The FAA's Operational Color Vision Test (OCVT)

The OCVT is the final option for pilots who cannot pass any alternate tests or seek to "be done" with color vision tests for the rest of their flying career. The high stakes "all or nothing" aspect of the OCVT should make it your final option, taken only after you have exhausted attempting other alternate tests.

The test involves meeting an FAA Inspector at either your local FSDO or airport of their choosing. The examiner will go over the nature of the test, possible outcomes, and answer any questions you may have.

Part One: Identifying colors on a sectional chart (anything on the chart is fair game). The examiner will generally point to different colors and ask you what they are. This should take five minutes or less.

Part Two: The examiner will accompany you out to the tarmac for the Signal Light Test (SLT). Either the examiner or control tower staff will shine a bright red, green, and white light at you from 1,000 feet and 1,500 feet away. They will shine the light 10 different times, in a pre-determined order that only the examiner knows. You will be required to correctly state the color shown with a brief break in between each shot. At the conclusion of the SLT, you will be told if you passed this portion. All 10 responses must be correct.

If you are only seeking a Third Class medical, the OCVT ends here, and you will be given a LOE (Letter of Evidence) that you can carry with you for the remainder of your flying days. This LOE exempts you from any further color vision test at your visit with your current or future AME.

If you seek a First or Second Class medical, the OCVT continues and includes a Medical Flight Test (MFT). The MFT is a flight with an FAA examiner (usually the one who did your sectional and SLT portion) and requires you to demonstrate you have satisfactory color vision in flight. You will be asked to identify colors of airport signage, runway lighting, VASI/PAPI indicators, colors of fields and their plowed/unplowed condition, and cockpit instrumentation colors.

Upon successful completion of the MFT, you will be issued the LOE, again good for life for all First/Second class medicals.