Can I be color blind and still be a pilot?
Yes, you can potentially be color blind and become an airline pilot, however, it depends on the severity and what colors you may or may not recognize.
About 1 in 12 men are color blind and about 1 in 200 women are color blind. Color blindness is usually genetic, but it can be acquired with age or disease. Many people don’t realize they are color blind until they pass their first pilot medical evaluation.
Your color vision will be assessed during your first class 1 medical evaluation (a requirement to be a commercial airline pilot) through the Ishihara test. You will be presented with 24 plates and you must indicate precisely which number is visible in each plate. They are presented in random order. If you get the first 15 vouchers in a row, you are considered to have passed the test.
This test determines if you have the color vision requirements to operate a commercial aircraft. If you fail the Ishihara test, you will receive additional tests to see if you are color safe. Details of this can be found on the UK ACA website.
Until 2013, a pilot was automatically rejected for a class 1 medical examination if he was color blind. Thanks to advances in color vision testing, it is possible to accurately assess an individual’s level of color blindness. Provided you meet the minimum color vision standard, even if you are partially color blind, it is possible to receive a class 1 medical certificate.
Try the color blindness test below to see if you’ll pass the test. In all but 3 circles, you should be able to identify the number embedded in the circle with no problem. If you can’t identify the number, it’s likely an indication that you’re color blind. To confirm you’ve seen the correct number, hover your cursor over the white circle with a number to reveal the hidden number.