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What is TAR in Aviation? (Terminal Approach Radar)

Updated: March 10, 2024

The Importance of Terminal Approach Radar (TAR) in Aviation

Aviation is a complex and highly regulated industry that relies on advanced technologies to ensure safe and efficient operations. One such technology is the Terminal Approach Radar (TAR), which plays a crucial role in guiding aircraft during their approach and landing phases. TAR provides air traffic controllers with real-time information about the position and trajectory of aircraft, enabling them to safely manage the flow of traffic and prevent collisions.

What is Terminal Approach Radar (TAR)?

Terminal Approach Radar, commonly known as TAR, is a radar system used in aviation to track and monitor aircraft during their final approach to an airport. It is typically located in the vicinity of the airport and operates within a relatively short range. TAR uses radio waves to detect and track the position, altitude, and speed of aircraft, providing air traffic controllers with a comprehensive picture of the airspace.

TAR works by emitting a series of radio waves and measuring the time it takes for the waves to bounce back after hitting an aircraft. By analyzing the Doppler shift in the returned waves, TAR can determine the aircraft's speed and direction of movement. This information is then displayed on the controller's radar screen, allowing them to make informed decisions about aircraft sequencing, spacing, and separation.

Terminal Approach Radar is an essential component of the air traffic control system, particularly in busy terminal areas where aircraft movements are frequent and require precise coordination. It enhances situational awareness for both controllers and pilots, reducing the risk of mid-air collisions and providing a smooth and efficient flow of traffic.

The Functions of Terminal Approach Radar (TAR)

TAR serves several important functions in aviation, contributing to the safety and efficiency of air traffic management. Let's explore some of its key functions:

Terminal Approach Guidance

One of the primary functions of TAR is to provide precise guidance to aircraft during their final approach and landing phases. By tracking the aircraft's position, altitude, and speed, TAR enables air traffic controllers to issue timely instructions to pilots, ensuring they maintain the correct glide path and approach angle. This guidance is crucial, especially in adverse weather conditions or low visibility, where pilots heavily rely on radar information to navigate and align with the runway.

TAR also assists in monitoring the separation between aircraft, ensuring that they maintain a safe distance from each other during the approach. By continuously updating the aircraft's position and speed, TAR allows controllers to adjust the sequencing and spacing of aircraft, minimizing the risk of collisions and maintaining an orderly flow of traffic.

Conflict Resolution and Traffic Management

Another vital function of TAR is conflict resolution and traffic management. By accurately tracking the position and trajectory of multiple aircraft simultaneously, TAR enables air traffic controllers to identify potential conflicts or deviations from the planned route. If two or more aircraft are on a collision course, the controller can intervene and issue instructions to alter their headings or altitudes, ensuring safe separation.

TAR also plays a crucial role in managing the flow of traffic in terminal areas. By monitoring the speed and spacing between aircraft, controllers can optimize the arrival and departure sequencing, minimizing delays and maximizing the capacity of the airport. This function becomes particularly important during peak hours or when there are disruptions to the normal operation, such as adverse weather conditions or runway closures.

Emergency Situations and Search and Rescue Operations

TAR is instrumental in emergency situations and search and rescue operations. In the event of an aircraft emergency, such as an engine failure or a medical emergency on board, TAR enables controllers to quickly identify and track the affected aircraft. This information allows them to prioritize the emergency aircraft and provide the necessary assistance, including vectoring them towards the nearest suitable airport or coordinating with other emergency services.

Moreover, TAR can be utilized in search and rescue operations, providing real-time tracking and monitoring of aircraft involved in the search. By precisely determining the aircraft's position and trajectory, SAR teams can better coordinate their efforts and optimize search patterns, increasing the chances of locating and rescuing individuals in distress.


Terminal Approach Radar (TAR) is a vital technology in aviation that ensures safe and efficient operations during the approach and landing phases. By providing real-time tracking and monitoring of aircraft, TAR enables air traffic controllers to guide pilots, manage traffic, resolve conflicts, and respond to emergencies. Its accurate and timely information enhances situational awareness and contributes to the overall safety and efficiency of air traffic management. TAR continues to evolve alongside advancements in technology, further improving the capabilities and effectiveness of air traffic control systems.

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