your chances of passing.

The Practical Lantern Test can only be conducted at the Victorian College of Optometry in Melbourne. The test is supposedly designed to simulate a PAPI. Many pilots however report this test as being more difficult to pass than the Signal Light Test and state that it does not in any way replicate a real-life PAPI. There is a strong argument that these two ‘practical’ tests do not reflect an ‘operational situation’ as recommended by the AAT and there is currently a further appeal underway to challenge these tests.

If you fail any of these above tests, you will still be able to operate using full CPL privileges day or night, VFR or IFR. Effectively, this will allow you to fly any single pilot aircraft as pilot in command. It will also enable you to progress to the rank of an airline First Officer (as only a CPL is required to be a co-pilot). Your medical will have the following restrictions:

  • Not valid for ATPL operations

  • Holder does not fully meet the requirements of ICAO Convention Chapter 6 of Annex 1 (limits you to flying in Australian airspace only)

If you pass any of the above tests, you will be granted a full unrestricted class one medical!