I’m not sure the BBC/press has gotten this right…a shock, I know.
From the article:
David Ibbotson is thought to have been colour-blind, and his licence restricted him to flying in daytime hours only.
The pilot was evidently “Red Green Color Deficient”. 10% of the male population is Red Green Color Deficient, including your’s truly (which is why I became a Naval Intelligence officer rather than a submariner–but that is another story). Obviously the use of red and green lights, critical to aeronautical and nautical navigation and safety–and generally mean the opposite of each other–presents a problem if one is Red Green Color Deficient.
An aviation source told BBC Wales that the ability to be able to differentiate between green and red lights is “key” to flying in the dark.
Well, yeah Mr. MOTO…but was that what caused this accident? It is “key” is the ability to determine another aircraft’s direction of travel relative to you by looking at its Red (Port) and Green (Starboard) running lights.
In the surface/submarine Navy this is called “Target Angle”. I can actually do this for ships…when I have time to stare at them for a 20-30 seconds…through binoculars…from the bridge of another ship that is moving at maybe 15 knots…so plenty of time. I wouldn’t bet my life on it if I was flying at 130 KIAS and had only a couple of seconds to do it.
But this guy didn’t hit another aircraft. Nor was he trying to land using a VASI (which I can see just fine). So…
I think (would hope) that his restriction on night flying meant that he didn’t have many (if any?) night hours behind the controls. So maybe he was unfamiliar with the visual aspects of night conditions? Speculation? Yes, but other than being the reason for his night flying restriction, I’m not sure how Red Green Color Deficiency would be a factor.
What it means to be Red Green Color Deficient:
It means that there are certain shade of red and green that appear to be the same color. I can easily tell Fire Engine Red from Forest Green. It is the “orangey” shade of red and lighter, “yellowy” shades of green where I have problems.
Traffic lights? No problem.
VASI…while the red doesn’t look really red, it is red enough, both in sims and in the real world.
Some running lights? Some problems.
Navigation Buoys at night? Problems.
Day Red / Green pain on Navigation Buoys and channel markers? Looks the same to me…which is OK since they are either “nuns” (triangle shaped - Red) or “cans” (rectangle - Green)…so I just go by the shape.
You can tell if somebody is Red Green Color Deficient by just looking at them. Not perfect, but if a guy (very very few women are Red Green Color Deficient; they carry the gene) wears a lot of blue and white colors–stays away from earth tones–good chance he’s Red Green Color Deficient…unless his wife dressed him…which is why it is not fool proof.
There is also a Blue Yellow Color Deficiency which is rare. Actual Color Blindness–the inability to see any colors; everything is shades of grey–is also very rare.