The control over coating quality in plasma spraying is partly dependent on the arc and jet instabilities of the plasma torch. Different forms of instabilities have been observed with different effects on the coating quality. We report on an investigation of these instabilities based on high-speed end-on observation of the arc. The framing rate of 40,500 frames per second has allowed the visualization of the anode attachment movement and the determination of the thickness of the cold gas boundary layer surrounding the arc. The images have been synchronized with voltage traces. Data have been obtained for a range of arc currents, mass flow rates, for different gas injectors and for anodes displaying different amounts of wear. The analysis of the data has led to quantitative correlations between the cold gas boundary layer thickness and the instability mode for the range of operating parameters. The arc instabilities can be seen to enhance the plasma jet instabilities and the cold gas entrainment. These results are particular useful for guiding plasma torch design and operation to minimize the influence of plasma jet instabilities on coating properties.