The NTSB has apparently indicated that the co-pilot’s color deficiency was a contributing factor in last year’s FedEx accident in Tallahassie, FL.
As a color blind pilot, the reaction from the FAA could be disturbing. It seems as though the co-pilots difficulty in understanding the PAPIs may have have been a factor in the aircraft flying too low and unexpectedly trimming some of the trees on the approach.
It seems to me (and yes, I am very color blind and have a SODA - Statement of Demonstrated Ability, aka “waiver”) that in the enlightened age of ADA, the “3 Bar VASIs” are a much more efficient system. They do not rely on color perception to work. For reasons unknown to me, they are pretty rare, and many pilots have never seen them. I actually learned to fly at an airport that used 'em.
For those who have never flown using one, the system can be described as three panels that line up in a row if you are on the glide path. If you are high, the middle bar appears to rise above the outer two and conversely, if you are low, the middle bar descends below the outer two.
In a lot of ways it is similar to the GS indication and gives very precise indications of just how far above or below the glide path you are. I have always preferred this system as it is easy to fly a teensy weensy bit high (I prefer to do that VFR unless a short landing is necessary). At night, the three panels are each illuminated by a single horizontal light (similar to a flourescent tube or neon bar), and the three lines of light either line up, or as noted above, reflect the direction and magnitude of your deviation.
Of course, while it seems like it would be logical to deploy a system that overcomes physical abnormalities (‘challenges’ for the PC crowd), the FAA is going to spend a whole mess of money to study the potential hazards presented by color blind pilots.
Are there any other color blind folk out there and what have your experiences been?