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As the aircraft moves south, the lines of longitude expand and the track deviation gets greater.That is the initial 10 degree error that was sent to the INS gets wider.The reasons put forward for the aircraft's deviation range from a lack of situational awareness by the pilots (ICAO), to a planned and intentional deviation (Pearson), to an Inertial Navigation system (INS) programming error by 10 degrees of longitude during the inputting of the ramp starting position by the crew (Hersh pp.
The pilots, thus, could in theory have known that they were at least 8 nautical miles (15 km) off course.
Fifty minutes after takeoff, military radar at King Salmon, Alaska acquired KAL 007 at more than 12.6 nautical miles (23.3 km) off course.
One of the first theories was that Space Shuttle Challenger and a satellite were monitoring the airliner's progress over Soviet territory.
Defence Attaché, which printed this claim, was sued by Korean Air Lines and forced to pay damages and print an apology.
All accounts note that the pilots had several sources of information that could have alerted them to their increasing deviation from their planned route.