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Cessna 172 Skyhawk - characteristics, history, reasons for popularity

Cessna 172 Skyhawk

Omnipresent Skyhawk

Cessna 172 - a single-engine monoplane with a high wing and an all-metal body. It was conceived as a "flying car", but became a "legend", a "classic" of civil aviation and a "flying desk".

One of the most popular monoplanes in aviation history. In the period with 1956 on 2020 Mr., sold approximately 43000 aircraft, including modifications.

The pandemic has generally had a positive impact on the volume of air travel and the demand for light aircraft has grown. With 241 Cessna 172SPs sold in 2020, the Skyhawk is once again the best-selling civil aviation aircraft in its class. For comparison, 126 units were sold in 2019.

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk, which can be purchased off the production lines in Wichita, Kansas today, has the following specifications:

Maximum cruising speed 230 km/h
Maximum flight speed 302 km/h
Maximum flight range 1185 km
Maximum flight altitude 4267 m
Max takeoff weight 1157 kg
Usable fuel volume 201 l
Luggage capacity 54 kg
Maximum number of people 4

On the new Cessna 172 minimum price set 432000 dollars.

As can be seen from the performance characteristics, this is not the most frisky aircraft by modern standards, and it is also not intended to participate in beauty contests. Skyhawk turned out to be somehow integral, it combines simplicity of design with manufacturability - such a comfortable retro with modern Garmin G1000 NXi avionics; in the cabin there are comfortable chairs with the ability to adjust, air conditioning, LED lighting, and even USB connectors.

On the Textron Aviation website, you can download an advertising brochure (we moved it to ourselves for your convenience), it contains a detailed description of the new aircraft.

Reason #1 - Multipurpose

The first production Cessna was released in 1956 and it immediately became popular. In America, a well-developed network of small runways, and the light Cessna was enough for 200 m for take-off and 400 m for landing, besides, it is able to land even on a dirt runway. At that time, it became a clear competitive advantage.

At the start of sales, the price of the base model was 8995 US dollars. During the first 5 years of production, 4195 cars were sold.

As in the 1950s as it is today, the 172 is not only used by private pilots in love with the sky, it is great for commercial use. And here one does not interfere with the other.

Here are the most popular examples:

  • pilot training - use flight schools and private instructors;
  • aircraft rental - for self-piloting;
  • short hauls - business and private, to quickly get to remote or hard-to-reach places;
  • air tourism - thanks to the location of the wings and panoramic windows, a 360-degree view comes off the cockpit of the 172nd; you can organize a short sightseeing tour, a romantic date, photo or video shooting, for example, a flight over the Russian north;
  • is in service with the Air Force various countries - more often used as a flight simulator, as well as for surveying and transporting the wounded.

Reason #2 - Countless Modifications

When talking about the Cessna 172, it's impossible to ignore its history. For 66 years, more than 25 basic models of the Cessna 172 aircraft have been produced and we will not undertake to calculate how many of them actually existed. Each new model carried certain changes that are difficult to describe in one article, but I would like to mention some points.

Rapid takeoff

The first prototype of the 172 was presented in November 1955. Inherited from its predecessor, the Cessna 170 four-seat monoplane, it inherited: an all-metal hull, a number of engines, a three-wheel landing gear, a high-lying wing with V-shaped struts.

From the new - the tail unit has changed; a set of instruments for visual flight appeared, a small luggage compartment, the cabin became more comfortable. As for the chassis, it remained tricycle, but the rack was changed and the front wheel became swivel; now all processes on the ground, including taxiing, have been simplified.

The driving force is a 145 hp Continental O-300 six-cylinder piston engine. The overhaul period of such an engine was 1800 hours. An attempt to install more complex Continental models was not successful - when used at low speeds, there were problems with reliability.

By 1960, the designers changed the tail unit and provided mounts for float landing gear, this expanded the scope of the aircraft.

In 1965, the model came out 172F, which was collected under license in France. On its basis, developed T-41A Mescalero - the first training aircraft for the US Air Force.

Review: "These aircraft are very well built and will always be our first choice for flight training." Epic Flight Academy, USA.

Since 1968, Cessna has powered its aircraft with Lycoming Engines. The first was the O-320 series motor with a capacity of 150 hp, this is 5 hp. more than the Continental. The minimum requirements are fuel with an octane rating of 80/87 or 100, depending on the modification.

All attempts by Cessna to install more sophisticated engines on the Skyhawk significantly increased the cost of the aircraft and the cost of maintaining them. Models FR172 Reims and R172K Hawk XP, at various times produced under license in Europe with the Continental IO-360 series injection engine, but did not gain distribution.

Cessna 172RG Cutlass notable for being equipped with a variable pitch propeller, a 180 hp Lycoming O-360-F1A6 engine. and retractable landing gear. All this made it possible to develop a cruising speed of up to 260 km / h and improved take-off performance. The price was $19,000 higher than the base model of the same year.

It was mainly purchased by US flight schools as a sophisticated simulator, a flight on such a flight is necessary to obtain a commercial pilot's license. Between 1980 and 1984, 1,177 aircraft were built, production ceased in 1985. The aircraft was sold as the 172nd, but certified as Cessna 175.

A new 1970 Cessna 172 cost $12,500, with an average salary of $6,186 per year.

In 1986, US insurance costs skyrocketed, pushing up the price of new aircraft and, consequently, a sharp decline in sales. Because of this, Textron Aviation discontinued production of 5 aircraft models - 182, 206, 210, 185 and 172nd Skyhawk.

Same but better

After 10 years of a break, Cessna returns to the market the aircraft in modification 172R, and with it two more gliders: Skylane and Stationary.

It was not a clean slate, the performance and capabilities of the new Skyhawk were largely the same as those of its predecessors, but there were many significant changes.

It is very important that Cessna completely changed the interior - the dashboard was redesigned and plastic was replaced; the upholstery and quality of the seats have improved, it has become possible to adjust them according to the angle of inclination; a new ventilation system. The airframe has become better protected from corrosion, sound insulation, glazing, internal and external lighting have been improved.

This is the first Skyhawk powered by a 160 hp Lycoming IO-360-L2A injection engine. at 2400 rpm. Easy to maintain, fuel consumption 15–20 l/100 km, maximum takeoff weight 1111 kg. Considered the most efficient.

The package also included a new line of Silver-Crown Plus avionics. The equipment was modern but problematic. When purchasing a refurbished Skyhawk, pay attention to the service history of the avionics, in particular the KAP140 autopilot computer and its servos.

By 1998, the engine was finalized: the number of revolutions was increased to 2700 per minute and in the model 172S, have already installed a 180 motorbike. The maximum takeoff weight increased to 1159 kg.

As standard equipment, the Garmin G1000 avionics package and leather seats with comfortable seat belts are installed, AmSafe airbags are built-in. Sold under the name Skyhawk SP, certified as Cessna 172S.

For ease of control and opportunities during planning, the aircraft was nicknamed Skyhawk (Skyhawk) - a sky hawk.

In 2010, the model was introduced Cessna 172 Electric-powered with electric motor. The device was probably planned to be sold as a version for walking and training, where the duration of a single flight rarely exceeds one hour. In 2012, a prototype, powered by two Panacis quick-detachable batteries, made several successful training flights, but was never put into production.

Diesel model Skyhawk JT-A, was introduced in 2014 with a 155 hp Continental CD-155 engine. Top speed is 243 km/h, consumes 11 l/h less fuel and has a maximum range of 1639 km/h, which is 38% more than the base 172.

Externally, the JT-A is distinguished by the fact that the air intakes are located in front and the propeller is three-bladed.

In this situation, saving on aviation gasoline does not cover the high cost of the device and its maintenance. JT-A is more interesting for flight schools, as they are really flown a lot there. In 2018, the aircraft was withdrawn from serial production, but is available on order as a modification.

Reason #3 - Affordable

Plane & Pilot magazine predicted for 2021 that a 1970 Skyhawk would cost roughly $85,000. We found one aircraft of this year among fresh ads for sale - the owner asks for $ 79,500 for it.

There are at least a few reasons why buying a refurbished aircraft would be justified:

a) the opportunity to save money;

b) the opportunity to choose an interesting modification for a personal project.

The first production models of the Cessna 172 are still on the move and take to the skies. Some aircraft have retained their authenticity, some have been converted to the needs of the owner. The Cessna 172 Skyhawk, of course, cannot be compared with the Lego constructor, however, the owners often do not just replace worn-out components, but complete modernization.

For example: The engine bay is designed to be easy to service or replace. It is the same with the dashboard - the standard set of instruments for visual flight is changed to Dynon or Garmin 1000 computers with wireless communication function, an autopilot is installed.

From the ads: A 2001 Cessna 172R, after being used in a US flight school, can be purchased for $100,000 (price does not include sales tax).

If you decide to buy a used Cessna 172, pay attention to ship's total flight time. Remember that this is a favorite model for training in flight schools. Despite the fact that the landing gear has a large margin of safety, beginners fly a lot, but more importantly, they practice takeoff and landing. Hour after hour. This is reflected in the wear of all systems.

You can buy a used Cessna 172 in Russia, or you can connect to the search one of the companies that help you choose aircraft according to the specified parameters. They are not limited to the offer of the Russian market and deliver devices from the USA and Europe. Representatives of the company will help you choose the right aircraft, take care of transportation, prepare the necessary documents, inspect, maintain or repair.

Reason #4 - Safe

Safety - perhaps this is the main reason why the Cessna 172 is worth buying as the first manned vehicle.

  • Forgiving newbie mistakes. Easy to fly, has stable and predictable flight patterns.
  • Low landing speed, thanks to the large and well-designed Fowler flaps.
  • Rugged construction. This includes both the all-metal body and the chassis design, which have a large margin of safety and can withstand loads from 6 to 8-10 landings per hour.
  • AoA (angle-of-attack) - helps to control the flight at a reduced speed to prevent stalling. In the basic configuration, the sensor has been available since 2016.

Pilots joke that you can change the direction of the flight even with the help of a door, just open or close it.

Not many, after they receive a pilot's license, continue to fly the 172nd. The machine ceases to satisfy the increased demands of pilots in terms of speed and flight range. With the Cessna, those pilots remain, for whom, to a greater extent, the atmosphere of the flight is important.

Reason #5 - Reliable

There is an opinion on the net that two famous flights contributed to the popularity of the Cessna 172:

  1. 1958 Bob Tim and Joe Cook made the longest and most boring non-stop flight ever. In a converted plane, they flew in circles over the southeastern desert and spent in the air, according to Wikipedia - 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes and five seconds; flew during this time approximately 240,000 kilometers.

This plane "floats" under the ceiling at McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas.

  1. May 28, 1987 Matthias Rust landed a Cessna 172B on the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge and taxied to Red Square.

As a result, Matthias received 4 years for hooliganism, violation of aviation laws and state borders. Of these, he served 1 year and was pardoned, and the plane is now in the Berlin Deutsches Technikmuseum.

We did not find evidence that these flights were organized by Textron Avion. It turns out that a large-scale advertising campaign that told the world about the reliability of the Cessna 172 aircraft cost the manufacturer completely free of charge.

Reason #6 - Loyalty to design

The Skyhawk is sometimes compared to the Volkswagen Beetle for its popularity, size, and classic cockpit design. Over the past 66 years, the least change has occurred with the appearance of the aircraft - each stage was aimed at improving reliability, aerodynamics, flight comfort and maintenance.

The United States Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) calculated that with the onset of the pandemic, the Skyhawk again became in demand and, in terms of presence in the sky, even surpassed the popular Boeing 737.

Interestingly, the body of the aircraft is still made of all-metal plates, and not composite materials, for which the manufacturer is often criticized. From the point of view of the consumer, this approach is justified. The metal case is easier and cheaper to maintain. In addition, the production process has already been debugged, and the introduction of a composite airframe will ultimately increase the cost of the aircraft and the cost of its maintenance and repair.

Cessna has been developing a composite structure for its aircraft, including the 172nd model. Work progressed to such an extent that in 2006 the concept aircraft was presented, but Skyhawk in composite hull, never entered the series.

Reason #7 - Service Costs

The cost of maintaining a Skyhawk is difficult to calculate - it will depend on the modification and location. If you can save money on aircraft maintenance by obtaining a "certificate of a technical specialist", then you will have to pay the airfield for basing and using the runway.

For example, let's take the prices of one of the airfields near Moscow, Myachkovo. In order for the aircraft to stand under the roof, the hangar rental will cost 40,000 rubles / month.

The placement of an aircraft with a mass of up to 3 tons and a wingspan / propeller diameter of up to 12 m costs:

On ground sites 15000 rub/month
On paved/concrete sites 22000 rub/month
Temporary accommodation in the absence of a contract (up to 8 hours) 1000 rub
Temporary accommodation in the absence of a contract (per day) 2000 rub
Take-off landing 1200 rub

At the same time, a training flight in flying clubs near Moscow on the 172nd costs 14,700–19,000 rubles for a 60-minute flight with an instructor. It is more difficult to rent a plane for an independent flight, but it is also possible.

Compared to other brands, Cessna parts are quite inexpensive. Textron Aviation has an extensive network of service centers around the world, and used parts are usually available in abundance. Plus, thanks to its popularity, technicians know this aircraft very well.

Length 8.3 m
Height 2.7 m
Wingspan 11 m
Wing area 16.17 sq.m
Cabin size
Height 1.2 m
Width 1m
Length 3.6 m
Maximum number of people 4
Luggage capacity
Weight 54 kg
Volume 0.85 cu. m
Empty weight 762 kg
Maximum takeoff weight 1160 kg
Max takeoff weight 1157 kg
Maximum landing weight 1157 kg
Useful fuel weight 144 kg
Usable fuel volume 201 l
Payload 389 kg
Maximum payload 395 kg
Full fuel payload 254 kg
Flight characteristics
Maximum cruising speed 230 km/h
Maximum flight range 1185 km
Takeoff distance 497 m
takeoff run 293 m
Roll out 407 m
Landing run 175 m
Maximum flight altitude 4267 m
Maximum rate of climb 223 m/min
Maximum flight speed 302 km/h
Stall speed 89 km/h
Manufacturer Lycoming (Lycoming)
Model IO-360-L2A
output power 180 HP
Screw McCauley (McCauley)
Performance data is based on standard conditions with no wind. Performance assumes a flat, dry paved runway. Flying with one pilot on 45% power with 45 minutes of reserve.

Popular questions:

What documents are needed for legal flights in the Russian Federation on a Cessna 172?

Based FAP-128, p. 2.20, we have compiled a checklist with a list of documents required for flights on a light-engine vessel:

  1. certificate of state registration;
  2. airworthiness certificate (certificate of airworthiness);
  3. permission for an on-board radio station, if the aircraft is equipped with radio equipment;
  4. certificates of aircraft crew members and documents confirming the compliance of crew members with the requirements for their state of health;
  5. certificate of passing the skills test;
  6. a list of persons on board the aircraft;
  7. if the owner of the aircraft is not on board, the PIC must have a power of attorney in any form.

Is it possible to fly "visual" planes in the dark?

A pilot, in preparation for a private pilot's license, "must have 3 hours of flight time at night, including five take-offs and landings at night, while serving as captain of the aircraft." Quote from FAP-147, item 3.3.

Restriction - the airfield must be equipped with searchlights to illuminate the runway.

What do you need to do to become a Tsesna pilot from scratch if you are over 30?

What matters is the state of your health, not the number of years.

Take a familiarization flight at the nearest airfield, talk to the instructor to understand if you need it. Most often, there are flight schools or courses at airfields.

The cost of courses differs by region and form of training; in the Moscow region, a full-time course in piloting a Cessna 172 can cost 890,000 rubles. The check includes: 240 academic hours of theory, 7 hours of practice on the simulator, 40 hours of flight training.

Before buying a course, we also recommend that you find reviews about it and check the permits.

How to get a certificate of a technical specialist in order to independently repair an aircraft?

The issuance of aviation personnel certificates is a public service that provides Rosaviatsiya through their local authorities.

If I learn to fly a Cessna 172, will I be able to fly other aircraft?

In the certificate of a private pilot, there will be a column on the qualification mark, where in Russian it says “aircraft with one engine, land”, and in English “single engine land”, without reference to the model. The allowable takeoff weight of such an aircraft is up to 5700 kg. It turns out that you can fly almost all single-engine aircraft.

The video below breaks down the learning process in detail:

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