The United States Opens GPS Up to Civilians.

The first U.S. pronouncement regarding civil use of GPS came in 1983 following the downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007 after it strayed over territory belonging to the Soviet Union.
At this time, President Reagan announced that the Global Positioning System
would be made available for international civil use once the system became operational.
In 1987 DoD formally requested the Department of Transportation to
establish and provide an office to respond to civil users’ needs and to work
closely with the DoD to ensure proper implementation of GPS for civil use. Two
years later, the U.S. Coast Guard became the lead agency for this project.

The Reagan announcement was followed by a U.S. offer to make available the
Standard Positioning Service of GPS, which was announced at the International
Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Tenth Air Navigation Conference,
September 5, 1991. The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Administrator,
James Busey, promised that GPS would be available free of charge to the international
community beginning in 1993 on a continuous, worldwide basis for at
least 10 years. This offer was extended the following year at the 29th ICAO
Assembly, when the United States offered SPS to the world for the foreseeable
future and pledged to provide at least six years notice prior to termination of
GPS operations or elimination of the GPS SPS.

Both offers were formally reiterated in a 1994 letter from the FAA’s chief, David
Hinson, to ICAO, reaffirming the U.S. government’s intention to provide GPS
SPS free of charge for at least 10 years. In 1995, President Clinton once again
confirmed the government’s commitment to provide GPS signals to international
civil users in a statement that was released at an ICAO meeting in
Montreal in March.

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