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About 1638 eastern daylight time, on 10/19/96, a McDonnell Douglas MD-88, N914dl, operated by Delta Airlines, Inc., as Flight 554, struck the approach light structure and the end of the runway deck during the approach to land on runway 13 at the LaGuardia airport, in Flushing, New York. Flight 554 was being operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121, as a scheduled, domestic passenger flight from Atlanta, Georgia, to Flushing. The flight departed the Williams B. Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta Georgia, about 1441, with two flightcrew members, three flight attendants, and 58 passengers on board. Three passengers reported minor injuries; no injuries were reported by the remaining 60 occupants. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the lower fuselage, wings (including slats and flaps), main landing gear, and both engines. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the approach to runway 13; flight 554 was operating on an instrument flight rules flight plan.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Require the Civil Aeromedical Institute to publish and disseminate a brochure containing info about vision correction options, to include info about the potential hazards of monovision (MV) contact lens use by pilots while performing flying duties and to emphasize that MV contact lenses are not approved for use while flying.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Action
FLUSHING, NY, United States
Descent Below Visual Glidepath and Collision with Terrain Delta Air Lines Flight 554 McDonnell Douglas MD-88, N914DL
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Safety Recommendation History
THE SAFETY BOARD HAS REVIEWED THE BROCHURE THAT CAMI HAS PUBLISHED AND NOTES THAT IT CONTAINS INFORMATION AS PRESCRIBED IN A-97-87. THE BOARD ALSO NOTES THAT THE DISTRIBUTION OF THESE BROCHURES IS PRIMARILY THROUGH AME'S. THIS SYSTEM IS ADEQUATE AND THE BOARD BELIEVES THAT THE BROCHURE IS VERY INFORMATIVE IN ALL AREAS OF VISION AND OFFERS A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF INFORMATION THAT EVERY PILOT WOULD FIND USEFUL. BASED ON THE FAA'S ACTION, A-97-87 IS CLASSIFIED "CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ACTION." THE BOARD ENCOURAGES THE WIDEST POSSIBLE DISSEMINATION FOR THIS QUALITY BROCHURE.
Letter Mail Controlled 02/19/1999 9:59:13 AM MC# 981542 THE CIVIL AEROMEDICAL INSTITUTE HAS PUBLISHED A BROCHURE THAT CONTAINS INFORMATION ABOUT THE POTENTIAL HAZARDS OF THE USE OF MONOVISION CONTACT LENSES BY PILOTS WHILE PERFORMING FLYING DUTIES. THE BROCHURE DISCUSSES VISION CORRECTION OPTIONS AND EMPHASIZES THAT MONOVISION CONTACT LENSES ARE NOT APPROVED FOR USE WHILE FLYING. THIS BROCHURE HAS BEEN DISTRIBUTED TO ALL AME'S. I HAVE ENCLOSED A COPY FOR THE BOARD'S INFORMATION.
The FAA has stated that it has generated and updated information for pilots regarding vision and vision correction options. Pending receipt of a copy of the updated literature, the Safety Board classifies Safety Recommendation A-97-87 "Open- -Acceptable Response."
The FAA is concerned about pilots who use monovision contact lenses. Monovision is an optical technique in which a subject is fitted with one contact lens for distance correction and one contact lens for near correction. The use of a contact lens in one eye for distant visual acuity and a lens in the other eye for near visual acuity is not acceptable, because this procedure makes the pilot an effective alternator (a person who uses one eye at a time). Stereopsis is lost. Unfortunately, many pilots may be unaware of this position. In some cases, conventional spectacles or acceptable contact lenses are worn to scheduled medical examinations and then monovision contact lenses are used while flying. Aviation Medical Examiners (AME) should be aware of the FAA's position on this matter. The FAA's "Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners," page 84, explicitly states: "Contact lenses that correct near visual acuity only or that are bifocal are not considered acceptable for aviation duties. Similarly, the use of a contact lens in one eye for distant visual acuity and a lens in the other eye for near visual acuity is not acceptable. This position is reiterated on page 88 of the guide as follows: "The use of a contact lens in one eye for distant visual acuity and another in the other eye for near or intermediate visual acuity is not acceptable." FAA Form 8500-8, Items 50 and 51, require AME's to record a pilot applicant's distant and near vision with and without correction. As indicated on page 82 of the guide, if the applicant wears corrective lenses, the uncorrected acuity should be determined first, then the corrected acuity. AME's should be able to determine whether applicants need to use or are using correction to read a Snellen chart. To remind AME's of the importance of establishing a pilot applicant's use of contact lenses, page 83 of the guide states that failure to note and to require the removal of contact lenses is a common error that may occur in examining pilots for visual acuity. The FAA agrees with the Board that more guidance may be needed to make sure that Data Source: NTSB Recommendations to FAA and FAA Responses AME's establish whether a pilot applicant is using or plans to use monovision contact lenses and that pilots are aware of the possible consequences with these types of lenses. The FAA has published an editorial in the summer issue of the Federal Air Surgeon's Medical Bulletin discussing its concern for pilots who use nonstandard corrective vision approaches. Also, at the Experimental Aircraft Association Fly-In last August in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, representatives from the American Optometry Association and the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) staffed a booth entitled "Aviation Vision." Copies of the editorial, information warning of the hazards of monovision, and other available information on the subject of monovision were distributed during the fly-in. CAMI has updated its brochure entitled "Medical Facts on Pilots/Pilot Vision," and is developing revisions to the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) and the FAA Medical Handbook for Pilots to include warnings about monovision contact lenses. The brochure is in final review and will be distributed to AME's and their colleagues. This brochure will also be discussed and distributed in the guidance material at future AME seminars. The FAA anticipates updating the AIM and the FAA Medical Handbook within 6 months. The FAA will assess whether this further guidance is effective before making any amendments to FAA Form 8500-8. Amending FAA Form 8500-8 would require substantial resources and would entail finding available space on the front of the form. The FAA will determine how the form could be recrafted to accommodate this additional item and whether adding an item on contact lens usage would be the only amendment of the form required. Should there be additional reasons to revise the form, a question eliciting information on contact lens usage will be considered. I will keep the Board informed of the FAA's progress on these safety recommendations.
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