Airline says crew witnessed missile re-entering atmosphere during routine flight.
Cathay Pacific claims that one of their air crews watched the North Korean Hwasong-15 missile re-enter the earth’s atmosphere after its launch and reported it to Japanese air traffic control authorities. CNN
reports that Cathay Pacific Flight 893 flew within range of the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test and watched it come down in the Sea of Japan.
In the early morning hours of November 29, 2017, North Korea launched a Hwasong-15 test, with an
estimated range of around 2,800 miles. During the flight, the missile flew just over 590 miles towards
Japan. At the same time, CX893 was flying over the island nation, passing Japan between 3:00 and 6:00
During the flight, the crew reportedly saw the missile come to the end of its 53-minute flight, before
coming down in the waters inside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone. It is unclear if flyers also witnessed
the event. According to a statement from the airline, pilots alerted Japanese authorities about their
“Though the flight was far from the event location, the crew advised Japan ATC according to procedures.
Operation remained normal and was not affected,” the statement to CNN read. “We remain alert and
review the situation as it evolves.”
While some Cathay Pacific aircraft are equipped with cameras underneath the fuselage, the airline said
they have no video of the incident. Furthermore, the carrier is not currently considering adjusting their
routes as a result of the test, even though a missile was credited with bringing down a commercial
aircraft in 2014.
This is not the first time a North Korean missile has experience a close call with an airliner. On July 28, an Air France flight passed over the splashdown site of another missile test splashdown site an estimated 5 to 10 minutes before the ICBM made contact with the water.