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North Korea ballistic missile test raises flight safety concerns

07 December 2017

North Korea tested its new Hwasong-15 (KN-22) intercontinental ballistic missile before dawn last Tuesday, but while the launch came as a surprise for many, the US intelligence saw it coming.

"A Korean Air jet flying to Incheon from San Francisco reported to Japanese controllers that its flight crew saw a flash from what was believed to be the North Korean missile", a Korean Air spokesman told AFP.

Singapore Airlines has changed some of its flight routes between Asia and the response to North Korea's missile tests, CNNMoney reported.

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News of Singapore Airlines' change followed a crew on board a Cathay Pacific aircraft seeing a North Korean missile blow up over the Sea of Japan last week.

North Korea's attempts to develop an ICBM to carry a nuclear warhead to strike the American mainland have put commercial airlines operating in the busy East Asian airspace on alert, even though the chances of a plane colliding with a missile are miniscule. The decision comes after Pyongyang's continuous missile tests in the Sea of Japan disregarding worldwide opposition.

The government is mulling revising the plan next year as the view is spreading inside the government that the security situation in the region has become more serious than that laid out in 2013 and "a sense of urgency" should be incorporated in a new planning document.

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The carrier said its planes now don't enter "the vicinity of the missile trajectory", because it changed the route to avoid the northern part of the Sea of Japan, which sits between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

Federal regulation from 1997 prohibits all USA airlines from flying over the Flight Information Region of Pyongyang.

Pyongyang, already subject to United Nations sanctions for its nuclear and missile programme, regularly fails to issue any warnings. Such notices are issued to warn pilots and airlines of potential risks during their flights.

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North Korea ballistic missile test raises flight safety concerns