I'm 23 years old and I have red-green colour vision deficiency. I'm currently working in engineering but I have my PPL and I've been interested in commercial flying for a very long time. I've always assumed I'll be unable to get the medical needed to follow a flying career anywhere.

I wonder if there are any opportunities for flying purely in VFR, i.e. Bush flying and that sort of thing, where all flying takes place during daylight hours? Are there any airlines or other flying companies that I'd have a chance with?

Thanks, any input is really helpful :)

PS: my location is the United Kingdom.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Aviation.SE! Please add your location to the question using the edit button as the answer will likely depend on it. $\endgroup$
    – Notts90
    Jul 8, 2017 at 19:36
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know how color deficiency is handled in the UK, but if you were in the US, I would advise you not to assume that you cannot fly commercially with your color deficiency. I would instead tell you to try for the highest class medical you can get with your deficiency. Here in the US I could not pass the usual color test for a 1st class medical, so they granted me a waiver based on passing a practical test, i.e. seeing correctly lights flashed at me from the tower. The waiver was permanent; I only had to do the practical test once over the course of many medical renewals $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Jul 9, 2017 at 1:31
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the reply :) that's very interesting. When I did my class 2 medical, they recommended I take a 'CAD test' which is supposedly one of the more recent non-Ishihara tests. I think I'll take it as soon as I can just to see what they say. Even if I fail, perhaps I can get a professional opinion on what options I have left. $\endgroup$
    – george7378
    Jul 9, 2017 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ The CAD test is a computerised test that is tailored to aviation. Some people who fail the Ishihara can still pass the CAD test so you should definitely give it a shot. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Jul 10, 2017 at 8:30
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know enough about UK aviation to post an answer but it's not known for it's GA industry. You might be able to get an instruction job outside of those mass-production schools (the ones tied to airlines). If you're willing to move internationally you might have a better shot, like the Brits in this show: uktvplay.uktv.co.uk/shows/bush-pilots/watch-online $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Jul 10, 2017 at 8:37

1 Answer 1


There is another test, called the Farnsworth Lantern test, which you can take. Not many aviation medical examiners have the lantern, so you might have to ask around, but if they have it and you can pass with that, you meet the medical criteria.

The waiver that Terry discusses is the SODA (or statement of demonstrated ability). I had to get one for nearsightedness when I got my Class I, which consisted of a trip to the local flight standards office, a checkride with the FAA inspector who agreed I could fly just fine with my fully corrected 20/15 but uncorrected >20/200 vision. There are plenty of airline pilots floating around with waivers of this type.

  • $\begingroup$ The FALANT is not a reliable test - the likely reason so few AMEs are equipped to administer it is that it frequently misses even dangerously-severe degrees of colorblindness. $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Dec 22, 2021 at 17:36

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