North Korea missile test without advance notice raises flight safety concerns

North Korea missile test without advance notice raises flight safety concerns”

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

When the North launched an intercontinental ballistic missile late last month, pilots from two Korean Air passenger planes said they spotted the engine blasts and reported the sighting to the Japanese aviation authorities. It hadn't previously announced the change. They crashed into the sea near Japan.

US 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. Pyongyang said the projectile flew as high as 4,475 kilometers (2,800 miles) before plummeting down into waters off the western coast of Japan.

North Korea fired what is believed to be the biggest and most powerful missile in its arsenal that day.

The Cathay plane didn't travel over that part of the sea either, according to flight tracking data.

Singapore Airlines officials made the decision after an Air France plane glided just east of an area where a North Korean missile had flown just minutes earlier in July. "We remain alert and [will] review the situation as it evolves". The French airline expanded its no-fly zone over North Korea as a result.

The International Civil Aviation Organization in October had condemned the missile tests as it threatened the safety of commercial flights but it had little effect on the North Korean regime.

Pyongyang, already subject to United Nations sanctions for its nuclear and missile programme, regularly fails to issue any warnings.

Travelers who are concerned should know the chances of an airplane colliding with a missile are extremely low: One safety analyst estimates that it is less than a billion to one.

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