Are pilots of Light Sport Aircraft within the FAA's jurisdiction required to have color vision? Do colorblind LSA pilots have to take the Operational Color Vision Test (OCVT)? Without the requirement for a medical certificate, where does any testing or certification for color vision come into play?


What I assume you are talking about is the drivers license medical loop here in the US that allows you to fly LSA aircraft with only holding a Drivers License (in lieu of a medical certificate). You can find the full regulation here but there are a few things you should know.

First off you need to see what your local state requires (since drivers licenses are issued by states not a federal body like pilots licenses). If your state has color blind restrictions on drivers licenses you may have an issue

(i) Comply with each restriction and limitation imposed by that person's U.S. driver's license and any judicial or administrative order applying to the operation of a motor vehicle;

If you are stepping down from larger planes into LSA planes you can not use the drivers license if you have ever lost a medical cert

(iii) Not have had his or her most recently issued medical certificate (if the person has held a medical certificate) suspended or revoked or most recent Authorization for a Special Issuance of a Medical Certificate withdrawn; and

The catch all clause that may make the colorblind condition an issue is the last requirement in the FAR

(iv) Not know or have reason to know of any medical condition that would make that person unable to operate a light-sport aircraft in a safe manner.

There are lots of light signals used in aviation that a red/green color blind person would have issues with. According to this article color blind LSA pilots are restricted from flying into where color light signals may be used (these signals include but are not limited to tower light signals and ground based warning lights like those in the DC area). If your state issues you a color blind restriction on your drivers license it holds here as well,

Of course, any limitations placed on the driver's license would also apply to flying, and a person must always be physically able to perform the flight safely.

Furthermore it seems that according to this article you can have the restrictions lifted if you can pass a color blind test (I assume this applies to both the LSA restrictions as well as the regular PPL restrictions)

  • $\begingroup$ The article says that stating that sport pilots may not operate in B/C/D airspace was a mistake, and the answer corrects it: In the October 2009 "Ask EAA's Experts" column, we stated that a person could not fly into Class B, C or D airspace as a sport pilot if he or she is colorblind, even with the proper endorsements. We're not sure how or why we said that, but the only restriction should have been that the colorblind sport pilot might not be allowed to fly into an area requiring interpretation of light gun signals. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Nov 10 '15 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ Bit of pedantry here: is it that the pilot can't fly into B, C, or D airspace (because lights may be used), or can't fly into the airspace if lights are being used $\endgroup$
    – CGCampbell
    Nov 10 '15 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ I know in the DC space they are used to alert you so there is always a chance they may be directed at you. I would assume its a "May be used situation" similarly towers use light signals if coms are down which is another "may be" situation. $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Nov 10 '15 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ @CGCampbell The restriction on the 3rd class medical if you fail the plate test and light gun signal test is Not valid for night flying or color signal control. - so you couldn't fly into a controlled airport with a dead radio expecting light gun signals (even if you'd pre-arranged clearance through/into the required airspace without the radio you're not eligible to fly by "color signal control"). The same logical restriction would apply to Sport Pilots: If the regs would require you to interpret "color signals" you can't perform that operation. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Nov 10 '15 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ I had this restriction on my medical and had it removed after I took the light gun test. It consists of reading a sectional and getting 12 out of 12 light signals from the tower right (6 from 1000ft distance, 6 from 1500ft). For me personally this was rather easy. For a class one/ two medical, you also need to take a flight with the examiner to make sure you can positively identify good or bad emergency landing sites. $\endgroup$ Nov 10 '15 at 19:29

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