It’s been quite a while since our last update, but rest assured that work has been ongoing behind the scenes now for some time. We are pleased to advise that these lobbying efforts culminated last week with CASA CEO Shane Carmody announcing the most significant shift in Australian colour vision policy in over three decades.
CVDPA congratulates CASA on the below announcement which finally recognises what we have been arguing all along. Whilst it should never have taken this long and Australia shouldn’t have needed to wait for the New Zealand CAA to lead the way with their changes last year, it is however a result that we are very pleased with and one which opens the door for all current and aspiring CVD pilots to reach their full career ambitions.
The CASA Briefing – February 2020
A solution has been found to a somewhat thorny and long-running issue that is important to a group of pilots. The issue is colour vision deficiency and the way CASA manages safety related assessments as part of the medical certification process. Colour vision deficiency affects about 400 Australian pilots and a three-stage testing process has been in place for some time, with a pass at any stage allowing an unrestricted medical to be issued. Where all three tests are failed then a medical certificate can be issued subject to conditions.
Research in recent years has shown relying on diagnostic tests alone may be unnecessarily limiting when considering the impact of colour vision deficiency on aviation safety. Advances in technology, operating techniques and human factors training can now mitigate many of the safety risks of colour vision deficiency. Technology to assist pilots has developed significantly and the impact of colour vision deficiency on aviation safety should take these changes into account. These factors have been recognised overseas, most recently in New Zealand where a new approach to colour vision deficiency came into effect in May 2019, which includes an operational colour vision assessment. This assessment comprises a ground-based assessment and an in-flight assessment which looks at a pilot’s ability to interpret visual information. A separate assessment is done for day flying and for night flying.
We have decided to adopt this approach to colour vision deficiency assessment and in the short term we will recognise the New Zealand operational colour vision assessment as an alternative to Australia’s current third level of testing. Work is already well underway on the development of an Australian operational test for colour vision deficiency by mid-2020. Any Australian pilots who wish to use the New Zealand assessment can do so now, although it will require travel to that country. CASA has carefully examined all relevant safety issues and believes this new approach offers a practical alternative assessment for colour vision deficient pilots. We have listened to the views of pilots and made judgements based on research and evidence.