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The Empire Strikes Back! on Colour Defective Pilots

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The Empire Strikes Back! on Colour Defective Pilots

Old 11th Mar 2016, 19:43
  #661 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 110
CVDPA Update

Latest CVDPA update sent to members and supporters this week...

Colour Vision Update - March 2016

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Undoubtedly many of you are probably wondering what’s been happening since our last update in July 2015. Firstly, we apologise for the lack of communication since this time, however we wish to assure you that there has still been activity occurring behind the scenes. We trust that this newsletter serves as an update to inform you of recent events. More importantly, we hope that it encourages you to get involved as we need your help to reinvigorate our campaign and bring an end to the unjust discrimination that CVD pilots continue to endure.

Dr Arthur Pape

As some of you are aware, Arthur’s health has been rapidly declining over past few months due to an aggressive lung disease. Unfortunately, the condition has been so severe that he has had to stop work as a GP and DAME and he is now on 24 hour oxygen and requires an urgent lung transplant. The good news is that after extensive testing, he has made it onto the official transplant list and he is now awaiting a compatible donor organ before a transplant can occur. Please keep Arthur and his family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Arthur has devoted well over 30 years of his life for pursuing rights for CVD pilots and without his efforts, many would not be in aviation careers today. His infectious enthusiasm for the cause and his endless pursuit for ensuring regulations are evidence based continues to be the driving force behind CVDPA’s efforts as we progress into the future.

In fact, despite his declining health, Arthur delivered his most recent presentation in September 2015 to the Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine held in Adelaide. In this presentation, he once again delivered an irrefutable argument to show how CASA’s use of the CAD test as a test that “simulates an operational situation” (as required by the regulations) is both illegal and discriminatory. A video copy of this presentation is available below:


You may recall in the last update we flagged the possibility of a Federal Court challenge against CASA’s continued refusal to implement a lawful, operationally based test to satisfy the requirements of CASR 67.150 [6][c]. Since that time, CASA has continued to require applicants who fail the first two level tests (Ishihara and Farnsworth) to sit the CAD test for the purposes of compliance with sub-regulation [6][c]. Anyone who has undertaken this test will know that it does not remotely simulate any operational situation encountered in an aircraft and is therefore not compliant with the regulations.

The fact that it does not simulate an operational situation was conceded under oath by the inventor of the test, Professor John Barbur, during the O’Brien vs CASA Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) hearings in 2014. Moreover, the tribunal in this matter determined that the CAD test “did not reveal any significant new or relevant information” about Mr O’Brien’s CVD condition and they subsequently placed greater weight on his operational experience as a pilot in determining that it was appropriate for his ATPL restriction to be lifted.

Despite these findings, CASA still continue to require new CVD pilot applicants to sit the CAD test and those who fail it are being restricted to Day VFR only, or in some cases are having the issue of a Class 1 medical refused entirely. This practice goes completely against a 25+ year safety case and ignores the findings of three independent tribunals.

Over the past few months, we have attempted to constructively engage with CASA in our ongoing efforts to come to a rational, lawful and evidence based outcome. This engagement includes the correspondence below (click hyperlink):

Holding Redlich (law firm) to CASA

CASA response to Holding Redlich

CVDPA to CASA CEO Mark Skidmore

CASA CEO Mark Skidmore to CVDPA

It is important to emphasise that the comments and proposals that CVDPA outlined in letter #3 to CASA were collectively endorsed by Australia’s four major pilot associations – Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP), Virgin Independent Pilots Association (VIPA), Australian & International Pilots Association (AIPA) and the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA). Together, these organisations represent thousands of professional and recreational pilots across Australia, including many with a CVD.

Today we received a disappointing, but somewhat predictable response from CASA CEO Mark Skidmore (letter #4). It is quite clear from Mr Skidmore’s reply that CASA has no intention of considering any rational, lawful or evidence based alternative for the purposes of compliance with the regulations. Unfortunately, Mr Skidmore also refused to acknowledge our request for a further meeting to consult with us on these issues prior to making the decision he outlined in his letter.

It seems plainly obvious that CASA do not care about objective evidence or objective risk and subsequently the only viable way forward from here is a further legal challenge in the Federal Court against their unlawful use of the CAD test.

Further Demonstrable CASA Inconsistencies

To further highlight the inconsistencies in CASA’s approach, another of our members lodged an application with the Administrative Appeals Tirbunal to seek to have his own ATPL restrictions removed. This pilot’s application to the AAT was in response to the tribunal’s findings in the O’Brien v CASA matter. He is an experienced B737 First Officer working for a major airline with many years of incident free flying experience under his belt, supported by excellent results throughout his training and checking history.

Despite several years of CASA’s refusal to remove his ATPL restriction, it is clear that when legal pressure was applied and the pilot commenced proceedings at the AAT, CASA backed down as they were unwilling to risk a fourth embarrassing loss at the AAT. This particular matter progressed as far as a mediation conference, at which point CASA agreed to allow the pilot the ability to use his ATPL privileges, meaning that he may also now progress to the role of Captain in the future.

What this result appears to suggest is that CASA lack both evidence and conviction to support their own decisions, particularly with regards to denying experienced pilots the opportunity to exercise ATPL privileges. It also reinforces the fact that they are selectively targeting new aspiring CVD pilots by issuing them with medical restrictions which essentially deny them the same opportunities to enter into the industry.

CASA’s inconsistent handling of new pilot applicants versus existing experienced pilots further demonstrates that this is not a safety issue as they claim, but is a political issue motivated by prejudice.

New Zealand Colour Vision Review

The interests of CVD pilots were proudly represented in November when a group of independent experts travelled to Wellington to present to a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) panel reviewing the NZ colour vision testing procedures and policies. The panel’s task was to review all the information and to deliver a report to the CAA Director with recommendations on a proposed way forward.

The presentations to the panel provided an invaluable opportunity for experts to speak directly to the panel members and to allow them to ask questions. The primary objective was to encourage the implementation of an operational test conducted either in an aircraft or flight simulator so that CVD pilots have an opportunity to demonstrate they can perform their duties safely and can pursue careers in aviation.

Speakers included:

  • Tim Woods – Colour Vision Aviators (NZ) Administrator
  • Capt Phillip Maguire – Meeting Facilitator
  • Capt John O’Brien – CVDPA Director
  • Dr Robert Liddell – former CASA Director of Aviation Medicine
  • Associate Professor Geoff Stuart – Monash University Accident Research Centre
  • Dr Boris Crasini – Ret’d Professor of Psychology – Deakin University
  • Ryan Brookes – Director (Applied Vehicle Systems) – NZ Defence Technology Agency
A special thanks must go to Tim Woods and Phillip Maguire for their efforts in bringing all these experts together in what was a culmination of many years of work to get to this point. The presenters complimented each other by discussing the evidence through their own individual area of expertise and we are confident a positive impact was made on the day.

We still await an outcome from this process (expected within the next 1 – 2 months) and will provide an update as soon as further information comes to hand.

Additionally, Ryan Brookes also recently published a comprehensive paper which is well worth a read. It analyses the evidence and raises further questions about the suitability of current clinical test regimes. The report is available via the below hyperlink:

Colour Vision Requirements for Aircrew - DTA Report 405

The Future – Your Help Needed

Now more than ever, we need the support of members to get involved and to help reinvigorate our campaign. For the last few years, the day to day management of CVDPA has been looked after by Arthur Pape and John O’Brien, all on a voluntary basis. Particularly with Arthur’s ill health in recent times, we need your assistance in a variety of areas to help share the workload and to help us develop strategies on progressing our campaign successfully into the future.

So, what areas do we need assistance with?

  • Strategy and planning
  • Management experience
  • Marketing our message
  • Advertising
  • Political lobbying
  • Fundraising / crowdfunding
  • Legal advice
  • Finance and book keeping
  • Assistance with website reinvigoration and updates
  • Membership newsletters and communication
  • Responding to general emails and website enquiries
  • Social media including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
As you can see, there’s lots to do. Understandably we all live busy lives, but if any member has a particular area of expertise that you believe could be of assistance in helping us manage any of the above areas, we would love to hear from you. Many hands makes light work and ideally we would like to form a working committee so that responsibilities can be delegated. Please email [email protected] if you are able to contribute.

Additionally, please be reminded that CVDPA members are able to access a Members Only Forum through our website. This forum provides a convenient means for us to discuss ideas and suggestions openly with likeminded individuals. To log-in, you will require your user name and password and you are then able to contribute to discussions (anonymously if desired). If you have any difficulties logging on, please email [email protected].

With several million colour defective persons across the world, including Australia, our potential audience is huge. CVDPA has approximately 200 members, so we clearly have a lot of work to do. If we had 1000 members prepared to contribute $1000 each, we would have one million dollars – enough to fund some serious legal challenges! The evidence is very much on our side, but without funding we are unable to take the challenge right up to CASA or other authorities. Without the funding to mount a challenge in the Federal Court, this project is virtually doomed. CASA will respond to our demands only when we are prepared to back up with a serious legal challenge.

Donations can continue to be made via our website:

Your Support - Donations

Please consider what you can do to help us bring an end to this discrimination once and for all. We’re all in this together and we need your support!

brissypilot is offline  
Old 11th Mar 2016, 22:32
  #662 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Australia
Posts: 262
Saw something on, I think, Catalyst or a similar show about a pair of glasses that "cure" colour blindness allowing the wearer to see red and green as clearly as someone with normal vision. I don't suffer from colour blindness myself or know anything about it but if I was, I would be Googling these glasses.
Kelly Slater is offline  
Old 13th Mar 2016, 10:28
  #663 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: ALandDownUnder
Posts: 115
Sad to hear about Arthur's Heath.

Quick question, is the Optec 900 approved by CASA,I was under the understanding it was not but just noticed that they list locations that have them?
log0008 is offline  
Old 16th Mar 2016, 22:10
  #664 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Dunnunda
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EnChroma glasses - see reactions of people to seeing colours at https://www.reddit.com/r/enchromareactions/
outlandishoutlanding is offline  
Old 6th Apr 2016, 08:44
  #665 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2011
Age: 77
Posts: 7
Firstly let me say that I am on the side of the affected CVD pilots, but not having followed this thread for some time and not knowing just what the CAD test was, by using Mr Google's fantastic search engine I stumbled upon a Keynote address by Mr Skidmore to the "Aviation Medical Society of Victoria" delivered on 28 February 2015 in which he states among other things, the following -
"Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD)

My speech won’t be complete if I don’t touch on the delicate subject of CVD. Australia does differ from other countries in relation to the requirements surrounding CVD. Australia is more flexible in allowing applicants to sit multiple sequential tests for CVD where they record a fail and can issue a medical certificate if at any stage any of the three-level tests are passed. Most overseas regulators do not allow this level of flexibility. For example the UK does not allow for any second chances if an applicant fails their only test, the CAD test. They do not receive a Class 1 medical certificate.
In mid-2014, it was determined that the handling of pilots with CVD had not been in strict accordance with Civil Aviation Safety Regulation Part 67 (Medical). CASA advised industry of its new process relating to the regulations in June 2014. This was done to provide industry with information to assist in understanding their obligations in relation to the regulations. The new processes related to new applicants only and there were no impacts on existing pilots. In response to some of the correspondence received, CASA updated the CVD information on its website.
In February 2015, CASA had 134 Class 1 medical certificate holders and 252 Class 2 medical certificate holders who have failed the Ishihara test.
CASA is considering the Colour Assessment and Diagnosis (CAD) test as a third-level test. CASA has determined the CAD test is suitable as an aviation specific test for detecting CVD. It is used by the UK and is also available in the US as an option for testing for CVD. CAD provides for colour and diagnostic testing, which can determine the degree of colour deficiency, which is something that is currently not able to be determined by the Ishihara or Farnsworth tests.
Whilst I am not considering further changes to policy or standards at this time, any proposed changes will be consulted through the SCC Medical sub-committee. Pilots with existing CVD restrictions will require no other tests related to CVD, unless other medical reasons determine a need to do so." and here is the link -

It seems from this that pilots already "in the industry" with CVD are not to be effected by the restrictions, so it would also seem that AVMED, as usual, are making up their own rules by placing such restrictions on already operational pilots.

Have a god read of the excerpt and see if you come to the same conclusions
OzzieH4U is offline  
Old 6th Apr 2016, 12:26
  #666 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Australia/India
Posts: 3,322
Everybody already knows CASA's approach to CVD is based neither on objective evidence nor objective risk. It inevitably follows that the outcomes are patently incoherent and illogical.

Mr Skidmore's defence of CASA's return to the dark ages was the point at which his credibility plunged to zero in my judgment.
Lead Balloon is offline  
Old 8th Apr 2016, 07:47
  #667 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Australia
Age: 42
Posts: 23
Hi everyone,

Just had my medical renewed today. To my surprise DAME pulled out Ishihara's book. When i asked "why?", i was advised that this is a new CASA initiative. According to my doc - this test will be presented with every renewal.

Be prepared
ComradeRoo is offline  
Old 3rd Jun 2016, 05:45
  #668 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: In Front of My PC
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Did my renewal last week. Yes the dreaded Isihara test came out. The online system wouldn't let the AVMED doc proceed without listing errors on the plates!
Bill Smith is offline  
Old 3rd Jun 2016, 06:52
  #669 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Australia
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If existing guys are to be left alone then why are they requiring the Ishihara plates now at every medical? It looks to me like they want to know how many pilots can't read the plates, they will then know how big the "problem" is. There will be a lot more than 400. Make no mistake, if they intended to do nothing with the test results then they wouldn't bother with the test. IMHO, not one CVD pilot is safe from CASA unless you can pass the Farnsworth Lantern or the CAD, and that goes for those who have no restrictions on their medical as well.

Something is brewing and I don't like the smell of it!

Last edited by Soup Nazi; 3rd Jun 2016 at 10:12.
Soup Nazi is offline  
Old 3rd Jun 2016, 08:50
  #670 (permalink)  
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I'm sure you mean "Not one CVD PILOT is safe from CASA" 😏
Bill Smith is offline  
Old 3rd Jun 2016, 10:13
  #671 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2001
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Thanks Bill
Soup Nazi is offline  
Old 3rd Jun 2016, 14:53
  #672 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2015
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If you pass one of the other tests what happens on renewal?
logansi is offline  
Old 4th Jun 2016, 00:37
  #673 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Australia
Posts: 541
My guess is either you sit the CAD or accept the restrictions. That's a guess of course but we all know there are CVD pilots out there who had the restrictions lifted on tests that are no longer offered. The only other option is to get the cash together and run a class action in the federal court of course.

I would say they'll offer the CAD instead of the Farnsworth as well.
Soup Nazi is offline  
Old 4th Jun 2016, 01:04
  #674 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2015
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So you have to pass cad or farnsworth every year? sounds stupid considering cvd is or should be acknowledged that cvd does not change, it's not like your cones grow back.
logansi is offline  
Old 4th Jun 2016, 06:49
  #675 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Australia
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No I don't think thats where this is going, although there are other countries that do ishihara plates annually, but if they are getting everyone to do the ishihara plates there must be a reason for that.

The groups of CVD guys we have;
1. Guys who passed the plates years ago who for whatever reason can't pass them now, there could be a medical reason for this (rare) or perhaps they were just good mates with their doc.

2. The people who passed the PAPI simulation (no longer available) or, the TWR light gun test (i believe thats no longer available also).

3. The guys with restricted medicals who don't pass anything. I understand this group is around 400 pilots.

Add these three groups together (one big melting pot) and we get a bunch of guys who's CVD is not quantified by any minimum standard, and CASA like standards.

I think CASA may want to know exactly what their up against in terms of the numbers that are out there. With the new medical system its easy for them to run everyone through the Ishihara plates for their next renewal only, after that its back to normal. I think they will want to control who gets a medical based on standards.

The science around CVD and aviation supports the CVD pilots, but having no minimum standard fly's in the face of everything that CASA stands for and in fact everything that happens in aviation. I think that is the CVD pilots biggest issue in the coming years. One thing is for sure, this isn't going away anytime soon and I think its going to heat up before it cools down. I think CASA want this simplified probably into either the CAD only or plates followed by CAD. I think the Farnsworth's days are numbered.
Soup Nazi is offline  
Old 4th Jun 2016, 06:59
  #676 (permalink)  
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"but having no minimum standard fly's in the face of everything that CASA stands for".

Exactly what do CAsA stand for???....other than the personal interests of a few bureaucrats.
thorn bird is offline  
Old 5th Jun 2016, 23:59
  #677 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Omaha
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NZ CAA started a move to mandatory retesting 10 years ago. They are still pursuing this.
Very hard to find answers on their website. I did submit to the original notice.


skyjeepaviation is offline  
Old 9th Jun 2016, 21:10
  #678 (permalink)  
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NZ CAA started a move to mandatory retesting 10 years ago. They are still pursuing this.
Very hard to find answers on their website. I did submit to the original notice.
Didn't the head medical guy at CASA work at NZCAA about 10 years ago?

Might be a common link.
27/09 is offline  
Old 10th Jun 2016, 07:44
  #679 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
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Didn't the head medical guy at CASA work at NZCAA about 10 years ago?

Might be a common link.
There might be indeed...

Dr Drane (current CASA PMO) & Dr Navathe (ex CASA PMO who introduced the 2014 CVD changes) both previously worked at the NZ CAA under the supervision of Dr Watson who still remains the current NZ CAA PMO.

See page 6:

CAA News July / August 04 - Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand

Principal Medical Officer Dougal Watson joined CAA after more than a decade in the Royal Australian Air Force. Dougal holds a current PPL with approximately 600 hours, has 30 hours glider time, 22 free-fall parachute jumps, 40 hours ultralight and 15 hours dual helicopter time to his credit. He is also a novice grade hang-glider and alpine parapente pilot. Dougal says “I am happy to try and fly anything I can get near with mixed amounts of success”.

Senior Medical Officer Pooshan Navathe joined the unit after 22 years in the Indian Air Force. Pooshan holds a current Indian Glider Pilot Licence and has considerable military flying experience. He has 50 hours fighter jet time, around 1200 hours in helicopters and 750 hours military transport flying. Pooshan also holds a PhD in high altitude physiology.

Michael Drane, Medical Officer, is the newest doctor to join the CMU. Michael grew up around aeroplanes. His father is an aeronautical engineer and was involved with the Buccaneer and Concorde. Michael was taught to fly by the Royal Air Force and has approximately 50 hours, but says that “becoming a doctor in the UK largely thwarted any flying ambition!” After moving to New Zealand Michael was a GP and DME in Masterton for 10 years, servicing a very active local flying community.

Dougal is very proud of his unit's dynamic make up, “I must be the luckiest manager in the CAA. I am surrounded by one of the most competent and energetic teams I could imagine”.
In Dr Navathe's email to CASA DAME's explaining the 2014 changes, he refers to his old buddy's research:

"In the expectation you will be approached by pilot-patients with questions about this matter, I thought it would be useful to provide you with some information that can illuminate the issues and facilitate your discussions. Dougal Watson, Principal Medical Officer of the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand, has recently published an article in Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine about the differences in medical certification with respect to colour vision deficiency worldwide."

The Watson CVD paper referred above has also been presented at several AvMed conferences and highlights some concerning behaviour and attitudes for somebody in that position of authority.

Concern for PMO Bias

It's ironic that under the rule of Watson, Navathe and Drane, both NZ and Australia now have the most severe CVD restrictions seen in our two countries in many decades.
brissypilot is offline  
Old 10th Jun 2016, 09:32
  #680 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Posts: 4,942
What is ironic about it?
Entirely predictable, a Messiah and his Disciples??
Tootle pip!!
LeadSled is offline  

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