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2017-12-07 16:31
N. Korean missile tests reats concerning international airlines
By Jun Ji-hye

North Korean missile tests have been a source of concern to international airlines amid the possibility of a ballistic missile encroaching on busy commercial air routes.

Since its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, July 4, the Kim Jong-un regime launched two more ICBMs, July 28 and Nov. 29, into the East Sea.

The North, a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), is required to give prior notice of activities that could threaten the safety of civil aviation. But the repressive state did not do so ahead of the three tests.

In response to the repeated tests, Singapore Airlines has taken practical measures by rerouting the airline’s Seoul-Los Angeles flights, according to the company. The new route goes further north to avoid flying over the East Sea.

The company said the measure was put in place following the July 28 ICBM test, during which the missile flew 998 kilometers for 47 minutes after reaching an altitude of 3,724 kilometers.

A publicity manager of Hong Kong-based carrier Cathay Pacific Airways also said, “We are closely watching the situation, though we have yet to change our routes.”

The comment came after the crew of the airline’s flight CX893 from San Francisco to Hong Kong saw from a distance what they believed was a North Korean missile re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, Nov. 29.

Korean Air pilots, who were flying aircraft over Japan, also reported to Japanese aviation authorities that they saw what they believed were flares from the Nov. 29 test.

In that test, the missile reached an altitude of 4,475 kilometers, while flying 960 kilometers in 53 minutes.

On Aug. 1, ABC News reported that Air France flight 293, traveling from Tokyo to Paris with 323 people on board, was potentially in danger following the North’s missile test as the airliner flew over the location where the North’s ICBM landed less than 10 minutes after it did so.

After the first ICBM test in July, the U.S. Defense Department expressed concerns over the potential danger that the North Korean missiles could pose to passenger planes in the region.

“This missile flew through busy airspace used by commercial airliners,” said Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff David, according to ABC News. “It flew into space. It landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, and an area that’s used by commercial and fishing vessels. All of this was completely uncoordinated.”

Amid growing concern, Alexandre de Juniac, the director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said at its Geneva headquarters, Tuesday, that North Korean airspace could be declared a no-fly zone, according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

“The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) could declare a no-fly zone,” he was quoted as saying. “We are working with the ICAO on how we can protect these zones (for) flying.

“The ICAO is trying to implement and ask North Korea to apply safety rules. If you look at North Korean airspace, there are not too many aircraft overflying it.”


jjh@ktimes.com

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