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The incident was one of the most tense moments of the Cold War and resulted in an escalation of anti-Soviet sentiment , particularly in the United States. The opposing points of view on the incident were never fully resolved; consequently, several groups continue to dispute official reports and offer alternative theories of the event. The subsequent release of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 transcripts and flight recorders by the Russian Federation has clarified some details.

As a result of the incident the United States altered tracking procedures for aircraft departing from Alaska. The interface of the autopilot used on airliners was redesigned to make it more ergonomic . [9] In addition, the event was one of the most important single events that prompted the Reagan administration to allow worldwide access to the United States Global Positioning System (GPS). [10] [11]

The aircrew had an unusually high ratio of crew to passengers, as six deadheading crew were on board. [17] Twelve passengers occupied the upper deck first class, while in business almost all of 24 seats were taken; in economy class, approximately 80 seats did not contain passengers. There were 22 children under the age of 12 years aboard. One hundred and thirty passengers planned to connect to other destinations such as Tokyo , Hong Kong , and Taipei . [18]