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Can you be a CFI or commercial pilot if you have a color vision problem?

Asked by: 2805 views
Commercial Pilot, FAA Regulations, Flight Instructor, General Aviation, Private Pilot, Student Pilot

Good afternoon.  I am a 46 y/o 100 hour TT private pilot (ASEL).  I currently have a restriction on my third-class medical Cannot fly at night or by color signal control.  As I understand it, this is standard practice unless you get a Statement of Demonstrated Ability (SODA).

I would like to spend the money to earn my multi, instrument and commercial rating/licenses and then earn my instructor certificate.  I do intend to use my commercial rating to earn income (thereby requiring a second-class medical).

I'm wondering if any one has gone through this process with color vison problems and a SODA, or is it even possible to do what I'm asking even with a SODA.  Does the second class medical allow it?

Finally, I understand that I can be a compensated INSTRUCTOR with a third-class medical as long as I'm not acting as PIC... but that doesn't help with new students.

Thanks to anyone that can assist.  I'm simply ready for a career change and desire commercial, but not ATP.

Ron Phillips

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3 Answers

  1. mmosier1 on Apr 13, 2012

    I recently went through the SODA process. It was very simple. Just identified red, white, green lights at 1000 and 1500 feet at local FSDO. Had to get 5 of 5 correct at each distance. They had a light gun at FSDO and we walked across the street to distances. Be sure to try the lights at the airport before you get the test to be sure you can recognize them. Test I did was all during daytime.

    Good luck!

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  2. Matthew Waugh on Apr 13, 2012

    You’re a little confused – if you have a valid third class medical you can instruct, be compensated for it, and as long as you meet all the other requirements you can be PIC.
    The FAA’s point of view, which is generally consistent, is that instruction is a separate certificate and, if you hold the appropriate certificate, you can be compensated for providing instruction, regardless of the state of your medical. The ability to act as PIC etc. is related to your pilots certificate, medical and other currency measures but not your instructors certificate. 

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  3. Kris Kortokrax on Apr 13, 2012

    The SODA is not the only way to have the limitation removed from your medical certificate.  I would reccommend that you look on the AOPA website.  There is a list of different color vision tests that you can take.  If you pass one of them, then you can document that on the FAA Eye Evaluation form and take that with you to your AME for the physical.
    I would only use the SODA option as a last resort.  For a second class medical, you need to do the Signal Light test and a flight test.  The procedure is outlined in Order 8900.1 (fsims.faa.gov).  Search for the word “medical”.   If you take the test and fail it, there are no options for a retest.

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