A US official said Tuesday that an unusual ground stop was issued to some pilots after the North American Aerospace Defense Command warned of a North Korean missile launch.
The official says it was not a national ground stop and may have been issued by a regional air traffic control facility.
According to NORAD Chief Spokesperson Captain Pamela Kunz, “No warnings were issued by NORAD Headquarters about a potential threat to the United States.”
The Federal Aviation Administration, responsible for the nation’s air traffic control system, said it was to err on the side of ground stop safety.
“As a precaution, the FAA temporarily halted departures at certain West Coast airports on Monday evening,” the FAA said in a statement. “Full operations resumed in less than 15 minutes. The FAA routinely takes precautionary measures. We are reviewing the process around this ground stop as we do after all such events. ,
A NORAD spokesman said the launch followed the usual sequence: the missile launch was detected, and it was assessed to be not a threat to the continental United States. Standard practice is for the FAA to maintain constant contact with the NORAD ops center, so the quick assessment would have been aware of.
A LiveATC air traffic control recording of Burbank Airport in California details a controller telling a Southwest flight “all departures right now, ground stops at all airports. The message we have received is there till further notice.”
“We received a ground stop order at around 2:30 pm,” Burbank Airport spokeswoman Nerissa Sugars said. “And it lasted less than 15 minutes.”
According to Sugars, because the stop was so brief that it did not affect operations, except for a few minor flight delays. Sugars said the FAA did not give a reason for the ground stop order at the time, which is a common practice.
Another recording of the control tower frequency in Hillsboro, Oregon, tells the controller to disembark the pilot of the Cessna, “We just received a notice that we need to make a national ground stop.”
A spokesperson for San Diego International Airport told CNN that the airport was “instructed by Air Traffic Control that there was a national ground stop, but shortly after (5-7 minutes) our operations team was told that It has been removed.”
Other West Coast airports contacted by CNN said they were unaware of the order.
It is unclear why the ground stop was put in place because a statement from US Forces Korea said the test did not pose any threat to US or South Korean territory or military personnel, but that “the missile launch (of North Korea) has illegal effect.” Exposes the weapons program.”
After North Korea conducted a ballistic missile test at around 07:27 a.m. Tuesday local time, the missile was launched from inland and traveled east and fell into the sea.
US Strategic Command and NORAD use satellites and radar to track every missile launch around the world and are able to quickly assess whether the launch poses a threat to the United States.
Officials have told CNN in the past that North Korea is not publicly known to have deployed a reliable long-range missile with a reliable capability to reach the West Coast, although North Korea continues to develop its program. including progress on their long-range ballistics. Missiles.
Staff writer Hunter Lee contributed to this report.