Functionally Monocular Pilots.

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Rattlegun
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Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Rattlegun » Sat Apr 9 2011, 11:01

I have my heart set on becoming a professional rotary wing aviator. It has been a dream of mine for a number of years, and this year I intend on starting my CPL(H). As you well know, a Class 1 medical is required.

Here's the problemo: Some twenty years ago, I suffered impact damage to my left eye which has left me with slightly reduced vision of that eye. Unfortunatley, this reduced vision cannot be repaired or corrected via lenses etc. I knew this would be a problem, so I did some resarch and found this on the CASA website.

So I knew I'd be applying for a Functionally Monocular waiver, and that the waiver would (likely) carry with it certain conditions. I would not be able to fly agricultural operations (I don't agree, but whatever, I can live with that) and the waiver would only be valid in Australia - I assume that's because it would not meet ICAO standards and I'd have to re-apply in each country I wish to fly in. Again, I'm happy to live with that. It also says, in no uncertain terms, "Special Conditions"

Off I went to my Designated Aviation Ophthalmologist who, after relieving me of a hefty sum of money, was happy to inform me that I had reduced visual acuity of my left eye and that according to CASA, I was functionally monocular. And then he forgot to send all that off to CASA for review.

Ten short months later (with a few reminders) I finally get a responce from CASA: You're functionally monocular and you'll require a waiver.

The conditions of the waiver are:
  • No Ag flying
  • Only valid in Australia
  • NOT VALID FOR ROTARY WING OPERATIONS

WTF?
Rattlegun
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Rattlegun » Sat Apr 9 2011, 11:33

(Part 2 - my page was doing funny things. Probably because this post is too long. Sorry about that.)

Continued...

There are few things I'd really like to know.
  1. Is there a CAR, CAO or other document (besides the DAME Handbook) which stipulates waiver conditions. Is the rotary wing ops conditions substantiated by law?
  2. In the DAME handbook, the conditions are listed as likely. Is there a process of appeal if I can demonstrate that my condition will have no effect on flight safety what so ever?
  3. Are ALL waivers set with the same conditions, and NOT based on merit or demonstrated ability?
  4. Do you know anyone who is flying rotary wing with a Class 1 medical who is functionally monocular?

Any and all help is much appreciated.

Now before you get all high and mighty and politely remind me that folks with one eye can't fly choppers; that rotary winged flight requires a high degree of depth perception which can only be gained via binocular disparity, please understand that Functionally Monocular and monocular are not the same. I can see as well as you can. I can bat, bowl and catch. I can throw darts and shoot pool or rifles. What I have trouble with is reading poofy letters from a Snellen chart in a darkend room with my not so good eye. For all intensive purposes I have the same depth perception and peripheral vision as anybody/pilot. Depth perception via binocular disparity isn't really effective beyond about fifteen feet as our eyes aren't far enough apart. After that we rely on monocular and inferred visual clues for depth/3D perception.

I know it was long. Thanks for reading.

Rattlegun.
555ron
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby 555ron » Sat Apr 9 2011, 11:54

I thought there was someone getting around the forum with one eye and a class 1 medical...

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1840&p=16826

The Kiwi - I'm not sure if he flies rotary though. He hasn't been here for 12 months but maybe you could ask admin to email him and try and get in touch? There is currently no email notification with the PM system so that's more then likely a waste of time.
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Robinsondog » Sat Apr 9 2011, 12:07

after relieving me of a hefty sum of money,


That, of course is merely the end of the beginning,
and something which occurs freely in this trade.

I should say that you would have no problems at all,
most people on here are very one eyed,


Of the three conditions this one I cannot understand the wording of at all.
NOT VALID FOR ROTARY WING OPERATIONS


What references are they using? I often onjoy delving into conumdrums,
I'd be happy to peer at it for a while if you could provide some.

The word 'Operations' seems to imply, a specific type of airwork, why can you not be cleared for usual commercial FLYING?

I cannot think of one reason why you should be limited in such manner.

Don't give up yet. I too failed an eyesight test (commercial) way back.
Depth perception was one of my problems, or so they said, it's just a matter of using other cues.
RD
Rattlegun
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Rattlegun » Sat Apr 9 2011, 12:28

I too thought the phrasing peculiar.

What I must stress that that phrase is from an email sent to me from Av Med personel who is not a "CASA Doctor". What I'm kind of hoping for is that this person is not fully across waiver conditions and has made a minor error/assumption. I know this seems wildly optimistic, but hey, it can happen. This is why I'd really like to substantiate this information.

Thanks,

Rattlegun.
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Big Beres » Sat Apr 9 2011, 21:16

From one who has been on the receiving end of an AVMed F**k up Oc:= many many years ago you need to ask yourself this question

"How badly do you want o fly helicopter"

if your answer to that question is what I think it is you need to follow is route...

1) get a 2nd opinion

2) get a lawyer - maybe ring the AFAP for advice

I wasted a lot of time by not getting legal advice first up, but you also need to prepare yourself for the same conclusion as the first quack - good luck 8)
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Pegs » Sat Apr 9 2011, 21:53

[*] Do you know anyone who is flying rotary wing with a Class 1 medical who is functionally monocular?[/list]

Rattlegun.
[/quote]

Hi Mate, lovely headache you got yourself there! I know a RW CPLH pilot who has no vision in one eye and has been flying (legally) on a class 1 medical doing Ag work for many years. He has a degenerative condition in one eye although when he originally started out flying (some 20 yrs ago) he did have full use of both, and has lost the sight in one over time plus spent an obscene amount of money on opps and stuff to try and delay the onset. As to how he has gotten dispensation to fly I am unsure but will likely be talking to him in the next week or so and can ask if it would be of any use to you....?

The one thing I would say, is have you thought of getting a second opinion? Going to another DAME, maybe sitting a competence exam for your sight and co-ordination of some sort that could lead to a dispensation? Just a thought.
Good luck.
cheers
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Rattlegun
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Rattlegun » Sat Apr 9 2011, 23:06

Wow! You guys are totally awesome. Hope you all get lots of good Karma.

have you thought of getting a second opinion?


Yes, I have thought of a second opinion. The problem with having your local DAO over 1000Km's away, is that you tend to schedule your opointment for when you can kill the most birds with limited stones. Consequently, on the day I had my examination, my eyes were not the sharpest due to a few days of (night) driving and a few very late evenings etc. I realise this isn't the greatest idea for someone who knows that they're gonig to be up against it from the begining, but thats life in the bush. I've since seen my local Optometrist who's come up with a few ideas for improving recognition with the bad eye. Arrrr matey!


I'm not really contesting the functionally monocular condition. What I'm trying to is find a way to fly RW with the condition. Legally and safely.

Thanks again guys & girls!

Rattlegun
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby DragonFlyer » Sun Apr 10 2011, 02:03

The training School i went through had previously trained up an international student with only one functioning eye.
So id say its possibly,
Learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make all of them yourself. :) :) :)
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Kieran » Sun Apr 10 2011, 02:05

CIVIL AVIATION SAFETY REGULATIONS 1998 - REG 67.195
Medical certificate -- conditions

(1) CASA may issue a medical certificate to a person subject to any condition that is necessary in the interests of the safety of air navigation, having regard to the medical condition of the person.

(2) In particular, CASA may issue a medical certificate subject to a condition that the period during which the certificate remains in force may be extended only by CASA.

(3) A person must not contravene a condition subject to which his or her medical certificate is issued.

The regs say casa may impose ANY condition in the interest of safety, however as yet I can't find a list of conditions available to impose. Maybe worth contacting casa and asking if thay have a set of documents regarding the imposition of conditions?
Rattlegun
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Rattlegun » Sun Apr 10 2011, 02:51

The training School i went through had previously trained up an international student with only one functioning eye.


I've heard, through the internet rumor mill, that organisations like the FAA will accept a Statement of Demonstrated Ability (SODA) for Class 1 medicals. Given that the Australian Civil Aviation Act is based on the American and ICAO versions, I'd have thought we'd have something similar ?

The regs say casa may impose ANY condition in the interest of safety, however as yet I can't find a list of conditions available to impose.


It makes sense that CASA should be able to impose restrictions and conditions if they have sufficient evidence and they've given proper consideration. However, the email I recieved from CASA AvMed gave me the impression that the conditions listed were applied to ALL applications, as a blanket (read: napalm) rule, regardless of demonstrated ability. Infact the email says "Unfortunately there is no special consideration that we can give regarding the rotary wing restriction if the monocular restrictions are granted". To me, this does not make any sense.

I'm still rather new to this, but I think CASR 67 is the reg which deals with medicals, but I can't find exactly where waivers and their conditions are dealt with. I get to here and get lost. Any aviation lawyers out there?

Once again, a massive thanks to the Bladeslapper community. You guys Rock!

Rattlegun
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Fling Wing » Sun Apr 10 2011, 03:53

Mate,
I too have a problem with my eyes. I have CSR which in short means a leakage of fluid behind my retina. Usually found in one eye, I am “lucky” enough to get it periodically in both eyes, however it is the left eye that is the worst. Now I’m the same as you in that I can still shoot both target and skeet accurately, bowl a cricket ball, catch, play snooker, drive a car and I was still seeing other aircraft whilst flying before my colleagues and so on but, I can’t see all the little letters on the chart.
The problem was discovered during a renewal as I could not see the letters on the eye chart well enough with my left eye. So it was off to an Ophthalmologist for testing. Leak found and grounded. My employer was great and kept me on as a groundie until we knew more. After 6 months and lots of eye tests and LASER surgery to stop the leak, followed by more eye tests ending with a flight test I was handed my class 1 med with the condition I get tested every 3 months. So off I go into the blue. 3 months later I go for my eye test and discover that another leak has occurred. Grounded again. After another 6 months and a very understanding employer, I decide to leave and give other pilots a chance at their dream job. Now because I couldn’t fly a helicopter safely (according to CASA) I decided to do the only thing I could do. I went and flew H-500’s off Tuna boats in the Pacific, and landing on a rolling pitching deck with +20knotts up your tail pipe while the ship is moving at 12 knots is difficult but lots of fun. I hated the long flights away from the boat (engine detonation at 1000 feet over water sucks) but, I loved the close in stuff. Now before you do gooders say anything, I wouldn’t have gone and flown in this environment unless I knew I could fly as safe if not safer than anyone else (even if the situation wasn’t as safe as it could be). I did this to prove I could still fly and also as a last hoorah as flying helicopters was and still is a dream of mine. I didn’t get my licence until I was 39 and I was stopped from flying at 42.
I have returned to Australia to find a “real” job as flying in the Pacific is no way for a family to live. I intend to get my eyes periodically tested in the hope that in time my eyes will be good enough to allow me to obtain my class 2 medical enabling me to fly privately.
Mate, if you have the time, patience, money and drive to pursue this go for it aggressively and don’t let up. My own personal situation stopped me from going on with the fight but, if you get the bit between your teeth....hook in.
Best of luck :D
Ed
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Pegs » Sun Apr 10 2011, 04:50

Ed,
thankyou for sharing your story.
I hope you get to fly again in the future, have you considered flying under the RAA at all? You won't even need a class two for that....
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Rattlegun » Sun Apr 10 2011, 05:46

What a bummer Ed, I'm sorry to hear about that. I too hope you're able to get back in the air as soon as possible. As devistated as I was this week upon reading the email, I still feel lucky to have my family and otherwise great health. Some things just aren't worth the scarifice - even for helicopters.

As for CASA - I'll fight to the very end, mate (I'm one of those annoying people who send the difficult letters that make public servents uncomfortabe). At this stage I'd prefer to spend my heard earned with my flight school rather than with the lawers.

Cheers, Rattlegun.
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Rattlegun » Mon Apr 11 2011, 09:18

I know a RW CPLH pilot who has no vision in one eye and has been flying (legally) on a class 1 medical doing Ag work for many years.


Pegs, if you get a chance to catch up with your mate, any info would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

Rattlegun.
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby bellslapper » Mon Apr 11 2011, 10:05

This is a good read this thread, hoping I could get some info for myself, as it turns out at the moment I am grounded because of an eye condition, last Oct I got an infection in my right eye that left me blinded pretty much and in alot of pain for 2 days, a week later i noticed I was straining to see, and as my left eye was around 6/18 i relied on my right eye to get me through my medicals as the year before my left eye had slipped a bit with CASA putting a few conditions on my Licence which were:
•No Ag flying
•Only valid in Australia
•NOT VALID FOR ROTARY WING OPERATIONS
After a bit of testing for a month i was back in the air with CASA RENEW which I thought I could live with that, next medical came and went, past the medical still with left eye 6/18 and right eye 6/4.5 which it always been and CASA lifted the CASA renew, then 2 months later I ended up with an infection in my right eye which leaves my left eye still at 6/18 and my right eye 6/9 at best with dilate pupil and 6/12 undilated, some Dr's say it is a ciliary spasm which they are trying to control , by dilating the pupil so the muscle does not work at all, also not the best on a sunny day.

Anyone hear of this before??
Rattlegun
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Rattlegun » Mon Apr 11 2011, 11:03

I feel your pain Bellslapper! Eye conditions can really tear the fork out of your nightie - to that I can well attest! I'm glad you're enjoying the thread though. If you don't mind, I'd like to pick your brains a little further on your er...relationship with the good people over at CASA, especially AvMed.

When they imposed the restrictions on your CPL, was it due to just the one dodgy eye, or were both eye's giving you grief?
When they lifted the restriction, dd you have good acuity of both eyes, or was one still a bit d icky ? (That word gets auto-edited to Knob - FYI)
Were they (AvMed) able to make an independant assessment of your particular case, or was the "No RW Ops" condition mandatory for anyone who goes within 20 feet of an ophthalmology clinic?

Please don't feel compelled to answer anything you're uncomfortabe with, as I know this stuff is often fairly personel. And this is the internet, after all.

Once again, thanks to all for their help.

Rattlegun

P.S. I'll be trying to keep this thread highish on the front page for about a week, so please have patience Bladeslappers - and don't tell the Mods.
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby harold » Mon Apr 11 2011, 23:18

Rattlegun,

You might like to cite (no pun intended) the chap who flew helos with ONLY 1 EYE! Yes, the other was glass. Name was George Kawolski......only had a PPL(H) and that might have been a restriction but worth a go!
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby vortexstate » Tue Apr 12 2011, 02:56

I remember George!
I did some dual check training with him about fifteen years ago and he was quite the gentleman. He flew like a trooper with a fantastic situational awareness
and was upfront in relation to his situation and how it didn't affect his performance.
Rattlegun
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Re: Functionally Monocular Pilots.

Postby Rattlegun » Tue Apr 12 2011, 03:10

Thanks guys!

I'll be using any and every shred of evidence available to me.

Keeping CASA honest,

Rattlegun

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