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Korean Peninsula Update

Updated November 5, 2014

Security Update from UnitedHealthcare Global Risk (Download PDF)

The guidance published by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on 5 November 2014 is in reference to events that occurred between February and September 2014 and does not pertain to any critical development that has occurred in the last week or less. Instead, the guidance updates and expands upon information provided by the FAA earlier in 2014 regarding the activities of the North Korean military -- namely missile tests -- and how they might impact U.S. civilian aircraft lawfully operating within the Pyongyang (ZKKP) Flight Information Region (FIR).

The missile tests referenced in the notice from the FAA have trailed off in the last two months; however, tests in the future are likely to occur. The incidents often coincide with a triggering event that the North chooses to lash out against. For example, short-range rockets were fired into the Sea of Japan during joint U.S. - South Korea military exercises and during a visit to South Korea by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Missiles were also fired to coincide with a visit to South Korea by Pope Francis. Because the North reacts militarily to such a wide range of issues and perceived provocations, it is difficult to predict when exactly the country will choose to test fire missiles. In the most recent incidents, missiles were typically launched from Wonsan. Missiles and artillery shells have also landed near the maritime border between North and South Korea, and have at times compelled the South to respond.

In its document, the FAA references two classes of missiles that North Korea currently operates. The document refers to SCUD missiles, which are short-range tactical missiles. Open source information shows that the North employs two types of SCUD missile, called the Hwasong-5 and the Hwasong-6. The reported maximum range of the Hwasong-5 is 300 km, while the Hwasong-6 has a range of approximately 500 km. The number of Hwasong-5 in operation is not known, but the reports indicate that North Korea has deployed approximately 400 Hwasong-6 missiles.

The second class of missile mentioned in the FAA piece is the No Dong-1 (also referred to as the Rodong). The No Dong is a medium-range ballistic missile with a reported range of approximately 1,000-1,500 km. According to reports, approximately 150 No Dongs are deployed in North Korea.

While both of these missiles technically have sufficient range to exceed the boundary set by the Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR), the North has typically fired shorter range missiles that fell west of the 132 east longitude. A relatively small number of the missiles test-fired landed beyond that boundary, but the fact that this has occurred is alarming.

It is worth noting that North Korea's air defense system is not well-equipped to distinguish between military and civilian aircraft. This fact, combined with its recent history of repeatedly testing short and medium range missiles for varying and unpredictable reasons, makes using airspace within the Pyongyang FIR, but east of the 132 east longitude, particularly hazardous.

North Korea Pyongyang (ZKKP) FIR (Download PDF)

FDC 4/9111 (A0058/14) - ZZZ - SECURITY - UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ADVISORY FOR NORTH KOREA PYONGYANG (ZKKP) FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION (FIR)

THOSE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A BELOW ARE ADVISED TO EXERCISE CAUTION FLYING IN AND AROUND THE PYONGYANG (ZKKP) FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION EAST OF 132 DEGREES EAST LONGITUDE DUE TO NORTH KOREA'S HISTORY OF TEST LAUNCHING SHORT-RANGE AND MEDIUM-RANGE BALLISTIC MISSILES WITH NO WARNING.

A. APPLICABILITY. THIS NOTAM APPLIES TO: ALL U.S. AIR CARRIERS AND COMMERCIAL OPERATORS; ALL PERSONS EXERCISING THE PRIVILEGES OF AN AIRMAN CERTIFICATE ISSUED BY THE FAA, EXCEPT SUCH PERSONS OPERATING U.S.-REGISTERED AIRCRAFT FOR A FOREIGN AIR CARRIER; AND ALL OPERATORS OF AIRCRAFT REGISTERED IN THE UNITED STATES, EXCEPT WHERE THE OPERATOR OF SUCH AIRCRAFT IS A FOREIGN AIR CARRIER.

B. PLANNING. THOSE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A PLANNING FOR AND OPERATING IN AND AROUND THE PYONGYANG FIR (ZKKP) EAST OF 132 DEGREES EAST LONGITUDE MUST REVIEW CURRENT SECURITY/THREAT INFORMATION AND NOTAMS; AND COMPLY WITH ALL APPLICABLE FAA REGULATIONS, OPERATIONS SPECIFICATIONS, MANAGEMENT SPECIFICATIONS, AND LETTERS OF AUTHORIZATION, INCLUDING UPDATING B450.

C. OPERATIONS. EXERCISE CAUTION DURING FLIGHT OPERATIONS SINCE FUTURE BALLISTIC MISSILE LAUNCHES MAY OCCUR WITH LITTLE OR NO WARNING. BETWEEN FEBRUARY AND AUGUST 2014, NORTH KOREA TEST LAUNCHED ELEVEN SHORT-RANGE AND TWO MEDIUM-RANGE BALLISTIC MISSILES. MANY WERE LAUNCHED INTO THE ZKKP FIR WITHOUT WARNING DURING US.-REPUBLIC OF KOREA MILITARY EXERCISES, AND TWO IMPACTED IN THE SEA OF JAPAN BEYOND THE BOUNDARY OF SPECIAL FEDERAL AVIATION REGULATION (SFAR) 79, WHICH PROHIBITS THE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A FROM FLYING IN THE PYONGYANG FIR WEST OF 132 DEGREES EAST LONGITUDE. THOSE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A MUST REPORT ANY OBSERVED ROCKET OR MISSILE LAUNCHES NEAR THE KOREAN PENINSULA TO THE FAA AT +1 202-267-3333 or 1-844-412-1794.

THE JUSTIFICATION FOR THIS ADVISORY WILL BE RE-EVALUATED BY 31 OCT 2015. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AT:
HTTP://WWW.FAA.GOV/AIR_TRAFFIC/PUBLICATIONS/US_RESTRICTIONS/. 1411051600-1510312359 EST


Pyongyang FIR (Download PDF)

NOTICE FOR THE PYONGYANG FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION

Between February and August 2014, North Korea conducted thirteen ballistic missile test launches. The test launches included No Dong medium-range ballistic missiles and SCUD short-range ballistic missiles. Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 79 prohibits U.S. air carriers or commercial operators; persons exercising the privileges of an airman certificate issued by the FAA, except such persons operating U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier; and operators of aircraft registered in the United States, except where the operator of such aircraft is a foreign air carrier, from flying in the Pyongyang FIR west of 132 degrees east longitude. However, both No Dong medium-range ballistic missiles and SCUD short-range ballistic missiles are capable of flying beyond the boundary of SFAR 79. Some of the recent missiles have impacted outside the SFAR boundary. Prior to these test launches, North Korea did not issue NOTAMs or provide other advanced warning that these hazardous activities would take place within the Pyongyang (ZKKP) Flight Information Region (FIR).

Such activities pose a potential hazard to flight operations, including operators flying on air routes B467 and G711. Additional unannounced North Korean rocket or missile launches into the Pyongyang FIR are possible. U.S. operators are advised to use caution when operating in and around the Pyongyang FIR east of 132 degrees east longitude.

Report any observed rocket or missile launches near the Korean peninsula to the FAA at aeo-citewatch@faa.gov or +1 202 267-3333.

Korean Peninsula Incheon (RKRR) FIR (Download PDF)

FDC 4/9112 (A0059/14) - ZZZ - SECURITY - UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ADVISORY FOR KOREAN PENINSULA INCHEON (RKRR) FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION (FIR)

THOSE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A BELOW ARE ADVISED TO EXERCISE CAUTION WHEN FLYING IN THE INCHEON FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION (RKRR), ESPECIALLY NEAR SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, DUE TO POSSIBLE INTERFERENCE WITH OR DISRUPTION OF THEIR GPS NAVIGATION SYSTEMS.

A. APPLICABILITY. THIS NOTAM APPLIES TO: ALL U.S. AIR CARRIERS AND COMMERCIAL OPERATORS; ALL PERSONS EXERCISING THE PRIVILEGES OF AN AIRMAN CERTIFICATE ISSUED BY THE FAA, EXCEPT SUCH PERSONS OPERATING U.S.-REGISTERED AIRCRAFT FOR A FOREIGN AIR CARRIER; AND ALL OPERATORS OF AIRCRAFT REGISTERED IN THE UNITED STATES, EXCEPT WHERE THE OPERATOR OF SUCH AIRCRAFT IS A FOREIGN AIR CARRIER.

B. PLANNING. THOSE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A PLANNING FOR AND OPERATING IN THE INCHEON FIR (RKRR) SHOULD BE PREPARED TO USE NON-GPS NAVIGATION AIDS; AND MUST REVIEW CURRENT NOTAMS AND COMPLY WITH ALL APPLICABLE FAA REGULATIONS, OPERATIONS SPECIFICATIONS, MANAGEMENT SPECIFICATIONS, AND LETTERS OF AUTHORIZATION, INCLUDING UPDATING B450.

C. OPERATIONS. EXERCISE CAUTION DURING FLIGHT OPERATIONS AS THERE HAVE BEEN PRIOR REPORTS OF CIVIL AIRCRAFT EXPERIENCING GPS NAVIGATION SYSTEMS INTERFERENCE AND DISRUPTION. THOSE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A MUST REPORT ANY GPS INTERFERENCE OR DISRUPTION TO THE FAA AT +1 202-267-3333 or 1-844-412-1794.

THE JUSTIFICATION FOR THIS ADVISORY WILL BE RE-EVALUATED BY 31 OCT 2015. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AT: HTTP://WWW.FAA.GOV/AIR_TRAFFIC/PUBLICATIONS/US_RESTRICTIONS/. 1411051600-1510312359 EST

Previous Updates

April 30, 2013
Joint U.S. – South Korea military drills ended on 30 April 2013. The drills, which began on 11 March, led the North Korean regime to unilaterally void the armistice that ended the Korean War. Despite the end of the drills, the U.S. and South Korea militaries have remained on alert for a possible North Korean missile test.

April 29, 2013

  • On 29 April South Korean workers departed from the Kaesong industrial zone, closing one of the few remaining venues for joint North Korea-South Korea cooperation. The South Korean employees left after the country's Unification Ministry ordered their withdrawal; the complex's approximately 53,000 North Korean employees were withdrawn earlier in the month as tensions escalated between the neighboring countries.
  • The United States and South Korean militaries have maintained a high alert status due to the possibility of a North Korean missile test.

April 26, 2012

  • The South Korean Unification Ministry withdrew all remaining citizens from the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a jointly-operated industrial area in North Korea, citing safety concerns and the inability to deliver food and medical supplies. A major symbol of cooperation between the two countries, its future remains at risk due to the withdrawal. Although the decision to remove the workers did not cause any immediate escalation in tensions, it is indicative of the severely strained relations between the two countries.

April 23, 2013

  • There have been no new updates to the ongoing Korean crisis. The United States and South Korea continue to expect a missile test from North Korea, and have maintained their militaries on alert.

April 22, 2013

  • The North Korean army moved two additional missile launchers to the country's east coast in preparation for a pending test. U.S. and South Korea forces still expect a missile test in the coming weeks, and have remained on alert.

April 19, 2013

  • No major developments have been reported since yesterday's update. South Korea and the United States have remained on alert for a North Korean missile test.

April 18, 2013

  • The North Korean government has demanded the ending of United Nations-imposed sanctions and the ending of United States-South Korea joint military drills as conditions for resuming denuclearization talks. Although these conditions are unlikely to be met, it appears that the North Korean regime has, for the moment, shifted away from the more bellicose rhetoric of previous weeks.
  • South Korean and U.S. forces have remained on alert for a possible North Korean missile test.

April 17, 2013

  • North Korea denounced a 15 April anti-North Korea protest held in Seoul, demanding an apology from the South Korean government. However, it does not appear that this incident will affect the current nature of relations between the two countries.
  • Overall, though, the amount of bellicose rhetoric from the North Koreans has quieted in recent days. A missile test is still anticipated, but the celebration of Kim Il-Sung's birthday on Monday passed without incident.

April 15, 2013

  • North Korea celebrated the birthday of founder Kim Il-Sung on 15 April, one of the most important dates on the country's calendar. Leader Kim Jong-Un made his first public appearance in two weeks to pay tribute.
  • Although North Korea launched a missile test around the time of Kim's birthday last year, no such test took place over the weekend. However, North Korean missiles remain in position, and we continue to expect a test in the near future. The South Korean and United States militaries have continued to remain on alert due to the likelihood of such a test.

April 12, 2013

  • Intelligence sources suggest that a missile test is possible soon, probably within the next week, as the North Korean regime celebrates the birthday of founder Kim Il-Sung.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Seoul earlier today as part of an Asia trip to reiterate U.S. support for South Korea and Japan in the face of continued rhetoric from the North. Kerry is scheduled to visit China on 13 April and Japan on 14 April.
  • Some governments have urged their citizens in South Korea to have travel documents ready in case an evacuation becomes necessary, but no government has yet advised against travel to the country.

Prior to April 12, 2013

  • There were no substantive changes to the ongoing situation in Korea. The South Korean and United States militaries have continued to maintain a high alert status, as a North Korean missile test is expected in the coming days.
  • The South Korean defense ministry raised its alert level to "vital threat" due to reports indicating that North Korea has prepared for a new missile test. The alert level calls for increased surveillance and monitoring of North Korean activity.
  • While a missile test is likely, North Korea has carried out similar tests in the past during periods of tension and such a test is unlikely to have any short-term military significance.
  • Despite rhetoric from the North Korean government, the State Department does not see any threat to U.S. citizens or diplomatic facilities in South Korea, and it has not issued any new travel security warnings.
  • North Korea issued a warning on 9 April 2013 to foreigners in South Korea to leave stating that it does not wish to harm foreign visitors in the event of a war on the peninsula.
  • Despite the warning, reports indicate that the situation in Seoul is normal. There have been no changes to flight schedules, and schools catering to the international community remained open.
  • To our knowledge, no major foreign agency in South Korea has evacuated personnel or urged non-essential staff to depart. Foreign embassies have also not issued any statements urging their citizens to depart or to avoid travel to South Korea.


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Global Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers (VAAC)


Start your trip right.

Join forces with over 8,200 flight departments who already trust and depend on Colt International for fuel, trip support, and insurance.

Contact Colt Today!