Flight Redemptions

What is TH in Aviation? (True Heading)

Updated: March 11, 2024

The True Heading: A Guide to Understanding Aviation Terminology

Aviation is an intricate world filled with a plethora of technical terms and acronyms. Pilots, air traffic controllers, and aviation enthusiasts are well-versed in this specialized language that helps ensure safe and efficient operations in the skies. One such term is the True Heading (TH), which plays a crucial role in navigation and flight planning. In this article, we will explore the concept of True Heading, its significance in aviation, and how it is calculated.

The Significance of True Heading in Aviation

When it comes to aviation, precision and accuracy are paramount. Pilots rely on various instruments and navigational aids to determine their position and course. One of these tools is the True Heading, which provides the actual direction of an aircraft in relation to the true north pole. Unlike Magnetic Heading (MH), which is influenced by the Earth's magnetic field, True Heading remains constant and unaffected by magnetic anomalies.

Knowing the True Heading is essential for accurate navigation, especially during long-distance flights and when flying over areas with significant magnetic variation. By using True Heading, pilots can plot their courses, calculate wind correction angles, and determine their position with greater accuracy. This information is crucial for flight planning, fuel management, and maintaining the desired track.

Furthermore, air traffic controllers also rely on the True Heading to provide accurate instructions to pilots. By referencing the aircraft's True Heading, controllers can issue headings and vector aircraft in a precise manner, ensuring safe separation and efficient traffic flow.

Calculating True Heading

Calculating True Heading involves a combination of Magnetic Heading and Magnetic Variation. Magnetic Variation, also known as Magnetic Declination, refers to the angular difference between True North and Magnetic North at a specific location. This value varies depending on the geographic location and changes over time due to the gradual movement of the Earth's magnetic field.

To determine the True Heading, pilots need to know the Magnetic Heading and the Magnetic Variation for their current location. They can obtain the Magnetic Heading from the aircraft's compass system or by referencing navigational instruments such as a Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) or a Heading Indicator (HI). The Magnetic Variation can be obtained from various sources, including aeronautical charts, navigation databases, or by using online resources provided by aviation authorities.

Once the Magnetic Heading and Magnetic Variation are known, pilots can calculate the True Heading using the following formula:

True Heading = Magnetic Heading + Magnetic Variation

For example, if an aircraft's Magnetic Heading is 180 degrees and the Magnetic Variation for the location is 10 degrees west, the True Heading would be:

True Heading = 180 degrees + (-10 degrees) = 170 degrees

By accurately calculating the True Heading, pilots can navigate with confidence and ensure they are on the correct course throughout their journey.


The True Heading is a fundamental concept in aviation that allows pilots and air traffic controllers to navigate accurately and communicate efficiently. By understanding the difference between True Heading and Magnetic Heading, pilots can account for magnetic variations and plan their flights with precision. The ability to calculate the True Heading is a crucial skill for pilots, ensuring safe and successful operations in the skies.

Next time you're on a flight or observing aircraft movements, remember the significance of True Heading in aviation. It is one of the many technical terms that contribute to the smooth and organized functioning of the aviation industry. So, the next time you hear the term True Heading, you'll have a better understanding of its importance in the world of aviation.

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