An aviation researcher, writer, aviation participant, pilot & agricultural researcher. Author of over 35 scientific publications world wide.


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I attache the following from John O’Brien and also pass along my thoughts and best wishes to Arthur, who I first met over 20-years ago.
As you say John, his enthusiasm is infectious.

CVDPA Update

Latest CVDPA update sent to members and supporters this week…

Colour Vision Update – March 2016


Dear Friends and Supporters,
Undoubtedly many of you are probably wondering what’s been happening since our last update in July 2015. Firstly, we apologise for the lack of communication since this time, however we wish to assure you that there has still been activity occurring behind the scenes. We trust that this newsletter serves as an update to inform you of recent events. More importantly, we hope that it encourages you to get involved as we need your help to reinvigorate our campaign and bring an end to the unjust discrimination that CVD pilots continue to endure.

Dr Arthur Pape

As some of you are aware, Arthur’s health has been rapidly declining over past few months due to an aggressive lung disease. Unfortunately, the condition has been so severe that he has had to stop work as a GP and DAME and he is now on 24 hour oxygen and requires an urgent lung transplant. The good news is that after extensive testing, he has made it onto the official transplant list and he is now awaiting a compatible donor organ before a transplant can occur. Please keep Arthur and his family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Arthur has devoted well over 30 years of his life for pursuing rights for CVD pilots and without his efforts, many would not be in aviation careers today. His infectious enthusiasm for the cause and his endless pursuit for ensuring regulations are evidence based continues to be the driving force behind CVDPA’s efforts as we progress into the future.

In fact, despite his declining health, Arthur delivered his most recent presentation in September 2015 to the Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine held in Adelaide. In this presentation, he once again delivered an irrefutable argument to show how CASA’s use of the CAD test as a test that “simulates an operational situation” (as required by the regulations) is both illegal and discriminatory. A video copy of this presentation is available below:

CVDA Presentation


You may recall in the last update we flagged the possibility of a Federal Court challenge against CASA’s continued refusal to implement a lawful, operationally based test to satisfy the requirements of CASR 67.150 [6][c]. Since that time, CASA has continued to require applicants who fail the first two level tests (Ishihara and Farnsworth) to sit the CAD test for the purposes of compliance with sub-regulation [6][c]. Anyone who has undertaken this test will know that it does not remotely simulate any operational situation encountered in an aircraft and is therefore not compliant with the regulations.

The fact that it does not simulate an operational situation was conceded under oath by the inventor of the test, Professor John Barbur, during the O’Brien vs CASA Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) hearings in 2014. Moreover, the tribunal in this matter determined that the CAD test “did not reveal any significant new or relevant information” about Mr O’Brien’s CVD condition and they subsequently placed greater weight on his operational experience as a pilot in determining that it was appropriate for his ATPL restriction to be lifted.

Despite these findings, CASA still continue to require new CVD pilot applicants to sit the CAD test and those who fail it are being restricted to Day VFR only, or in some cases are having the issue of a Class 1 medical refused entirely. This practice goes completely against a 25+ year safety case and ignores the findings of three independent tribunals.

Over the past few months, we have attempted to constructively engage with CASA in our ongoing efforts to come to a rational, lawful and evidence based outcome. This engagement includes the correspondence below (click hyperlink):


Holding Redlich (law firm) to CASA

CASA response to Holding Redlich

CVDPA to CASA CEO Mark Skidmore

CASA CEO Mark Skidmore to CVDPAIt is important to emphasise that the comments and proposals that CVDPA outlined in letter #3 to CASA were collectively endorsed by Australia’s four major pilot associations – Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP), Virgin Independent Pilots Association (VIPA), Australian & International Pilots Association (AIPA) and the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA). Together, these organisations represent thousands of professional and recreational pilots across Australia, including many with a CVD.

Today we received a disappointing, but somewhat predictable response from CASA CEO Mark Skidmore (letter #4). It is quite clear from Mr Skidmore’s reply that CASA has no intention of considering any rational, lawful or evidence based alternative for the purposes of compliance with the regulations. Unfortunately, Mr Skidmore also refused to acknowledge our request for a further meeting to consult with us on these issues prior to making the decision he outlined in his letter.

It seems plainly obvious that CASA do not care about objective evidence or objective risk and subsequently the only viable way forward from here is a further legal challenge in the Federal Court against their unlawful use of the CAD test.

Further Demonstrable CASA InconsistenciesTo further highlight the inconsistencies in CASA’s approach, another of our members lodged an application with the Administrative Appeals Tirbunal to seek to have his own ATPL restrictions removed. This pilot’s application to the AAT was in response to the tribunal’s findings in the O’Brien v CASA matter. He is an experienced B737 First Officer working for a major airline with many years of incident free flying experience under his belt, supported by excellent results throughout his training and checking history.

Despite several years of CASA’s refusal to remove his ATPL restriction, it is clear that when legal pressure was applied and the pilot commenced proceedings at the AAT, CASA backed down as they were unwilling to risk a fourth embarrassing loss at the AAT. This particular matter progressed as far as a mediation conference, at which point CASA agreed to allow the pilot the ability to use his ATPL privileges, meaning that he may also now progress to the role of Captain in the future.

What this result appears to suggest is that CASA lack both evidence and conviction to support their own decisions, particularly with regards to denying experienced pilots the opportunity to exercise ATPL privileges. It also reinforces the fact that they are selectively targeting new aspiring CVD pilots by issuing them with medical restrictions which essentially deny them the same opportunities to enter into the industry.

CASA’s inconsistent handling of new pilot applicants versus existing experienced pilots further demonstrates that this is not a safety issue as they claim, but is a political issue motivated by prejudice.

New Zealand Colour Vision Review

The interests of CVD pilots were proudly represented in November when a group of independent experts travelled to Wellington to present to a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) panel reviewing the NZ colour vision testing procedures and policies. The panel’s task was to review all the information and to deliver a report to the CAA Director with recommendations on a proposed way forward.

The presentations to the panel provided an invaluable opportunity for experts to speak directly to the panel members and to allow them to ask questions. The primary objective was to encourage the implementation of an operational test conducted either in an aircraft or flight simulator so that CVD pilots have an opportunity to demonstrate they can perform their duties safely and can pursue careers in aviation.

Speakers included:

  • Tim Woods – Colour Vision Aviators (NZ) Administrator
  • Capt Phillip Maguire – Meeting Facilitator
  • Capt John O’Brien – CVDPA Director
  • Dr Robert Liddell – former CASA Director of Aviation Medicine
  • Associate Professor Geoff Stuart – Monash University Accident Research Centre
  • Dr Boris Crasini – Ret’d Professor of Psychology – Deakin University
  • Ryan Brookes – Director (Applied Vehicle Systems) – NZ Defence Technology Agency

A special thanks must go to Tim Woods and Phillip Maguire for their efforts in bringing all these experts together in what was a culmination of many years of work to get to this point. The presenters complimented each other by discussing the evidence through their own individual area of expertise and we are confident a positive impact was made on the day.

We still await an outcome from this process (expected within the next 1 – 2 months) and will provide an update as soon as further information comes to hand.

Additionally, Ryan Brookes also recently published a comprehensive paper which is well worth a read. It analyses the evidence and raises further questions about the suitability of current clinical test regimes. The report is available via the below hyperlink:

Colour Vision Requirements for Aircrew – DTA Report 405

The Future – Your Help Needed

Now more than ever, we need the support of members to get involved and to help reinvigorate our campaign. For the last few years, the day to day management of CVDPA has been looked after by Arthur Pape and John O’Brien, all on a voluntary basis. Particularly with Arthur’s ill health in recent times, we need your assistance in a variety of areas to help share the workload and to help us develop strategies on progressing our campaign successfully into the future.

So, what areas do we need assistance with?

  • Strategy and planning
  • Management experience
  • Marketing our message
  • Advertising
  • Political lobbying
  • Fundraising / crowdfunding
  • Legal advice
  • Finance and book keeping
  • Assistance with website reinvigoration and updates
  • Membership newsletters and communication
  • Responding to general emails and website enquiries
  • Social media including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

As you can see, there’s lots to do. Understandably we all live busy lives, but if any member has a particular area of expertise that you believe could be of assistance in helping us manage any of the above areas, we would love to hear from you. Many hands makes light work and ideally we would like to form a working committee so that responsibilities can be delegated. Please email membership@cvdpa.com if you are able to contribute.

Additionally, please be reminded that CVDPA members are able to access a Members Only Forum through our website. This forum provides a convenient means for us to discuss ideas and suggestions openly with likeminded individuals. To log-in, you will require your user name and password and you are then able to contribute to discussions (anonymously if desired). If you have any difficulties logging on, please email webmaster@cvdpa.com.

With several million colour defective persons across the world, including Australia, our potential audience is huge. CVDPA has approximately 200 members, so we clearly have a lot of work to do. If we had 1000 members prepared to contribute $1000 each, we would have one million dollars – enough to fund some serious legal challenges! The evidence is very much on our side, but without funding we are unable to take the challenge right up to CASA or other authorities. Without the funding to mount a challenge in the Federal Court, this project is virtually doomed. CASA will respond to our demands only when we are prepared to back up with a serious legal challenge.

Donations can continue to be made via our website:

Your Support – Donations

Please consider what you can do to help us bring an end to this discrimination once and for all. We’re all in this together and we need your support!

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