Crew Saw DPRK Missile Test on Cathay Pacific Flight from HK

By Bridget O'Donnell, December 4, 2017

1 0

Crew members on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to the United States witnessed last week's North Korean missile test from a distance, the South China Morning Post reports.

The airline confirmed that crew aboard flight CX893 from Hong Kong to San Francisco saw the early morning intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test from afar on November 29 as the passenger plane flew over Japan. 

The crew members notified Japanese air traffic control officials of their suspected sighting of the missile's re-entry. The ICBM was launched at 2.18am China Standard Time (CST).

A Cathay Pacific spokesperson told SCMP that the flight operations remained normal and were unaffected. The airline will not change routes or other operating procedures, but said that it would be on alert and review the situation.

Hwasong-15 test
An image from last week's DPRK missile test

In an internal message to Cathay Pacific employees, general manager Mark Hoey informed staff of the incident, writing: 

Today [date unspecified] the crew of CX893 reported, "Be advised, we witnessed the DPRK missile blow up and fall apart near our current location." We advised ATC [air traffic control] and ops [operations] normal. Looking at the actual plots, CX096 [a Cathay Pacific cargo flight] might have been the closest, at a few hundred miles laterally.

The Alaska-bound cargo flight (CX096) was also over Japan when the missile made its re-entry.

Pilots of two Korean Air flights also reportedly witnessed flashes of light believed to be from the missile launch, according to an unnamed airline official. The planes were on their way to Incheon International Airport near the South Korean capital of Seoul, en route from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

According to the anonymous Korean Air source:

The captain of the first plane reported seeing a flash to Japanese ground control about an hour after North Korea fired what it said was a new intercontinental ballistic missile.

Japan’s defence minister said the missile landed in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) about that time.

The airline official said the captain of the second plane made a similar report four minutes later as his plane passed along the same route.

He said both planes safely landed at Incheon and the missile didn’t endanger their safety because the trajectory was far enough from the planes’ flight paths.

Jeremy Tam Man-ho, a lawmaker and former pilot, told the SCMP that airlines have the option of re-routing affected flights between Hong Kong, North America, Japan and South Korea in such situations. As CNN notes, the DPRK's missile tests could pose a serious threat to commercial flights.

The new ICBM, named the Hwasong-15, crash landed in the Sea of Japan early last Wednesday morning after flying 950 kilometers and reaching an altitude of nearly 4,500 kilometers (higher than any of its predecessors). The missile, said to be the most powerful one tested to date, can carry a “super large heavy warhead" and may put the entire continental US in range.

[Images via Flickr, CNN]

more news

Hong Kong Ranked 18th Best Travel Destination

Shanghai and Beijing fail to make the cut for the second year in a row.

Huge Fire Breaks Out on US-Bound Flight from Hong Kong

The fire broke out just as cargo was being loaded onto a Boeing 777 passenger jet bound for Los Angeles.

US Student Otto Warmbier Dies Just Days After North Korea Release

In a written statement released by his parents, it has been confirmed that US student Otto Warmbier has died, less than a week after the release from his detention in North Korea.

US College Student Released from North Korea in a Coma

Otto Warmbier is finally coming home, but lapsed into a coma shortly after his 15-year prison sentence in North Korea.

High-Speed Train to Cut Guangzhou-Hong Kong Journey to 48 Minutes

Travel from Guangzhou to Hong Kong at takeoff speed.

Shanghai Named #2 Best Asian Travel Destination

Lonely Planet picks Shanghai as 2nd best travel destination in 2016.

Bike Sharing is Now a Thing in North Korea

The nation's first 50 bike stations will be positioned close to bus and subway stations.

Xi Schools Trump on North Korea in Just 10 Minutes

'After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it's not so easy.'

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at thatsonline for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in China With

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday


Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Magazines!

Visit the archives

Get the App. Your essential China city companion.