FAA stopped west coast airplane departures shortly after North Korea missile test

Monday’s test is the second missile launch from North Korea in a week

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 11 January 2022 23:26
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Related video: North Korea launches rocket

The FAA reportedly halted all departures at several west coast airports around the same time that North Korea was testing a missile.

The departures were halted on Monday evening, according to the FAA. The grounding only lasted for 15 minutes.

"Full operations resumed in less than 15 minutes. The FAA regularly takes precautionary measures," the FAA said in a statement. "We are reviewing the process around this ground stop as we do after all such events."

The agency said it halted the flights "as a matter of precaution”.

The FAA has not confirmed as of Tuesday that the delays were a direct result of the North Korean missile test. However, the departures were ordered to stop shortly after the test began, and only west coast airports were affected by the delays.

NBC News reported that the US Indo-Pacific Command was "aware of the ballistic missile launch”.

"While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of [North Korea's] illicit weapons program," US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement. "The US commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad."

No warnings from NORAD were issued during the time of the missile launch, suggesting the weapons never posed a threat to US interests. According to a NORAD spokesperson, the missile was detected and assessed as not threatening to the US.

Airport personnel at both San Diego International Airport and Ontario International Airport – which is based in San Bernardino County, – reported short departure delays during the grounding. In San Diego the order only lasted between five and seven minutes. In San Bernardino County, the grounding was over within three minutes.

Air traffic recordings out of Burbank, California noted the stop order from the FAA. One controller told a Southwest airlines pilot that “there’s ground stops all departures, all airports right now. The message we got is it’s until further notice.”

The North Korean missile launch that may have caused the departure delays is the second launch in a week. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently announced he plans to expand the country's nuclear weapons program despite international pressure to halt his weapon development. The missile launched Tuesday landed in North Korea's eastern coastal waters.

South Korea was predictably frustrated by the missile launch, calling it a "clear violation" of the UN Security Council's resolutions.

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