Flight Redemptions

What is TC in Aviation? (Turn Coordinator)

Updated: March 10, 2024

The Importance of Turn Coordinators in Aviation

Aviation is a complex and highly regulated industry that relies on a wide array of instruments and systems to ensure the safety and efficiency of flight operations. One such instrument is the turn coordinator (TC), which plays a crucial role in helping pilots maintain control and stay oriented during maneuvers. In this article, we will explore the function and significance of turn coordinators in aviation.

What is a Turn Coordinator?

A turn coordinator, abbreviated as TC, is an instrument found in the cockpit of an aircraft. It is part of the flight instruments panel and provides pilots with essential information about the aircraft's roll and yaw movements. The TC combines the function of a turn indicator and a coordination indicator, making it a vital tool for maintaining proper control during turns.

The turn coordinator consists of a gyroscopic display that visually indicates the rate of turn and the coordination of the aircraft. It uses a gyroscope to detect the rotational movement of the aircraft around its vertical axis (yaw), while also taking into account the roll and lateral acceleration. This information is then presented to the pilot through a rotating needle and a ball in a curved glass display.

When the aircraft is in coordinated flight, the needle remains centered, indicating that the rate of turn and the roll are balanced. If the needle moves to the left or right, it signifies that the aircraft is rolling or yawing unequally, indicating an uncoordinated turn. The ball in the curved glass display also serves as a visual reference for the pilot, showing whether the aircraft is slipping or skidding.

The Function and Significance of Turn Coordinators

The turn coordinator is a critical instrument for pilots, particularly during turns, and it serves several important functions:

Indicates Rate of Turn: The turn coordinator provides pilots with an accurate indication of the rate at which the aircraft is turning. This information helps them maintain precise control and avoid overbanking or steep turns, which can lead to loss of control.
Assists in Maintaining Coordination: The TC also helps pilots maintain coordination during turns. Coordinated flight is essential for optimal performance and safety. When the needle remains centered, it indicates that the aircraft's roll and yaw movements are balanced, minimizing the risk of a stall or spin.
Prevents Spatial Disorientation: Spatial disorientation, also known as the lean and graveyard spiral, is a significant risk in aviation. The turn coordinator helps pilots detect and correct any unintentional roll or yaw, preventing them from becoming disoriented and potentially losing control of the aircraft.
Aids in Instrument Flying: In situations where visibility is limited, such as flying in clouds or at night, pilots rely heavily on their instruments to maintain control. The turn coordinator is a crucial instrument for instrument flying, allowing pilots to maintain desired headings and execute turns accurately.

Overall, the turn coordinator plays a vital role in maintaining control, stability, and safety during flight operations. It helps pilots fly more efficiently, reduces the risk of accidents, and ensures a smoother, more comfortable experience for both the crew and passengers.


The turn coordinator is an essential instrument in aviation, providing pilots with critical information about the aircraft's roll and yaw movements. Its function and significance cannot be overstated, as it helps pilots maintain control, stay oriented, and prevent spatial disorientation. The turn coordinator's accuracy and reliability make it a valuable tool for maintaining safe and efficient flight operations. As technology continues to advance, new instruments and systems may emerge, but the turn coordinator will remain a fundamental component of aviation.

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