Radio detection of cosmic-ray air showers requires time synchronization of detectors on a nanosecond level, especially for advanced reconstruction algorithms based on the wavefront curvature and for interferometric analysis approaches. At the Auger Engineering Radio Array, the distributed, autonomous detector stations are time-synchronized via the Global Positioning System which, however, does not provide sufficient timing accuracy. We thus employ a dedicated beacon reference transmitter to correct for event-by-event clock drifts in our offline data analysis. In an independent cross-check of this “beacon correction” using radio pulses emitted by commercial airplanes we have shown that the combined timing accuracy of the two methods is better than 2 nanoseconds. We present the concept, experimental setup and results of both the beacon and airplane timing calibration approaches.