New Zealand Lifts Restrictions for Pilots with Impaired Colour Vision


Air New Zealand 787-9 Dreamliner (© Air New Zealand)

Every year, thousands of aspiring pilot’s careers are cut short due to Colour Vision Deficiency, commonly referred to as CVD or Colour Blindness. However, for New Zealand Pilots, the restrictive rules imposed on New Zealand’s colour vision deficient (CVD) pilots will cease. From May 31st 2019, this will end the long six years of campaigning by pilots and the aviation industry as a whole.


The new regulations will enable pilots with impaired colour vision to exhibit capability through examinations and flight tests if they fail colour vision tests.


New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) director, Graeme Harris, said the changes reflected a progression in operational policy towards these pilots in that they could safely operate aircraft, regardless of their CVD.


“There is evidence that the majority of colour vision deficient pilots pose no greater safety risk than their normally sighted colleagues, as long as they are tested, and pass an appropriate assessment,” Harris said.

The new policy would align closely with that acquired by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).


CVD is a condition where individuals cannot determine differences between certain colours. It is quite common and affects about eight per cent of men and 0.5 per cent of women.


Under the new policy, pilots with CVD will be able to apply to undertake a new operational colour vision assessment (OCVA) and, if successful, can have restrictions removed on their Class 1 and Class 2 medical certificates.


Pilots with the mildest form of CVD would be eligible for unrestricted medical certification in New Zealand, while those with more severe cases will still be able to fly, however, with restrictions to their medical certificates that prevent them from operating in and out of controlled aerodromes without a radio, at night, or while carrying passengers on air operations, although, on successful completion of a practical operational flight assessment the last two restrictions can be removed.


The change was expected to ease the pilot shortage in New Zealand, while also allowing Australian pilots with CVD to fly in and out of NZ airspace, unrestricted by any regulations.

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