Color Vision Testing by Farnsworth Lantern and Ability to Identify Approach-Path Signal Colors
Authors: Cole, Barry L.; Maddocks, Jennifer D.
Source: Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, Volume 79, Number 6, June , 2008 , pp. 585-590(6)
Publisher: Aerospace Medical Association
Abstract:Cole BL, Maddocks JD. Color vision testing by Farnsworth lantern and ability to identify approach-path signal colors. Aviat Space Environ Med 2008; 79:585-90. Introduction: It is presumed that pilots with abnormal color vision who pass the Farnsworth lantern test can distinguish aviation signal lights including the red and white lights of the Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI). The investigation of the FedEx Flight 1478 crash at Tallahassee airport in 2002 raises doubts about this presumption. It found a contributory factor was that the pilot had difficulty distinguishing the PAPI signals because of his deficient color vision (DCV) even though he had passed the Farnsworth lantern. This paper reports on the ability of subjects with DCV who pass the Farnsworth lantern to distinguish PAPI signal colors. Methods: Under a good visibility and a marginal visibility condition, 52 DCV subjects and 52 with normal color vision (NCV) named the colors of simulated PAPI signal lights observed in the dark. Subjects were tested with the Farnsworth lantern and a comprehensive battery of other color vision tests. Results: The 10 DCV subjects who passed the Farnsworth lantern made significantly more errors naming PAPI signals than the NCV subjects and 80% made more errors than the worst performing NCV subject. Some confused the red and white signals on more than 10% of occasions. Conclusions: Passing the Farnsworth lantern test does not ensure that DCV pilots can distinguish PAPI signal colors. The criterion for passing the lantern test should be made more stringent. In addition the design of PAPI signals can be improved by a better choice of the white color and by providing a redundant non-color cue.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2008-06-01
- The peer-reviewed monthly journal, Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine (ASEM) provides contact with physicians, life scientists, bioengineers, and medical specialists working in both basic medical research and in its clinical applications. It is the most used and cited journal in its field. ASEM is distributed to more than 80 nations.
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