Colorblindness Cited As Possible Factor In FedEx Crash

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Colorblindness Cited As Possible Factor In FedEx Crash The NTSB is looking into a pilot's colorblindness as a possible cause of the crash of a FedEx plane in Tallahassee in July 2002, the St. Petersburg Times reported last week. The first officer may have failed to distinguish red lights in the Precision Approach Path Indicator beside the runway, which should have shown that the Boeing 727 was dangerously low, the newspaper reported, citing NTSB documents. The cargo plane crashed one-half mile short of the runway and exploded in a fireball. The three pilots on board escaped. The pilots have said the lights never gave a red warning.

The first officer failed a color test in 1995 but was given a waiver from the FAA, the Times said, and failed again in a test given after the crash. William Walsh, captain of the FedEx flight, told the Times the approach-path lights indicated they were making a safe descent. "Everything visual that we saw told us we were on glide path," he said. An attorney for the first officer said his vision problem is limited to blue and green colors, and would not affect his ability to distinguish red lights. The lawyer blamed malfunctioning lights for the crash, but the NTSB said their investigation could find nothing wrong with the lights.