Singapore Airlines reroutes flights over North Korean missile threat

No route changes after 3 flight crews report flash of light during N. Korea ICBM test

Jung Yeon Je AFP

North Korea has tested dozens of ballistic missiles, two of which flew over Japan, and conducted its sixth and largest nuclear bomb test in September.

Singapore Airlines has changed the travel routes of some of their flights travelling over the troubled Korean peninsula. The isolated regime had been testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that, for the first time, appeared capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States.

Changes to the route between Seoul and Los Angeles have been in place since July. Cathay Pacific's crew reported seeing the weapon re-enter the Earth's atmosphere, while Korean Air said its pilots "saw a flash".

A South Korean transportation ministry official, who wanted to remain unnamed, said the flight paths of both Korean airlines were some 220 kilometers away from where the missile landed.

The reports from South Korea and Japan come after Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific said Monday that the crew of its flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong saw "what is suspected to be the re-entry" of the North Korean missile. "At the moment, no one is changing any routes or operating parameters", Cathay said.

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Shortly after the test, a spokesperson for the U.S. Defense Department acknowledged that the North Korean missile "flew through busy airspace used by commercial airliners".

In newly released report, Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee claimed that F-35 Joint Strike Fighters could shoot down North Korea's ballistic missiles in their boost phase.

It is very unlikely that a plane would be hit by a random missile, though.

Under the guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization-a United Nations agency that oversees air safety-nations launching threats to air safety must "issue risk advisories regarding any threats to the safety of civilian aircraft operating in their airspace".

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