1st Class Medical Certificate with color-blind limitation


My first post here. Aspiring ATP Student.

So I just had the 1st class medical cert issued, but I couldn’t read the numbers on the color plates and there is that “Not valid for night flying or by color signal control” limitation on the certificate.

There’s 2 ways to remove this:

  1. Find an alternative AME to get tested with a different test rather than the color plates.
  2. Do the OCVT and the MFT test with the FAA.

The ideal way to remove this limitation is to be tested with the FAA, which will require me to actually fly the plane with an inspector & instructor which could happen during flight school, if passed they’ll issue a LoE and will be a thing of the past but if I don’t (after two attempts) that will be imposed there forever which will not let me work commercially.

What do you guys think?
If I want to enroll in ATP, I will need to take out a 95K loan & Quit my job. This limitation is certainly putting me in a very complicated risky choice.

Thanks for reading and your comments will be very much appreciated.


I am sorry to hear about the color blind issue, I am sure that is very frustrating.

There really is no dilemma for you as far as ATP is concerned as they will not accept you into the program with that limitation on your medical certificate. The last thing that ATP wants to do is take your money, train you, and then have you not be able to obtain the job that you desire. So until you get the limitation removed, ATP and any associated loans are not an issue at all.

Now, as to your limitation, if you chose to go flying with the FAA, you will need to do that with a local flight school as again, ATP will not take you through the loan application promise on the hope that you can get the limitation removed. I would lean towards taking the test with the FAA as you could permanently have the limitation removed. If you fail the test with the FAA, then it is for good reason (while still disappointing) as the ability to see different colors is incredibly important in aviation. There are serious safety issues involved in this, so you really need to be able to differentiate between different colors.

I wish you the best on this, let us know how it turns out, please.


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Google the “Farnsworth Lantern Test”. My understanding (verify this with your AME) is that if you pass this test you are issued a document that satisfies the color blind test on the First Class Medical forever. Because the level of color blindness doesn’t change over time once the test is passed it’s essentially over. My information is about 5 years old but I have a close friend in the Airlines that told me about this.

Again, look into it fully but it could be an easier option than an expensive flight with the FAA.

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There’s a clinic in Phoenix - AZ that has pretty much all the FAA approved colorblind tests. Make an appointment for the “color vision consultation” and get yourself tested before you do this flight with the FAA.

Most people with mild colorblindness can easily pass the Farnsworth lantern test or the Optec 900.

If you pass them you’re good to go, just make sure to take the same test every year to renew your medical.

Check out their website:



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It looks like the FAA changed this rule in 2008. According to AOPA website, my understanding is, if your medical was issued after 2008, you have to take a test every time you renew your medical.

“FAA made some changes to color vision testing in July 2008. If you hold a statement of demonstrated ability (SODA) or a letter of evidence that was issued before July 2008, your color vision waiver is grandfathered, and you will not be required to test according to the new procedures described below.”

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Can you easily identify light colors? For example; can you clearly tell that a red light at a stop light is red and a green is a green? Go to an airport at night and confirm you can see the difference between the green and white rotating beacon. Also, confirm the same for the other lights around the airport. Can you identify all the different color types? If you can do this then passing the FAA test should be no problem for you.

I had a similar issue back before I received my private. My first third class medical was issued with the no night flying restriction, so my flight instructor ran me through a few color tests to verify I was fine (like the ones I mentioned above). After that the flight school helped coordinate with the FSDO to have an FAA instructor come out and conduct the signal light test with me. I passed with no issues, was issued a SODA and that was the end of it. All in it ended up adding about two months and around eight hours of flight training while I waited on the FSDO’s availability. The test itself was actually very easy and only took a few minutes. I see it might be slightly more involved now but I did all the things mentioned in the new procedures with my instructor before they went to bat for me with the FAA. In my case the local flight school I was flying with was instrumental in helping me to obtain a SODA so it might be worth it for you to go fly with a local school for 20+ hours before applying to ATP. You’d still have to start over at ATP but the hours stay with you forever so it’s not like they are a lost cause.


First, let me thank you all for your reply to this topic.

I can definitely differentiate all colors and different tones. I do web design for a living and after over 200 projects completed I have never had a complain with colors in my customer’s branding.

I shall admit that I could not see the dotted numbers on those ishihara test plates when the AME was showing me them and after I showed some I found online to friends, they see them easily.

I must have some deficiency but I’ll take the test flight with the FAA for safety and security. Better safe than sorry!

I’ll let you guys know how that goes, and if it comes back positive, I’ll definitely will start a long journey to achieve my biggest dream!


Good luck with everything. Please let us know how it goes.


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