NTSB Wants Color-Blindness Tests Studied

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The NTSB is suggesting the FAA review its standards for color blindness in light of its investigation into the crash of a FedEx Boeing 727 in Florida in 2002. The NTSB found that the flying pilot, the first officer, had a color-vision deficiency that made it hard for him to tell the difference between the red and white lights on the Precision Approach Pathway Indicator (PAPI) system at Tallahassee Airport. The plane ended up clipping trees on approach. The first officer had an FAA waiver for his color blindness and now the NTSB wants the agency to revisit its policy on such waivers. The NTSB is recommending the FAA conduct research into the effectiveness of its current color-vision tests to see if they do the job of keeping people out of the cockpit who might not be able to discern the color cues that convey sometimes-vital flight information. The board also suggests the research look into the effects of mild hypoxia and the time it takes to react to color cues during emergency situations. Once the results of the research are in, the NTSB wants the FAA to test all first- and second-class medical applicants at least once to ensure that those with color-related impairment that could cause problems during flight don't get certificated without limitations.