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Regarding the Operational Color Vision Test


Hedge36
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Since several of my fellow students and a number of members here have asked, here's what I learned from taking the OCVT today:

 

1. For a third-class medical, you can expect to sit with the examiner showing him/her that you can differentiate airspace boundaries on a sectional. If you have difficulty with the colors, be sure you can use contextual cues and be sure to explain to the examiner how you're making your determinations. Most boundaries can be figured out without color, but you can also compare a known color (Victor airways, et cetera) with unknowns to determine what you're looking at.

 

2. If you are attempting the OCVT to remove a restriction from your second- or first-class medical, the new(er) requirement is that you fly it, in addition to the above. This helps the examiner determine your ability to recognize and correctly identify taxiway and incursion area lights on the property.

 

3. For second- or first-class, #2 means that you have to have an examiner who is rated IN TYPE to accomplish the check ride. Currently, this has to be an examiner from FSDO, but they're trying to get the requirement changed to allow for DPE rides. For fixed wing guys this probably isn't an issue, but helo drivers may have to travel to another district to pickup a qualified examiner.

 

4. Having accomplished #1, you will then march out to an area of the property 1000' from the tower. The tower is required to hit you with six lights, color of their choosing, and you need to correctly identify each one (I'm not sure what the pass/fail criteria are here). These signals are NOT standard - in other words, they aren't hitting you with CLEAR TO LAND/DO NOT LAND/USE CAUTION type signals, just individual colors. In my case this afternoon, the tower had available a high-intensity flashlight, which is MUCH brighter than the regular pull-down light gun; if this is what they use, the controller needs some assistance periodically to ensure that they're aiming the light directly at you (any elevation difference can make white and green difficult to distinguish).

 

5. Having accomplished #4, you will move back to a distance of 1500' to repeat the test. Colors are again at the controller's discretion.

 

The successful conclusion of the test yields a new medical certificate using the same number. This certificate is a companion to the one that you already have, and shows that your night restriction has been removed.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Scott

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In #2 above, you mention the requirement to "fly it". Is the flight just to have you identify taxiway lights etc or do they have you do a light gun test in flight also?

 

Also, if you are going for a second class medical but you do NOT currently have any restrictions, do you have to fly or just do the sectional and light gun tests?

 

Thanks for the post - it's hard to find info on this!

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In #2 above, you mention the requirement to "fly it". Is the flight just to have you identify taxiway lights etc or do they have you do a light gun test in flight also?

 

My impression - and this could be incorrect, don't know - is that you'll taxi around a bit, looking at lights, probably do a couple of patterns (what color are the VASI lights?), and then park, get out, and do the two-step light gun portion. From a safety standpoint it would make sense to do it that way but I'd imagine different examiners will approach it in their own way.

 

Also, if you are going for a second class medical but you do NOT currently have any restrictions, do you have to fly or just do the sectional and light gun tests?

 

If you don't have any restrictions, I don't think you'd be taking the test :D And trust me, this is a potential career-killer, so you wouldn't want to.

 

Thanks for the post - it's hard to find info on this!

 

No sweat. Most of the info I'd gotten was either out of date or just plain wrong. I'm glad to have it out of the way.

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If you don't have any restrictions, I don't think you'd be taking the test :D And trust me, this is a potential career-killer, so you wouldn't want to.

 

I don't currently have any restrictions, but I

barely

passed the test last time (my first medical). It was the test with the colored dots that are apparently arranged to form numbers. I could see the different colored dots, but struggled to make out what number they were supposed to form. He had to go and check and check what the pass/fail criteria were, and I

just

made it. I think you were allowed to get 5 wrong, and I got 4 wrong! Ever since, I have been nervous about how I'll do next time. I have heard that there are other tests that can be given (other than the colored dots), someone even suggested that an eye doctor may have more advanced or more accurate tests that may trump the AME's test.

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I don't currently have any restrictions, but I

barely

passed the test last time (my first medical). It was the test with the colored dots that are apparently arranged to form numbers. I could see the different colored dots, but struggled to make out what number they were supposed to form. He had to go and check and check what the pass/fail criteria were, and I

just

made it. I think you were allowed to get 5 wrong, and I got 4 wrong! Ever since, I have been nervous about how I'll do next time. I have heard that there are other tests that can be given (other than the colored dots), someone even suggested that an eye doctor may have more advanced or more accurate tests that may trump the AME's test.

 

Been there. I never could find the numbers in the red/green dots, and most AMEs were nice enough to let me slide. Once your AME fails you, though, you have to get a specialized eye exam using an archaic (produced in the fifties, as I recall) examination form. My optometrist laughed at it, saying the tests the FAA specified aren't even done anymore. Once you turn that back in to the AME, he'll see that you don't have any physical damage to your eye (disqualifying, anyway) and issue you a medical with a daylight-only restriction.

 

And you're well and goodly fooked at that point.

 

This is where you have to call the Civil Aeronautics Medical Institute and request that they issue an authorization letter to your local FSDO. This letter allows you to call FSDO and schedule the OCVT.

 

If he's passing you, just count yourself lucky and hope your color vision doesn't somehow degrade. And if it does, welcome to the 50% club.

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Been there. I never could find the numbers in the red/green dots, and most AMEs were nice enough to let me slide. Once your AME fails you, though, you have to get a specialized eye exam using an archaic (produced in the fifties, as I recall) examination form. My optometrist laughed at it, saying the tests the FAA specified aren't even done anymore. Once you turn that back in to the AME, he'll see that you don't have any physical damage to your eye (disqualifying, anyway) and issue you a medical with a daylight-only restriction.

 

And you're well and goodly fooked at that point.

 

This is where you have to call the Civil Aeronautics Medical Institute and request that they issue an authorization letter to your local FSDO. This letter allows you to call FSDO and schedule the OCVT.

 

If he's passing you, just count yourself lucky and hope your color vision doesn't somehow degrade. And if it does, welcome to the 50% club.

 

My AME seemed to indicate that he wouldn't test color vision at subsequent exmaniations, since color vision (according to him) is something you either have or don't have. He says it doesn't change over time, you can't fix it and short of some sort of injury, you can't lose it. I haven't been back for another medical yet to confirm whether or not he repeats the test. Other pilots I have talked to say they are tested every year. Even if he doesn't test me again, its not like he is the only AME I will ever see, so I want to be prepared in case I don't pass at some point.

 

So are you in the clear now? Do you never have to take a color vision test again? Is there any restrictions or other negative consequences to having been through this process?

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Since I doubt I'll be seeing that AME again, I'm fairly certain I'll have the color cards pulled out on my next medical exam... at which point I'll flash my "waiver" and assume that he'll not note it on the results.

 

EDIT: as long as it's not on your medical sheet, I don't think it has any repercussions. The only fear is if you CAN'T pass the exam, and then you're stuck with the daytime restriction.

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I just found some helpful info on the internet. It explains the process and what happens if you pass or fail at each stage. Check out this link

 

http://aviationmedicine.com/resources/file.../Figure%205.doc

 

If the link isn't there just cut and paste the address to your browser.

 

Here is another link with details about all kinds of medical restrictions and tests

 

http://fsims.faa.gov/wdocs/8900.1/v05%20ai...008_001rev1.htm

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Since I doubt I'll be seeing that AME again, I'm fairly certain I'll have the color cards pulled out on my next medical exam... at which point I'll flash my "waiver" and assume that he'll not note it on the results.

 

EDIT: as long as it's not on your medical sheet, I don't think it has any repercussions. The only fear is if you CAN'T pass the exam, and then you're stuck with the daytime restriction.

 

So did you not have to do the flight test?

 

Also, were you given the opportunity to take an alternate test such as the Fansworth Lantern (FALANT) test either with your AME or an eye specialist/optometrist? Or did you fail the alternate test also?

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So did you not have to do the flight test?

 

Also, were you given the opportunity to take an alternate test such as the Fansworth Lantern (FALANT) test either with your AME or an eye specialist/optometrist? Or did you fail the alternate test also?

 

My second class had degraded to a third over the year, and to keep things simple I tested to the third-class standard. Thus, no flight test this time around.

 

On the medical exam in question, the doc was pretty slack - hardly any "physical" checks (BP, ROM, et cetera), but when he pulled out the cards and I told him to put them away... POOF! He hit me with the restriction. Prick. The FALANT option wasn't even mentioned.

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My second class had degraded to a third over the year, and to keep things simple I tested to the third-class standard. Thus, no flight test this time around.

 

On the medical exam in question, the doc was pretty slack - hardly any "physical" checks (BP, ROM, et cetera), but when he pulled out the cards and I told him to put them away... POOF! He hit me with the restriction. Prick. The FALANT option wasn't even mentioned.

 

 

OUCH! He doesn't sound like a friendly AME...

 

for what it's worth here is a few link I found for a company that apparently helps pilots deal with the FAA regarding medical issues or deficiencies.

 

http://www.leftseat.com/colorvision.htm

 

Also, the following link seemed to have good information - seems very current, as they talk about changes made in summer 2008.

 

http://www.aviationmedicine.com/articles/i...mp;articleID=31

 

I'm very sorry to hear about your experience. According to the first link above, it sounds like if your AME had offered the FALANT option (assuming you also passed the FALANT test) you wouldn't have had to go through the whole OCVT drama. I'm not saying that to rub your nose in anything, I'm just trying to learn.

 

My understanding is that it used to be that if you failed the Ishihara plate test given by an AME, you could go and take a different test (such as FALANT) with an optometrist and if you passed you were golden. If you failed the alternate test with the optometrist, THEN you would go and take the light gun test. If you failed the light gun test, then you were permanently restricted, however if you passed you were given a permanent waiver. It sounds like the recent changes essentially eliminate the middle stage of taking an alternate test with an optometrist - if you fail the test the AME gives you, you have to go and take the light gun test (plus sectional test, and flight test if applicable) to remove any restriction.

 

SO, if what I understand is correct, and you have marginal color vision, your best bet is to go to an AME that administers the FALANT. The link below takes you to a page where you can enter your city and state etc, and they will send you a list of practitioners who administer the FALANT test. I put in my details just now and will post a comment when I get their list. I am not sure yet if it is a list of AME's or just practitioners, such as optometrists. If the practioner is not an AME, perhaps you could go and take the FALANT test before your flight medical, so you can take the results with you to your flight physical. Otherwise your AME would have to fail you, then you are back in the same boat of trying to get the restriction removed, and that only seems to be possible now by taking the light gun test and OCVT process.

 

http://www.leftseat.com/falant.htm

 

If anyone else out there has info on this, your input would be greatly appreciated. This is a pretty frightening situation for a lot of people with marginal color vision, myself included. I have never had an issue telling red from green position lights, and have very little trouble telling magenta from blue on a sectional, however if you fail the test with your AME and have to take the OCVT - that's your last shot. Fail that and your done. Scary...

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