Hi Captain Lim,
I have a slight color deficiency and I have gone to see a specialist. I have just taken a Farnsworth100 Hue Test yesterday and I am still waiting for the results.
The doctor told me that he would advise against pursuing a career as a pilot. He based it on the fact that an airline could hire someone without a deficiency, so why hire me? What I would like to know is, being color deficient, affect the job of a pilot? Has there been any accidents caused by a color-deficient pilot? Some pilots today are color deficient without even knowing that they are and still fly pretty well. Am I right? -
Before I answer your question, let me elaborate a little bit on what is color blindness. Some aspiring pilots are unaware that they are colorblind until they undertake a medical examination, usually from a pilot recruitment procedure. This news can be quite traumatic to one whose lifelong experience is to be a commercial pilot.
What then is color blindness? Will this defect get worse? Can this medical problem be cured?
Color blindness can either be inherited or acquired. Color deficient people tend to confuse some colors or may totally miss others. A colorblind person actually sees only black, white and shade of gray. Man has a higher prevalence of color deficiencies (about 8 % or 11 million US males) whereas females have less color blindness problems (about 2 % or 1.4 million women).
Sometimes the use of certain medication has been associated with color confusion, notably the color blue and yellow. Exposure to industrial toxins, especially to crop duster pilots, aging and high blood pressure are contributory causes to those acquired color deficiencies problems.
FAA medical check emphasized more on the red/green tests because of potential concern for those individuals misinterpreting the light signals on runways, taxi, VASI lights and aircraft position lights.
Sometime a borderline candidate might not pass a FAA test yet pass a proper administered test given under defined lightings conditions. This standard differs from a military pilots and commercial pilots.
The Guidelines for Medical Examiners states "If an applicant meet the color vision standard ... but is otherwise qualified, the examiner may issue a medical certificate bearing the limitation ‘Not valid for night flying or by color signal control'.
Can color blindness be cured? Well, if it is inherited, it may be treated, but if it is acquired, it may be, depending on changing of the medications or totally eliminating direct contact with the toxins.
So, if you are color blind, you may not pass the medical test for the initial commercial pilot training. As you know, the medical examination for airline entry is quite stringent as compared to other profession and recognition of colors is very important when flying in the air or taxiing on the ground.
I am not sure as to whether a color deficient pilot has caused any accidents yet. Anyway, he would have been screened out in the regular aircrew medical examinations before he could have caused any untoward accidents.