KAL 007's particular airway, R-20 (Romeo Two Zero), passes just 17.5 miles (28.2 km) from what was then Soviet airspace off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula.The autopilot system used at the time had four basic control modes: HEADING, VOR/LOC, ILS, and INS.

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The ILS (instrument landing system) mode caused the plane to track both vertical and lateral course beacons, which led to a specific runway selected by the pilot.

The INS (inertial navigation system) mode maintained the plane on lateral course lines between selected flight plan waypoints programmed into the INS computer.

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) was a scheduled Korean Air Lines flight from New York City to Seoul via Anchorage, Alaska.

On September 1, 1983, the South Korean airliner serving the flight was shot down by a Soviet Su-15 interceptor.The autopilot computer software commanded the INS mode to remain in the "armed" condition until the plane had moved to a position less than 7.5 miles (12.1 km) from the desired course line.Once that happened, the INS mode would change from "armed" to "capture" and the plane would track the flight-planned course from then on.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.When the INS navigation systems were properly programmed with the filed flight plan waypoints, the pilot could turn the autopilot mode selector switch to the INS position and the plane would then automatically track the programmed INS course line, provided the plane was headed in the proper direction and within 7.5 nautical miles (13.9 km) of that course line.