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What is TAA in Aviation? (Terminal Arrival Altitude)

Updated: March 10, 2024

Understanding Terminal Arrival Altitude (TAA) in Aviation

In the world of aviation, there are numerous terms and abbreviations that pilots and air traffic controllers use to communicate and navigate through the skies. One such term is the Terminal Arrival Altitude (TAA), which plays a crucial role in ensuring the safe and efficient arrival of aircraft at their destination. In this article, we will explore what TAA is, its significance in aviation, and how it is used in practice.

The Importance of Terminal Arrival Altitude (TAA)

Terminal Arrival Altitude (TAA) is a specified altitude that pilots must adhere to during the arrival phase of a flight, particularly when approaching an airport or a specific terminal area. It serves as a vertical boundary that ensures the safe separation of aircraft and facilitates the orderly flow of air traffic. By maintaining the designated TAA, pilots can avoid potential conflicts with other aircraft, terrain, or obstacles in the vicinity.

One of the primary objectives of establishing a Terminal Arrival Altitude is to provide pilots with a clear and standardized altitude reference point during the approach and landing phases of flight. This allows for better situational awareness and aids pilots in executing the necessary maneuvers, such as descending to a specific altitude or intercepting an instrument approach procedure.

Terminal Arrival Altitude (TAA) in Practice

When planning a flight, pilots consult various navigation charts and approach plates that provide critical information about the airport and its surrounding airspace. These charts typically include the TAA for each instrument approach procedure available at the airport. The TAA is usually depicted as a bold line with numerical values indicating the altitude in feet above mean sea level (MSL).

During the approach, pilots must descend and maintain the TAA until they either intercept the final approach course or reach the initial approach fix (IAF) for the specific procedure they are flying. The TAA serves as a transition altitude between the enroute segment of the flight and the final approach segment, allowing pilots to navigate safely and efficiently towards their intended landing runway.

It is important to note that the Terminal Arrival Altitude may vary depending on factors such as the type of instrument approach procedure, aircraft category, and specific airspace requirements. For example, precision instrument approaches, such as ILS (Instrument Landing System) approaches, often have lower TAA values compared to non-precision approaches like VOR (VHF Omnidirectional Range) approaches.

Moreover, pilots must also consider any published altitude restrictions or step-down fixes that may exist within the instrument approach procedure. These restrictions ensure that aircraft descend in a controlled manner, providing adequate separation from terrain or obstacles as they approach the airport.


The Terminal Arrival Altitude (TAA) is a critical component of instrument approach procedures, providing pilots with a standardized altitude reference during the arrival phase of flight. By adhering to the designated TAA, pilots can safely navigate through terminal areas, maintain separation from other aircraft, and avoid potential conflicts with terrain or obstacles. Understanding and following the TAA is essential for ensuring the safe and efficient arrival of aircraft at their destination.

For more information on instrument approach procedures and the Terminal Arrival Altitude, refer to the FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).

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