What would happen in this scenario?

Say a US plane is flying in Asia and begins having engine problems. The pilots brush it off and try to correct the issue with their training. However, the problem worsens and they know an emergency landing is necessary otherwise the flight could be doomed. However, there's a problem. The only airport closest for emergency landing is Pyongyang International Airport. What would the pilots do in this scenario? Would they actually land in Pyongyang or keep going until they get to somewhere different? Just a weird curiosity I had. Thanks!


First... A pilot DOES NOT just "brush off" engine problems. Second... It's highly unlikely that an American aircraft would be flying on any sort of route where the only safe landing place would be an airport in North Korea.


Well, that will never happen except in the imagination of a retarded child so I will not bother to answer this utterly rubbish question!


Your scenario is NOT happening. NK is a no fly-over country.


If it were the only option, the pilots would request permission to land at Pyongyang. In all probability, the plane would be allowed to land to avoid a major international incident, rather than allowing it to crash or shooting it down. Given the close proximity of South Korea and China, and the fact that US planes cannot enter DPRK airspace, it is unlikely this scenario would ever occur.


If North Korea was their only safe option I am sure they would land there and let the Country of origin of the flight to sort out getting them safely out of there. Likely North Korea would call them spies and likely it may take time to get the people freed to leave but that is better than sure death if the plane crashed.


No one flies anywhere close to all of North Korea, so your scenario will not happen.


Along every route they have planned emergency landing sites. If one is restricted for some reason they can not land there. As an example, if you look at the center of Nevada you will see a town called Tonopah, There is an old asphalt runway to the east of town. That was an old WW TWO training base. It is not in good shape and is not very long. Go south, south east of there, looking just east of Cactus Peak and you will see the Tonopah Test Range. It has a really long concrete runway big enough for a fully loaded C5 Galaxy. A civilian airliner got in trouble in that area and had to land at the crumby old WW TWO airfield near Tonopah because they could not land at the nice, new concrete secret Tonopah Test Site. The same thing would apply in your example. They would have to land where they are allowed, even if that is not the safest place to do it from an airplane point of view. (In the case of the Tonopah landing, they had to bus the passengers out, fix the plane and then take off totally empty due to the shortness of the old airstrip. You can thank that all to the USAF protecting their secrets at the Tonopah Test Range.)


Hello this is North Korea air traffic control.You are violating North Korea airspace.Please turn away immediately.


No US plane would be that close to the NK capital so your scenario is impossible


they declare an emergency and land at the nearest airport (pyongyang) No doubt NK would send up fighters to escort it down and make sure they follow the route as instructed by air traffic control


This is never going to happen. Your problem has many technical failures.

Md Selim

Firstly, pilots would never ever "brush off" an engine problem. However, assuming they're as stupid as you imagine they are of course they'd land in Pyongyang.


They'd declare an emergency and land in Pyongyang if that truly was the only suitable airport they could reach. As a one time anti-submarine aircraft carrier pilot for the US Navy I often flew off the coast of the Soviet Union. And the only suitable emergency field was at Vladivostok a major submarine base (and airport) for the Soviet Union. Fortunately none of us ever had that emergency. But imagine it if I had had to land my anti-submarine aircraft on the Soviet Union airfield where they kept their most advanced submarines in their pens. My crew and I would have been jailed and interrogated for years. And my aircraft and its anti-sub detection devices would have been pulled apart and analyzed down to the gnat's eyetooth. Same thing for your imaginary aircrew and aircraft landing on Pyongyang.


They land at Pyongyang. Skin tin ticket... in that order, always. Your first priority is to save lives. Your second priority is to save the aircraft. Your last priority is to save your license. Really, it’s not as big of a deal as you might think. The United States has shot down more civilian airliners than North Korea has. ;)

Mark IX

Firstly, pilots would never ever "brush off" an engine problem. However, assuming they're as stupid as you imagine they are of course they'd land in Pyongyang.


International Law allows for an aircraft with a declared emergency (<Mayday> or <Pan Pan> ) to be afforded all possible assistance, and in this case, the authorities at Pyongyang would probably permit the aircraft to land, though the aircraft can expect to be escorted in by a couple of MiGs. If the aircraft is military it would certainly be impounded, stripped and very thoroughly inspected - as in the case of the EP-3E damaged in a collision with a Chinese interceptor and had to put down on Hainan in April 2001.