Last Wednesday North Korean tested a ballistic missile. When they test missiles they generally don’t post NOTAMs for flights to avoid designated air space (and it’s not clear that historically they’ve known where the missiles would go).
This time the missile — said to be able to hit much of the world if replicable (though unclear if the missile could carry a nuclear warhead through re-entry) — was reportedly seen by the crew of Cathay Pacific CX893 from San Francisco to Hong Kong, the midnight Airbus A350 departure.
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350, Copyright: prestonia / 123RF Stock Photo
Cathay said in a statement that it had been in contact with relevant authorities, industry bodies and other airlines about what was seen from Cathay Pacific flight 893, and at the moment there were no plans to change flight routes.
“Though the flight was far from the event location, the crew advised Japan ATC (Air Traffic Control) according to procedures. Operation remained normal and was not affected,” the statement said.
To be clear this flight was not in danger although missile tests without informing planes to clear the area can definitely be dangerous.
While a ballistic missile hasn’t ever hit a jetliner, a North Korean test missile came even closer to Air France AF293 on July 28. The Tokyo Haneda – Paris Charles de Gaulle flight was just 60 to 70 miles north of the location where the missile came down. It had passed to the east 5 to 10 minutes prior to impact.
Commercial jets have been shot down by missiles of course, many Americans are familiar with Korean Airlines flight 7 downed by the Soviets and Malaysia’s MH17 shot down more recently near the Russia-Ukraine border. In 1988 the US shot down Iran Air 655.
(HT: Grant M.)