Airliner Got Unexpected View of Latest N. Korean Missile

Cathay Pacific crew actually saw it splash down in the ocean
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2017 7:12 AM CST
Passenger Jet Uncomfortably Close to Last N. Korea Missile
File photo of a Cathay Pacific Airways jet in Hong Kong.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

North Korea's most recent missile test had some unintended witnesses: the crew of an airliner on its way from San Francisco to Hong Kong. It seems the Cathay Pacific passenger jet was over Japan on Nov. 29 when its crew saw the North Korean ballistic missile re-enter the atmosphere and crash into the Sea of Japan, reports the Guardian. "Be advised, we witnessed the DPRK missile blow up and fall apart near our current location," said the chief pilot, using the acronym for North Korea, per the South China Morning Post. The crew advised air traffic controllers in Japan, but their jet was far enough away that no course changes were necessary. It turns out that a Cathay Pacific cargo jet was even closer to the missile, though it was unclear whether that crew had seen it as well.

"Operation remained normal and was not affected," says a statement from the Hong Kong airline. "We remain alert and review the situation as it evolves." It was unclear how many passengers were aboard the plane at the time. CNN notes that many Cathay Pacific jets have cameras mounted outside that allow passengers to see the view, but the airline didn't say whether the missile had been recorded. The relative close call raises the question of whether airlines flying in the vicinity need to consider altering routes or otherwise take precautions. One Hong Kong lawmaker, a former pilot, suggests that a panel be created that would coordinate intelligence about possible North Korea tests with the aviation industry. (More North Korea stories.)

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