A French commercial airliner flew past the airspace where North Korea’s most recent ballistic missile would land less than 10 minutes after, according to ABC News.
Air France flight 293 was carrying more than 300 passengers from Tokyo to Paris on Friday night.
The plane’s flight path is close to airspace where North Korean missiles reentered the atmosphere in 2016 and 2017. The Boeing 777 aircraft that came close to encountering Pyongyang’s Hwasong-14 was traveling west of Japan’s northernmost Hokkaido island, when North Korea had already launched the projectile.
Japan’s defense ministry has stated the Hwasong-14 tested last week fell into waters near Okushiri Island in Hokkaido.
Air France told ABC News in a statement North Korea’s missile test zones “don’t interfere in any way with Air France’s flight paths,” and there was no “reported incident” following the flight.
“Moreover, in cooperation with the authorities, Air France constantly analyzes potentially dangerous flyover zones and adapts its flight plans accordingly,” the statement read.
The Pentagon, however, had a different take on the potential risks involved.
“This missile flew through busy airspace used by commercial airliners,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis had said, following Pyongyang’s Fourth of July missile test. “It flew into space. It landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, and an area that’s used by commercial and fishing vessels. All of this completely uncoordinated.”
Analysts say North Korea’s most recent missile test may not have resulted in the successful atmospheric re-entry of a North Korean nuclear warhead.
The footage of Hwasong-14’s re-entry vehicle, which crashed into waters about 120 miles from the Japanese coast, shows the RV dimming and quickly disappearing, a sign that it “disintegrated about the time it experienced maximum stressing loads,” according to analyst Michael Elleman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
By Elizabeth Shim