The aviation industry is one that’s filled with many professionals who help to facilitate the transportation of people and goods from one destination to another.
One of the most important professionals in this industry is the pilot.
Without the pilot and his expertise, transportation by air will be impossible.
The pilot is responsible for flying the aircraft and ensuring that all protocols are duly observed to ensure a smooth flight.
However, being a pilot is not just about going to aviation school and learning how to fly an airplane.
You must be physically, mentally, and psychologically fit to do the job. You must also have clear eyesight that can identify various navigation signs and colors.
These can only be achieved if you can successfully pass various medical tests.
A disability like blindness could be a hindrance for a person aspiring to become a pilot.
But can a color-blind person become a pilot?
I’ll proffer answers to this question as you read on.
Table of Contents
- What Does Color Blindness Entail?
- Types of Color Blindness
- Causes of Color Blindness
- Is Color Blindness Curable?
- Can a Color-Blind Person Become a Pilot?
- Color Blindness Certifications to Become a Pilot
- Types of Color Blindness Tests
What Does Color Blindness Entail?
Color blindness is also known as defective color vision or color vision deficiency.
It is usually a genetic eye condition in which a person is unable to see or differentiate between certain types of colors like green, red, blue, and yellow.
It is a condition that affects both genders but is often very prevalent in men.
Types of Color Blindness
1. Red-green color blindness
This type of color blindness is subdivided into 4 major types. They include the following:
This type makes the color red look green.
It is the opposite of Protanomaly. It makes green look like red. And it’s one of the commonest types of color blindness.
Another name for deuteranopia is green-blind. It doesn’t allow you to identify the color green.
This is also known as red-blind. It prevents you from being able to identify the color red.
2. Blue-yellow color blindness
This is divided into two main types. They are:
It makes colors look less bright and doesn’t allow you to differentiate between colors yellow, blue, pink, green, and purple.
This color deficiency makes it hard for you to differentiate between colors red and yellow and between colors green and blue.
This is the rarest type where a person suffers from complete color deficiency. People who suffer from this type of blindness only see things in black and white.
Causes of Color Blindness
Even though color blindness is primarily inherited from the genes of one’s parent, it can also be acquired through any of the following.
Different types of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, cataract, Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration, sickle cell anemia, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and leukemia can lead to color blindness.
As you grow older, you might experience a deficiency in color vision. Blue-yellow color blindness is most common with old age.
Injury to the eye
An accident, stroke, or trauma to parts of the brain or the eye’s optic nerve can cause color blindness.
The consumption of alcohol may result in lesser color discrimination in your eyes.
Taking certain types of drugs, like chloroquine, has a side effect that can cause color blindness.
Exposure to chemicals
If your eyes are exposed to chemicals like carbon disulfide, lead, and organic solvents, the aftermath of such exposure could result in color blindness.
Is Color Blindness Curable?
Presently, there is no cure or treatment for color blindness.
However, there are contact lenses and glasses that can help you to filter color deficiencies.
Can a Color-Blind Person Become a Pilot?
Yes, it’s possible for a person who is color-blind to become a pilot. This, however, depends on the severity of the color blindness and the type of color(s) affected.
The aviation industry makes use of different types of colors. The most prominent of them all are red, green, yellow/orange, white, and blue.
These colors are germane in the aviation industry because they perform various functions, which include the following:
- They enable you to know operating ranges for aircraft instrumentation
- They enable you to read the data on aeronautical charts
- They help you to differentiate between the taxiway, runway, and approach lights
- They help you to identify light gun signals and aircraft navigation lights
Therefore, the ability to differentiate between the aforementioned colors can qualify you to become a pilot.
However, this can only be possible after you successfully pass the series of tests that will be conducted when you go for your Aviation Medical Examination (AME).
If a person fails to identify or differentiate between the aviation colors, it could lead to drastic consequences or even result in a collision when flying a plane.
Consult an optician if you’re unsure about your color blindness.
This will help you to determine if you’re color-blind before pursuing a career in aviation.
It will also enable you to know if the time and money you’ll be spending on pursuing an aviation career will be worthwhile or not.
Color Blindness Certifications to Become a Pilot
Many years ago, people who have color blindness were automatically disqualified from doing jobs that are color-related, like being a pilot.
The advancement in modern technology has, however, made it possible for people who are color-blind to become pilots.
This is made possible due to the various tests that can be done to determine the level of severity of color blindness.
The aviation authority in your state will conduct some vision tests on you to know how much you can differentiate between the major colors used in the aviation industry.
Your ability to pass the tests will determine whether you can become a private or commercial pilot. Or none, if you don’t pass them.
These tests are linked to a pilot’s Aviation Medical Certificate, which includes the following:
First Class Medical Certificate
This test is meant for Airline Transport Pilots. The medical requirements it contains are very strict.
It is issued to you after you’ve successfully passed all eye tests. It indicates that you can perceive all the colors that can make you perform your duties as a pilot.
Second Class Medical Certificate
This is issued to commercial pilots and has stringent requirements like the first-class medical certificate.
Third Class Medical Certificate
It is aimed at private pilots, recreational pilots, and student pilots. It has less difficult requirements.
Types of Color Blindness Tests
Many tests can be used to determine color blindness and its severity. It all depends on the type your Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) decides to use.
Some of them include:
- Titmus Vision Tester
- Ishihara Pseudoisochromatic Plates: 24-plate edition
- OPTEC 900 Vision Tester and Farnsworth Lantern Test
- Keystone Orthoscope
- OPTEC 2000 Vision Tester
- Dvorine Pseudoisochromatic Plates (second edition)
- Operational Color Vision Test (OCVT)
- Medical Flight Test (MFT)