This paper presents selected research results of the DFG founded project group, consisting of four institutes focusing on diagnostic methods in thermal coating processes. The aim of this group is to characterize the Atmospheric Plasma Spraying (APS) process by means of diagnostic methods so that – based on the requirement profile of the coating – appropriate adjusting of the process parameters can be realized. For this purpose, different diagnostic tools like Particle Shape Imaging, Laser Doppler Anemometry, Schlieren Technique, Particle Image Velocimetry, Enthalpy Probe, DPV 2000 and Thermography were qualified and adjusted to each other. Most of the results presented in this article are limited to the area close to the substrate which is difficult to handle with diagnostic methods. Additionally, new achievements concerning nozzle design and system enhancements are introduced.