International Ops 2017

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Category: Safe Airspace

Cathay crew witness missile re-entry from North Korea

Crew onboard a Cathay Pacific flight witnessed the re-entry of North Korea’s latest missile near their position late last week. The CX893 service from San Francisco to Hong Kong on Nov 29 was over Japan at the time when North Korea launched its missile.

The crew reported: “Be advised, we witnessed the DPRK missile blow up and fall apart near our current location.”

Here’s Cathay Pacific’s full statement:

“On 29 November, the flight crew of CX893 reported a sighting of what is suspected to be the re-entry of the recent DPRK test missile. Though the flight was far from the event location, the crew advised Japan ATC according to procedures. Operation remained normal and was not affected. We have been in contact with relevant authorities and industry bodies as well as with other carriers. At the moment, no one is changing any routes or operating parameters. We remain alert and review the situation as it evolves."

North Korea’s missiles are larger, and can fly further, than the other missiles we’ve previously seen. Over the past year, most of these missiles land in the Sea of Japan, well inside the Fukuoka Flight Information Region (Japanese airspace). But as we see with this latest test, there is clearly a danger of some of these missiles not re-entering the atmosphere intact – meaning that a debris field of missile fragments passes through the airspace, not just one complete missile. If you haven’t done so already, make sure you read this: our article on why North Korean missiles are now a real threat to Civil Aviation.

This latest test is also significant because of its unprecedented altitude – 4500km (2800 miles). Experts seem to agree that if it had been fired on a standard trajectory, the missile would have been capable of traveling around 13000km (8100 miles), meaning it could have struck anywhere in the mainland US.

If you’re operating in the region, we recommend avoiding the ZKKP/Pyongyang FIR entirely and avoiding the affected areas over the Sea of Japan. For more info, check out Safeairspace.

Bali – Airport Status

Volcanic eruptions from Bali’s Mount Agung earlier last week forced the closure of WADD/Denpasar and WADL/Lombok airports, as volcanic ash spread across both islands.

Here’s the current situation at the airports on Dec 4:

  • WADD/Bali: Re-opened on Nov 29. (Although the airport will be closed for runway repair from 18-23z daily [except Saturdays] until Dec 31).
  • WADL/Lombok: Re-opened on Nov 30. 
  • WARR/Juanda: Open and operating. So far has not been affected at all by the volcanic ash. (Although the airport will be closed for runway repair from 16-22z daily until Jan 06).

Although Mount Agung has now stopped emitting ash, another large eruption is still likely. The local monitoring agency are registering powerful and continuous tremors, and authorities have ordered locals and journalists within 10km of the volcano to evacuate. Further intermittent airport closures are possible, depending on wind direction.

We will keep this page updated with the latest news as we get it.

New Unsafe Airspace Summary and Map

November 29, 2017: One of our biggest missions in OPSGROUP is to share risk information and keep operators aware of the current threat picture. The lastest Unsafe Airspace Summary is now published, and available to members here as a PDF download (Unsafe Airspace Summary 29NOV17, edition JULIETT).

The main changes since the last summary are below. For a current risk map, refer to the Airspace Risk map in your member Dashboard.

North Korea. On November 3rd, the FAA published Notam 23/17, which now prohibits US operators from entering any of the Pyongyang FIR. replacing SFAR79 and previous advice to ‘exercise caution’. The situation remains tense, and as highlighted by FSB in September, the western portion of the Japan FIR is a risk area due to multiple missile re-entries into the same portion of Japanese airspace.

The conflict in Mali is onging. Germany added a new specific warning for GAKL/Kidal on 15 Nov, in addition to GATB/Timbuktu and GAGO/Gao.

Saudi Arabia is now at Level 2 – assessed risk. Due to military activity related to the involvement in Yemen, it is suggested to avoid the southwestern region of the Jeddah FIR. On Nov 4 a missile launched from Yemen reached Riyadh Airport. Saudi sources say missile was intercepted, this is not yet confirmed. Threats have been made by Yemen of further strikes.

The situation in Afghanistan remains similar. On November 15, Germany removed wording to maintain FL330 or higher, no altitude advice now exists, but they recommend against landings at Afghan airports.

Think twice before entering this airspace. Overflight Risk areas in August 2017.

One of our primary missions at FSB is to monitor the world’s airspace and report on new risks to civil aviation. When enough changes occur, we update our “Unsafe Airspace Summary“.

Today, we published a new summary effective 16AUG2017 – version “INDIA”.

First up, the map as things stand:

Red is Level 1 – Avoid this Airspace
Orange is Level 2 – Assessed Risk
Yellow is Level 3 – Caution.

A live version of this map is always updated at safeairspace.net

 

What’s changed since the last summary?

  • Somalia is downgraded to Level 2, so there are now five Level 1 – Avoid countries: Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and North Korea.
  • Saudi Arabia is upgraded to Level 2, due to assessed risk in the southwestern portion of the FIR (Yemen border area)
  • French Guyana no longer a threat as strikes and airspace closures have ended
  • Addition of JapanVenezuela and South Korea at Level 3 – Caution advised

If you have ops to any of these countries, make sure to have a read of the risk information. A full library is at safeairspace.net.

 

Download the latest summary

 

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