The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has completed a project to expand North Korea's satellite-based air traffic control (ATC) network to incorporate a newly installed radar site at Odaejin on the north-east coast.

The upgrade should lead to a dramatic expansion in the amount of traffic able to fly in North Korean airspace between South Korea and Russia.

The radar site provides multi-mode secondary surveillance radar (MSSR) coverage for aircraft transiting the Pyongyang flight information region (FIR) to and from Russian airspace, says IATA assistant director, operations and infrastructure Asia Pacific Gary Dennison.

He says the MSSR will mean North Korea can control traffic which had previously been transiting procedural airspace, requiring a minimum lateral separation of 80nm (150km). With the new radar, minimum separation is reduced to 5nm and reduced vertical separation minima (RVSM) can also be implemented.

Before the installation of the MSSR, Russia's ATC authorities limited traffic entering and leaving North Korean airspace because of the need to transition aircraft to and from metrically calibrated Russian airspace. North Korea uses non-metric ICAO standards.

In 1998 IATA installed and commissioned a satellite communications network to provide VHF coverage over the entire Pyongyang FIR, which enabled North Korean airspace to be opened to international traffic for the first time. The project also connected area control centres in North and South Korea via fibre- optic cable and satellite links.

Source: Flight International