Flight Redemptions

What is TC in Aviation? (True Course)

Updated: February 25, 2024

The Significance of True Course in Aviation

In the world of aviation, numerous terms and abbreviations are used to describe various aspects of navigation and flight planning. One such term is True Course (TC), which plays a crucial role in determining the actual direction an aircraft needs to fly to reach its destination. Understanding True Course is essential for pilots and navigators to ensure accurate navigation and safe travel. In this article, we will explore the concept of True Course in depth, its importance in aviation, and how it is calculated and utilized.

What is True Course?

True Course (TC) refers to the actual direction a pilot or navigator must follow to reach their intended destination. It is defined as the angle between the aircraft's longitudinal axis and a reference meridian, typically the true north. True Course is unaffected by wind or other atmospheric conditions and remains constant throughout the flight. It provides a fixed heading that helps pilots maintain a straight path and reach their destination efficiently.

True Course is a fundamental concept in aviation, serving as a foundation for flight planning and navigation.

Calculating True Course

To calculate True Course, pilots and navigators need to consider multiple factors, including the aircraft's heading, the desired track, and the wind's effect. The process involves several steps:

Determine the aircraft's heading using a compass or other navigational instruments.
Identify the desired track, which is the direction the aircraft needs to fly to reach its destination.
Take into account the wind's speed and direction. This information can be obtained from weather reports or on-board instruments.
Apply the wind correction angle (WCA) to the desired track. The WCA compensates for the wind's effect, ensuring the aircraft stays on course.
Adjust the heading of the aircraft by the WCA to obtain the True Course.

By accurately calculating True Course, pilots can compensate for wind drift and maintain a direct path to their destination, saving time and fuel.

The Importance of True Course in Aviation

True Course plays a vital role in aviation for several reasons:

Accurate Navigation

Knowing the True Course allows pilots to navigate accurately, ensuring they stay on track and avoid deviating from their intended flight path. By maintaining the correct heading, pilots can navigate through various waypoints, air routes, and airspace boundaries, ensuring the safety of the aircraft and its occupants.

Moreover, True Course is used in conjunction with other navigation systems and instruments, such as GPS (Global Positioning System) or VOR (VHF Omnidirectional Range), to provide accurate positioning information and assist pilots in determining their current location.

Flight Planning

Flight planning involves determining the most efficient route between two points, considering factors such as distance, airspace restrictions, weather conditions, and fuel consumption. True Course serves as a foundation for flight planning, allowing pilots to calculate the optimal heading and track for their journey.

Pilots use True Course to plot their route on aeronautical charts, taking into account airways, waypoints, and other navigational aids. By calculating the True Course at different segments of the flight, pilots can plan fuel stops, estimate arrival times, and ensure compliance with air traffic control instructions.

Communication with Air Traffic Control

True Course is essential for effective communication between pilots and air traffic control (ATC). When pilots contact ATC for clearance or instructions, they often need to provide their current heading or the True Course they intend to fly.

By using True Course, pilots can convey their intentions accurately, ensuring ATC has a clear understanding of the aircraft's planned path. This facilitates efficient traffic management, separation of aircraft, and overall airspace safety.


True Course is a critical concept in aviation, providing pilots and navigators with the actual direction they need to follow to reach their destination. By accurately calculating True Course and compensating for wind drift, pilots can navigate accurately, plan their flights efficiently, and communicate effectively with air traffic control. Understanding True Course is essential for safe and successful flights, making it an indispensable aspect of aviation navigation.

To learn more about aviation navigation and related terms, you can visit FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) for detailed information.

Recent Posts