North Korea

Risk Level: Two - Danger exists

[ about risk levels ]
Following talks with the US in early 2018, North Korea agreed with ICAO that it would provide adequate warning of all “activity hazardous to aviation" within its airspace. However, in May 2019 North Korea resumed launching missiles into the Sea of Japan, without providing any warning by Notam.

The US prohibits flights across all North Korean airspace, including the oceanic part of the ZKKP/Pyongyang FIR over the Sea of Japan. Several other countries have airspace warnings in place which advise caution due to the risk posed by unannounced rocket launches.

The primary risk is from debris from missile re-entries striking aircraft overflying the oceanic part of the ZKKP/Pyongyang FIR over the Sea of Japan. Consider rerouting to remain over the Japanese landmass or east of it.

Major events:
2021: North Korea tested some short-range ballistic missiles, and a new long-range cruise missile with a range capable of hitting Japan.
2017: North Korea launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles. Both of these landed in the Sea of Japan, well inside the Fukuoka Flight Information Region (Japanese airspace), and significantly, at least one did not re-enter the atmosphere intact – meaning that a debris field of missile fragments passed through the airspace, not just one complete missile.
2015: North Korea gradually stopped notifying ICAO of missile launches, so that aircraft could avoid the launch and splashdown areas.

Current warnings list :

Source Reference Issued Valid to
France AIC 07/21 09 Apr 2021 Ongoing
Canada AIC 26/21 09 Feb 2021 Ongoing
USA SFAR 79 07 Sep 2020 18 Sep 2023
Germany AIC 14/21 19 Dec 2019 Ongoing
UK UK AIP ENR 1.1 (1.4.5) 23 Aug 2017 Ongoing
OPSGROUP Note To Members: Japan Missile Risk 09 Aug 2017 Ongoing
Source: France
Reference: AIC 07/21
Issued: 09-Apr-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Caution advised for all North Korea overflights, especially in the maritime part over the Sea of Japan (due to unannounced rocket launches).
From 09/04/2020 and until further notice, pilots in command of aircraft performing air services mentioned in paragraph 1.1 are requested to exercise particular caution during flight operations in the airspace of North Korea (ZKKP FIR (PYONGYANG)), especially its maritime part.
Source: Canada
Reference: AIC 26/21
Issued: 09-Feb-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Exercise caution in the airspace of North Korea due to risk posed by unannounced rocket launches.
Level 1 (Information)
As of February 9, 2021, and until further notice, Canadian Air Operators and owners of aircraft registered in Canada are advised to exercise extreme caution in the airspace of North Korea (FIR Pyongyang (ZKKP)), due to the potential risk to aviation from ballistic missile launches without prior notice.
Source: USA
Reference: SFAR 79
Issued: 07-Sep-20, valid until: 18 Sep 2023
Plain English: Flights are prohibited in all North Korean airspace, including the oceanic part of the ZKKP/Pyongyang FIR over the Sea of Japan, due to the threat posed by unannounced North Korean missile launches and air defense weapons systems.
On November 3, 2017, the FAA issued KICZ Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) A0023/17, prohibiting U.S. civil aviation operations in the entire Pyongyang FIR (ZKKP) due to the hazardous situation created by North Korean military capabilities and activities, including unannounced North Korean missile launches and air defense weapons systems. This amendment to SFAR No. 79 incorporates the November 3, 2017 NOTAM's expanded flight prohibition into the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The FAA finds this action necessary due to continued hazards to U.S. civil aviation operations in the entire Pyongyang FIR (ZKKP).
Source: Germany
Reference: AIC 14/21
Issued: 19-Dec-19, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: There is a potential risk to overflights of North Korean airspace (ZKKP FIR) due to launching of test missiles without prior notice.
Level 1 (lowest risk). Hazardous situation in North-Korea. Civil German air operators are advised to take potential risk into account in their risk assessment and routing decisions within FIR PYONGYANG (ZKKP). Potential risk to aviation from ground to ground ballistic weaponry test firings without prior notice.
Source: UK
Issued: 23-Aug-17, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: There is a risk to aircraft overflying ZKKP/Pyongyang FIR, and the Sea of Japan (due to unannounced rocket launches).
Hazardous Situation in North Korea

Potential risk to aviation overflying the territory of North Korea, the Pyongyang Flight Information Region and the Sea of Japan (defined for this purpose as the area lying between 1280000E and 1400000E degrees of longitude) due to continuing but unannounced testing of a range of surface-to-surface missiles.

Operators are advised to take this information into account in their own risk assessments and routing decisions.
Source: OPSGROUP
Issued: 09-Aug-17, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Since 2015, North Korea has been test-launching missiles with increasing regularity. The absolute lack of warning, coupled with an emerging picture of a focus area for re-entry, creates a risk to flight operations in the western portion of Japan’s Fukuoka FIR over the Sea of Japan. Consider rerouting to remain over the Japanese landmass or east of it. Check routings carefully for arrivals/departures to Europe from Japan, especially if planning airways which connect with the UHHH/Khabarovsk FIR at waypoints IGROD and AVGOK.
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