November 20, 2018

Missile test raises flight safety concerns

07 December 2017, 07:37 | Devin Moran

No route changes after 3 flight crews report flash of light during N. Korea ICBM test

FILE- This Wednesday Nov. 29 2017 file image provided by the North Korean government on Thursday Nov. 30 2017 shows what the North Korean government calls the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea

Airlines operating routes between Korea and the United States are changing flight paths to avoid areas that may be exposed to missile launches from North Korea.

The news comes after crew from two other Asian airlines-Cathay Pacific and Korean Air-reported seeing what they believed was a ballistic missile while they were in the sky on November 29.

Singapore Airlines has changed the travel routes of some of their flights travelling over the troubled Korean peninsula. A decision on whether its planes should avoid the Sea of Japan is also "taken every day".

USA officials told CNN that the re-entry vehicle likely failed during North Korea's most recent missile test, and the crew of a Cathay Pacific flight claims to have seen the missile explode during re-entry, although David Wright, a senior physicist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, suspects that the crew actually saw stage separation and second-stage ignition during the ascent. Korean Air hasn't specified how close its flight was to the missile.

Any missile launches must be reported to the International Civil Aviation Organization to assure the safety of civilian aircraft.

"We do take the matter seriously and are monitoring the situation very closely and will reroute our flight paths where necessary", a Cathay Pacific spokesperson added.

North Korea recently tested a missile that experts say could reach any location in the continental US.

Minutes later, the pilot of another Korean Air plane reported seeing a similar flash of light, airline spokesman Cho Hyun-mook said, as cited by AP.

It joins a growing group of airlines who have re-routed planes because of Pyongyang's more frequent launches.

North Korea's new missile was reportedly a new type of nuclear-capable ICBM called the Hwasong-15.

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