A New Zealand pilots account of their experience with the OCVA. Hopefully the future of the UK/EASA colour vision regulation.
So in my case, I had already gone through the previous process of the CV testing requirements with the NZCAA with no success in obtaining a class 1 medical many years prior to the introduction of the new OCVA rules. Back in the 1990's and early 2000's I had been tested on the 'Farnsworth D15/Holmes-Wright lantern and the Farnsworth lantern + Anomaloscope' which presented a medium/medium-strong tendency of Deuteranopia or red-green colour blindness. After gaining my CPL license with a medical that was not valid for night flying, not valid for Air transport operations in aircraft over 5700kg and with EFIS it was at this point that my future in flying was overseas so as you know I went to Australia to do the Signal Light Gun test (which has now been superseded by the exact same OCVA as we do here in New Zealand) In March 2020 I was to fly back to NZ from Geneva to do the OCVA testing but Covid put a hold on this and it was not until Dec 2020 that I started the process. After coming back to NZ end of Sep 2020 and coming out of MIQ mid-Oct I had to re-sit the NZ ATPL law exam plus do a BFR in order to reactivate my NZ ATPL licence, at the same time I had to do an initial issue NZ class one medical again as I had not renewed my class 1 medical in NZ since 2007, it was at this point that I arranged with the AVMED doctor to do the OCVA testing to hopefully clear the restrictions off my NZ class 1 medical. I had shown her my results of the previous colour vision tests as described above, once she had facilitated an Ishihara test on me (which i failed) she authorized me to then go ahead and do the OCVA test for which I arranged with the A-Cat/ CAA designated flight-testing officer, this being John Gemmell. The OCVA flight testing was in two parts, a day flight and a night flight with each flight being 1 hour approx. Before this the testing officer, Johh, would check the ability of the candidate to correctly observe the colours on a VNC chart, with particular attention focused on, but not limited to, the colours associated with the elevation contours on the charts, airspace borders for class C/D airspace and red symbols also the recognition of danger/ restricted zones, etc. Next was the day flight, this was flown in a piper tomahawk, below is what I was tested for and this is straight from the assessors/ CAA testing criteria;
Satisfactory/safe performance in day light?
a. On the ground and in the air, read and correctly interpret in timely manner aeronautical maps, chart and plates, including print in various sizes, colours and fonts, symbols, lines and terrain markings. Aeronautical chart reading may be performed in daylight or under any light condition where the chart would normally be read. b. On the ground and in the air, read and correctly interpret in timely manner aircraft instrumentation and displays, particularly those with coloured markings, warning lights and coloured displays. c. In the air, recognise terrain and obstructions in a timely manner including the surface condition of several emergency landing fields.
With regard to the above I was asked to show the white arc, yellow arc and the red line on the engine/instrument gauges in the aircraft, the alternator light would actually come on (as there was a problem with this) so I had to recognize this when the light came on in both day and night flights. I was also asked to recognize the PAPI lights on approach into Ardmore airport, we flew above and below the glideslope so I then had to recognize when the lights turned all white or all red, as Ardmore only has a two light PAPI system I was only looking for red/white...red/red or white/white with the lights. The use of Auckland International Airport was not possible due to the volume of traffic and the performance differential from our Piper tomahawk to regular jet traffic, so in every instance of facilitating an OCVA flight test in Auckland, Ardmore airport is used.
The flight started with a departure out towards Pukekohe and a simulated forced landing was performed with attention focused on recognizing different shades of green, some brown and selection of the suitable field to land in, next we flew back to Ardmore and I had to land on the grass runway and show the testing officer where the grass runway started and ended (notwithstanding the runway edge markers) finally we flew 3 circuits and on each approach flew a "on-slope, below slope and above slope approach and I had to identify the PAPI
Next up was the night flight, after the day flight we landed and waited for about an hour until it was properly dark, however, it is allowable for the day and night flight to be combined as one flight but there is a period of waiting until day has transitioned into night so this adds extra expense to the flight test, below is the criteria I was tested on at night;
Satisfactory/safe performance at night?
a. On the ground and in the air, read and correctly interpret in timely manner aeronautical charts, including print in various sizes, colours and fonts, symbols, lines and terrain markings. Aeronautical chart reading may be performed under any light condition where the chart would normally be read. b. On the ground and in the air, read and correctly interpret in timely manner aircraft instrumentation and displays, particularly those with coloured markings, warning lights and coloured displays. c. Visually identify in a timely manner on the ground and in the air the location and significance of lights on an airfield or other aircraft. This may include: (1) Identifying the location and direction of travel of other aircraft in the vicinity. (2) Runway approach aids relevant to the type of aircraft. (3) Runway edge. (4) Runway ends. (5) In runway lights (centreline, touchdown zone, taxiway lead off lights). (6) Taxiways. (7) Holding points. (8) Obstacles. (9) Airport beacons. The night flight started with identifying the aerodrome beacon colour, taxiway edge light colours and the lighted windsock, also the runway edge and runway end identifier lights, threshold lights and holding position lights and the colours on the marker boards. Once airborne we flew to overhead Drury at 2000' AMSL and I was asked to spot and locate green lights, these were green lights at the main road intersection, we then flew back and I was asked to spot the sky tower lights/ colour and Auckland airport beacon/ colour, we then flew 3 circuits to once again determine the PAPI lights on approach, during a circuit I was asked to spot an aircraft approaching rwy 23 at AKL airport that was flying overhead Clevedon at 3000' and point out their Nav lights. Upon landing, we taxied in and was debriefed and told of my results. John Gemmell submitted the paperwork and added some log book stickers to my logbook showing passes in both the night and day OCVA flight tests. I showed the OCVA flight test report paperwork to my AVMED doctor who then gave me a clean class one medical. Just a point to note that I still have a 081 restriction on my medical (this states that flight is not allowed in the vicinity of a controlled aerodrome unless you are in two way contact with aerodrome control or a tower) so a VHF/HF radio, cell phone etc.....it's not really a restriction that is worth worrying about but as I have already demonstrated an ability to correctly interpret a signal light gun from an aerodrome tower John thinks we can get this removed so I would have to look into this. Just a final point to note is that I did three practice flights, one in the day and two at night to practice and go over what I would expect in the OCVA flight tests, a lot was riding on this so due diligence had to be done. John Gemmell was most helpful and emailed me the relevant CAA material regarding the OCVA testing, all this information is on the NZCAA website.
A massive thank you to Chris who provided this amazing account of the OCVA.