North Korea Missile Seen By Cathay Pacific Airline Crew
Dec 06 2017
Korean Air, a South Korean airline, also said two captains of its passenger planes saw flashes believed to be from the North's missile test while flying over Japan last Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. The missile flew ten times higher than the global space station and then back down to Earth.
Photo A rally in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, celebrating the missile test.
Cathay Pacific Airways and Korean Air Lines, whose flight crews said they spotted North Korea's missile shooting through the sky last week, do not plan on altering their route plans.
Earlier in October, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had condemned North Korea for the repeated launching of ballistic missiles.
Cathay Pacific said the ICBM test didn't come close to the aircraft and it now has no plans to alter operations.
North Korea's Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile reached an altitude of about 4,475 km (2,780 miles) during its 53-minute flight.
Cathay did not give the location of the flight at the time of the sighting, but said the crew of the CX893 flight between Hong Kong and San Francisco had notified Japanese air traffic control "according to procedures". The North Korean ICBM launched Wednesday was shot at an extremely steep arc, nearly straight up and then straight down.
Given the arbitrary nature of the tests, it is possible that a North Korean missile could hit an airplane traveling through airspace near the launch site.
North Korea has developed ballistic missiles powerful enough to reach their intended targets, including those as far away as the continental USA, and nuclear warheads for those weapons, but the North has struggled with re-entry vehicle technology, which ensures that the warhead survives the flight. Were the weapon to be fired on a minimum energy trajectory or standard launch trajectory, there is a possibility the re-entry vehicle would survive.
"Singapore Airlines is aware of the reports on the sighting of the North Korean missiles and is closely monitoring the situation", a spokesperson said.
"Coupled with the rogue regime's need to master missile guidance and targeting, the re-entry failure underscores the challenges facing the country's weapons program, according to the official".