Uplink ALPA - The Voice of Aviation

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter. As of April 2020 Uplink ALPA is a 6-monthly publication.

New Heart Attack Predictor Used By the CAA


NZALPA Counsel, Richard McCabe.

The Civil Aviation Authority has recently adopted a method of assessing, among other things, cardiovascular disease risk based on an algorithm developed by the University of Auckland, called PREDICT and will be used by accredited medical examiners for aviation license medical assessment.

In essence, PREDICT is based on medical information gathered from some 200,000 New Zealanders and will be used to assess the likelihood of heart disease based on information from those subjects.

Adoption of PREDICT by the CAA occurred without consultation with the aviation community. NZALPA is concerned that the short-cut provided by PREDICT may disadvantage members. This concern arises because, whereas data has been drawn from 200,000 New Zealanders generally, pilots and air traffic controllers will likely not fit within the general category in so far as they fall into a specific demographic of higher income, higher education and regular rigorous annual / six monthly medical assessment.

PREDICT is not applied in any other jurisdiction other than New Zealand, although it is understood that a distant cousin is used in the United States of America.

Some members may recall that in the early 2000s the CAA adopted what was to be known as the “1 percent rule”. In essence, the 1 percent rule was a short-cut process adopted by the CAA where any person above the age of 65 with any heart issue whatsoever fell into a category that was deemed to present a 1 percent risk of heart attack. Any person who fell into that 1 percent was automatically denied a class 1 or 2 medical. That process was successfully challenged by several organisations (including NZALPA) in the High Court and CAA’s Principal Medical Officer, who had implemented the 1 percent rule, left the CAA soon after the judgment was handed down.

NZALPA has been advised that PREDICT will not be applied as the sole determinant to deny a medical, but will instead be used as a marker for further testing. However, short-cuts have a way of becoming the most used route and NZALPA has a concern that PREDICT may creep from being a diagnostic pathway to a primary reason for denial of a medical.

If any member finds that he or she has a medical suspended based solely on use of the PREDICT model, contact NZALPA immediately.

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