Flight Redemptions

What is TAT in Aviation? (Total Air Temperature)

Updated: March 10, 2024

Total Air Temperature (TAT)

Total Air Temperature (TAT) is a crucial concept in aviation that plays a significant role in aircraft performance and safety. TAT refers to the temperature of the air surrounding an aircraft as it moves through the atmosphere. It is a vital parameter for pilots and engineers to consider when planning flights and ensuring the aircraft operates within safe limits.

Understanding TAT is essential for pilots and engineers as it directly affects various aspects of flight, including aircraft performance, engine efficiency, and the accuracy of instruments. Let's delve deeper into the significance of TAT in aviation and explore its implications.

The Importance of Total Air Temperature

TAT is a critical measurement because it provides a more accurate representation of the air's actual temperature that affects the aircraft during flight. Unlike other temperature measurements, such as static air temperature (SAT), which represents the temperature of still air, TAT takes into account the effects of air compression due to the aircraft's forward motion. This compression causes an increase in air temperature, known as ram rise.

One of the primary reasons TAT is vital is its impact on engine performance. Aircraft engines are designed to operate within specific temperature limits to ensure optimal efficiency and prevent damage. By considering the TAT, pilots and engineers can accurately determine the engine's operating conditions and adjust parameters accordingly. This information allows them to monitor engine health and make necessary adjustments to prevent overheating or other critical issues that may compromise safety.

Furthermore, TAT is crucial for determining the aircraft's true airspeed (TAS). TAS refers to the actual speed of an aircraft relative to the air mass in which it is flying. To calculate TAS accurately, pilots need to know the TAT, as it affects the air density, which, in turn, affects the aircraft's speed. By incorporating TAT into the calculations, pilots can obtain more precise airspeed readings, enabling them to make informed decisions during flight.

Measuring Total Air Temperature

To measure TAT, aircraft are equipped with Total Air Temperature Probes (TAT probes). These probes are strategically placed on the aircraft's exterior to capture the temperature of the air as it flows past. TAT probes are designed to provide accurate readings even while the aircraft is in motion, taking into account the ram rise phenomenon caused by air compression.

The TAT probe consists of a temperature sensor enclosed in a protective casing. This casing is designed to shield the sensor from direct exposure to sunlight and other external factors that may affect the accuracy of the readings. The probe is strategically positioned to ensure it captures the undisturbed airflow, allowing for precise measurements of the TAT.

Once the TAT probe captures the air temperature, the data is transmitted to the aircraft's flight instruments, where it is displayed to the pilots. The TAT reading is typically displayed in degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit, allowing pilots to monitor the temperature and make adjustments as necessary.


Total Air Temperature (TAT) is a fundamental concept in aviation that impacts various aspects of flight, including aircraft performance, engine efficiency, and instrument accuracy. By considering TAT, pilots and engineers can make informed decisions regarding aircraft operation and ensure the safety and efficiency of flights.

Understanding the significance of TAT allows pilots to monitor engine health, adjust parameters, and avoid critical issues such as overheating. Additionally, incorporating TAT into calculations enables pilots to obtain accurate airspeed readings, leading to more informed decision-making during flight.

So the next time you step onto an aircraft, remember the importance of Total Air Temperature and the role it plays in ensuring a safe and efficient journey through the skies.

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