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Also from: Traffic Collision Avoidance System

TCAS is an aircraft system designed to alert crew to potentially conflicting traffic. It works independently to ground based systems, using the SSR transponder signals. Therefore it can only detect other aircraft that are also transponder equipped.

Detection criteria

Detection of traffic is based on certain time criteria. Aircraft within the range of the TCAS are interrogated in order to determine their range, speed, altitude, and bearing.

These pictures depict the protected volume of airspace around a TCAS equipped aircraft.



Note that in areas with a large number of transponder equipped aircraft and ground interrogators, the number of aircraft tracked by TCAS is reduced to avoid saturating transponder frequencies. Range may be reduced to less than 10nm. In this case, some traffic within the surveillance area may not be displayed, although TA and RA capabilities remain unaffected.


Climb RAs are inhibited near an aircraft's service ceiling. Aircraft with a vertical speed greater than 10,000fpm are not tracked.

See also

Categories: General Theory

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