If someone with no night vision were in the cockpit of a nocturnal flight, that person's situation would resemble Instrument Flight Rules. Am I correct? So:

  1. In theory, can someone lacking night vision operate an aircraft with no more danger than a pilot on IFR?

  2. Can someone lacking night vision get a pilot's licence?

An answer that is valid for India, China, EU or the US is appreciated

  • $\begingroup$ Add jurisdiction please $\endgroup$
    – ymb1
    May 12 at 12:18
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You still have to see to take off, land, and do ground operations. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    May 12 at 12:19
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Are there people with “no night vision” as a permanent condition? I’ve never heard of that, but if so, I’d expect it to be handled by a limitation on their medical certificate. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    May 12 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ If your vision is so bad that you can not see at night, then it would also be compromised during the day, and you could not hold a medical certificate. This question should be closed. $\endgroup$ May 12 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeSowsun How would it be compromised in the day? $\endgroup$
    – Abdullah
    May 12 at 13:57

The name of the condition is nyctalopia. I found it mentioned by the UK's CAA (sorry it doesn't match your array of jurisdictions, but maybe this information will lead to more):

If the pilot is found to have a demonstrable nyctalopia, a medical flight or simulator test may be required, depending on the degree of severity. For pilots with demonstrated nyctalopia enough to cause concerns for night flying, a VCL limitation will be required.


"VCL" being a daytime-only limitation, which would typically not allow a Class 1.


US-based answer, and I'm not a doctor.

I don't know what "no night vision" actually means. But let's assume you mean someone has some kind of difficulty seeing clearly in low lighting conditions (again, whatever that means). You seem to be asking two questions here: is night vision important for pilots; and can someone with limited night vision get a medical?

At least theoretically, night vision only matters to pilots who fly at night. I know several pilots who have daytime-only restrictions on their medicals because of limited color vision. I assume (but don't know) that if someone had a hypothetical condition that meant they could see perfectly during the day but not at night, the medical examiner could issue the same limitation:

Not valid for night flying or color signal control.

You suggested that a pilot with poor night vision could just fly on instruments at night, but they have to get the aircraft to the runway first. And takeoff and landing both require visual cues, including seeing airport lighting at night. If the pilot really has difficulties seeing at night, it isn't obvious how they could safely operate an aircraft on the ground, never mind in the air.

As for a medical, I couldn't find anything in the FAA's medical standards about low light vision specifically, but there is some general wording that seems like it could apply:

Congenital or acquired conditions (whether acute or chronic), of either eye or adnexa that may interfere with visual functions

I have no idea how a medical examiner would address any issues. They might have to defer the case to the FAA for review.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.