What is T OR TK OR TRK on Boeing 737? (Track)

Track (abbreviated as T or TK or TRK) is an essential concept in aviation, particularly when it comes to aircraft navigation. In the context of the Boeing 737, track refers to the direction in which the aircraft is moving horizontally over the ground. It is crucial for pilots to have an accurate understanding of their aircraft’s track to ensure safe and efficient flight. Let’s delve deeper into the concept of track and its significance in the operation of the Boeing 737.

Understanding Track in Aviation

In the field of aviation, track is used in various contexts and refers to different aspects of an aircraft’s movement. However, the primary focus here is on the track over the ground, known as the ground track. It represents the path that the aircraft follows relative to the Earth’s surface, accounting for factors such as wind speed and direction.

When an aircraft is flying in still air (no wind), its heading and track will be the same, as there are no external forces affecting its trajectory. However, when wind is present, it can cause the aircraft to deviate from its intended path, resulting in a difference between the heading and track.

The heading of an aircraft refers to the direction in which the aircraft’s nose is pointed. It is usually expressed in degrees from north, measured clockwise. On the other hand, the track of an aircraft represents the actual path it is flying in relation to the Earth’s surface.

For instance, let’s say a Boeing 737 is flying with a heading of 280 degrees (toward the west) while experiencing a crosswind from the north. Due to the wind pushing the aircraft to the south, its track would deviate from the intended direction, resulting in a different value. In this scenario, the aircraft’s track might be, for example, 270 degrees (still to the west but slightly south of the intended heading).

Considering the importance of track accuracy, modern aircraft like the Boeing 737 are equipped with advanced navigation systems that integrate data from GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites, inertial navigation systems, and other sensors to determine and maintain the most precise track possible.

Track Control on the Boeing 737

On the Boeing 737, pilots have various means to control and monitor the aircraft’s track. The primary control mechanism is the autopilot system, which allows for automatic track control based on the inputs provided by the flight management system (FMS).

The flight management system determines the desired track by considering the aircraft’s planned route, wind data, and other relevant factors. It then commands the autopilot to adjust the heading to achieve and maintain the intended track. The system continuously monitors the aircraft’s actual track and makes necessary corrections if deviations occur.

In addition to the autopilot and FMS, pilots also have manual control over the aircraft’s track. They can use the control wheel or control yoke to manually adjust the heading and align it with the desired track. This manual control is particularly useful during takeoff, landing, and other critical flight phases where precise track control is essential.

Furthermore, Boeing 737 pilots have access to various instruments and displays that provide real-time information about the aircraft’s track. This includes the primary flight display (PFD), where the track is displayed as a line indicating the aircraft’s path over the ground.

Ensuring accurate track control on the Boeing 737 enhances the safety and efficiency of flights. By maintaining the desired track, pilots can minimize fuel consumption, reduce flight time, and optimize the aircraft’s performance.


In summary, track is a vital aspect of aircraft navigation, including the operation of the Boeing 737. It represents the aircraft’s horizontal movement over the ground, accounting for factors such as wind. Understanding and controlling the track is crucial for pilots to ensure safe and efficient flight. With the advanced navigation systems and control mechanisms available on the Boeing 737, pilots can maintain precise track control throughout their journeys. By doing so, they improve the overall performance of the aircraft and enhance the travel experience for passengers.

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