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Cessna 172

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Cessna 172 Skyhawk
A Cessna 172 just after take-off from the Catalina Island airport
Type Civil utility aircraft
Manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company
Maiden flight November 1955
Introduced 1956
Number built 43,000+[1]
Developed from Cessna 170
Variants T-41 Mescalero
A 1971 Cessna 172L at Kemble Airfield, England, May 2003

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a four-seat, single-engine, high-wing airplane.

More Cessna 172s have been built than any other aircraft. It is probably the most popular flight training aircraft in the world.

Design and development

Measured by its longevity and popularity, the Cessna 172 is the most successful mass produced light aircraft in history. The first production models were delivered in 1956 and they are still in production as of 2008; more than 43,000 have been built.[1] The Skyhawk's main competitors have been the Beechcraft Musketeer and Grumman AA-5 series (neither in production), the Piper Cherokee and, more recently, the Diamond DA40.

The Cessna 172 started life as a tricycle landing gear upgrade from the taildragger Cessna 170, with a basic level of standard equipment. The first flight of the prototype was in November 1955. The 172 became an overnight sales success and over 1400 were built in 1956, its first full year of production.

Early 172s were similar in appearance to the 170, with the same straight aft fuselage and tall gear legs, although the 172 had a straight vertical tail while the 170 had a rounded fin and rudder. Later 172 versions incorporated revised landing gear and a lowered rear deck that allowed an aft window. Cessna advertised this added rear visibility as "Omni-Vision". The final aesthetic development in the mid-1960s, was the sweptback tail which is still in use today. This airframe configuration has remained almost unchanged since then, except for updates in avionics and engines, including the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit in 2005. Production had been halted in the mid-1980s, but was resumed in 1996 with the 160 hp (120 kW) Cessna 172R Skyhawk and was supplemented in 1998 by the 180 hp (135 kW) Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP.


The early Cessna 172 Skyhawks had no rear window and featured a "square" fin design, like this 1957 model

The basic 172 appeared in November 1955 as the 1956 model and remained in production until replaced by the 172A in early 1960. It was equipped with a Continental O-300 145 horsepower (110 kW) six-cylinder, air-cooled engine and had a maximum gross weight of 2200 pounds. Introductory base price was USD$8995 and a total of 4195 were constructed over the five years.[2]


The 1960 model 172A introduced a swept back tail and rudder, as well as float fittings. The price was USD$9450 and 1015 were built.[2]


The 172B was introduced in late 1960 as the 1961 model and introduced a shorter undercarriage, engine mounts lengthened three inches (76 mm) , a reshaped cowling and a pointed propeller spinner.[3] For the first time, the "Skyhawk" name was applied to an available deluxe option package. This added optional equipment included full exterior paint to replace the standard partial paint stripes and standard avionics. The gross weight was increased to Template:Convert.[2]


The 1962 model was the 172C. It brought to the line an optional autopilot and a key starter to replace the previous pull-starter. The seats were redesigned to be six-way adjustable. A child seat was made optional to allow two children to be carried in the baggage area. The 1962 price was USD$9895. A total of 889 172C models were produced.[2]


The 1963 172D model introduced the lower rear fuselage with wraparound Omni-Vision rear window and a one-piece windshield. New rudder and brake pedals were also added. 1146 172Ds were built.[2]

1963 also saw the introduction of the 172D Powermatic. This was equipped with a Continental GO-300E producing Template:Convert and a cruise speed Template:Convert faster than the standard 172D. In reality this was not a new model but was a Cessna 175 Skylark that had been renamed for its last year of production. The Skylark had gained a reputation for poor engine reliability and the renaming of it as a 172 was a marketing attempt to regain sales through rebranding. The move was not a success and neither the 1963 Powermatic nor the Skylark were produced again after the 1963 model year.[2]


The 172E was the 1964 model. The electrical fuses were replaced with circuit breakers. Gross weight was increased to Template:Convert where it would stay until the 172P. 1401 172Es were built that year as production continued to increase.[2]


The 172F introduced electrically-operated flaps to replace the previous lever-operated system.[4] It was built in France by Reims Cessna as the F172 until 1971. These models formed the basis for the US Air Force's T-41A Mescalero primary trainer.

A total of 1436 172Fs were completed.[2]


The 1966 172G introduced a more pointed spinner and sold for USD$12,450 in its basic 172 version and USD$13,300 in the upgraded Skyhawk version. 1597 were built.[2]


The 1967 model 172H was the last Continental O-300 powered model. It also introduced a shorter-stroke nose gear oleo to reduce drag and improve the appearance of the aircraft in flight. A new cowling was used, introducing shock-mounts that transmitted lower noise-levels to the cockpit and reduced cowl cracking. The electric stall warning horn was replaced by a pneumatic one.

The 1967 model 172H sold for USD$10,950 while the Skyhawk version was USD$12,750. 839 were built that year, representing the first year that production was less than the year before.[2]


The 1968 model marked the beginning of the Lycoming powered 172s. The familiar 172 needed to be re-engined because Cessna had cancelled its contract with Continental for their venerable 0-300 6-cyl engine of Template:Convert.[citation needed]

The "I" model was introduced with a Lycoming O-320-E2D engine of Template:Convert, an increase of Template:Convert over the Continental powerplant. The increased horsepower resulted in an increase in optimal cruise from Template:Convert TAS to Template:Convert TAS. There was no change in the sea level rate of climb at Template:Convert per minute.

The 172I also introduced the first standard "T" instrument arrangement. The 172I saw an increase in production to record levels with 1206 built.[2]


The Cessna Company planned to drop the previous 172 configuration for the 1968 model year and replace it with a cantilever-wing/stabilator configuration that would be the 172J. However, as time for model introduction neared, those dealers who were aware of the change began applying pressure on the factory to continue the previous configuration. They felt the new model would be less usable as a trainer. Consequently, and at the last minute, the decision was made to continue the 172 in its original configuration. The planned 172J configuration would be introduced as a new model, the 177. The deluxe option would become the 177 Cardinal. The "J" designation was never publicly used.


The next model year was the 1969 "K" model. The 1969 172K had a redesigned vertical fin cap and reshaped rear windows. Optional long range 52 US gallon wing fuel tanks were offered. The rear windows were slightly enlarged by 16 square inches. The 1969 model sold for USD$12,500 for the 172 and USD$13,995 for the Skyhawk, with 1170 made.[2]

The 1970 model was still called the 172K but sported fiberglass, downward-shaped, conical wing tips. Fully articulated seats were offered as well. Production in 1970 was 759 units.[2]


The 172L, sold during 1971 and 1972, replaced the main landing gear, which were originally flat spring steel with tapered, tubular steel gear legs. The new gear had a width that was increased by Template:Convert wider.[2] The new tubular gear was lighter, but required aerodynamic fairings to maintain the same speed and climb performance as experienced with the flat steel design. The "L" also had a plastic fairing (between the dorsal fin and vertical fin) to introduce a greater family resemblance to the 182's vertical fin.

The 1971 model sold for USD$13,425 in the 172 version and USD$14,995 in the Skyhawk version. 827 172Ls were sold in 1971 and 984 in 1972.[2]

1977 Cessna 172M

The 172M of 1973-76 gained a drooped wing leading edge for improved low speed handling. This was marketed as the "camber-lift" wing.

The 1974 172M was also the first to introduce the optional 'II' package which offered higher standard equipment, including a second nav/comm radio, an ADF and transponder. The baggage compartment was increased in size and nose-mounted dual landing lights were available as an option.[2]

The 1975 model 172M sold for USD$16,055 for the 172, USD$17,890 for the Skyhawk and USD$20,335 for the Skyhawk II. Total production of "M" models was 7306 over the four years it was manufactured.[2]

In 1976, Cessna stopped marketing the aircraft as the 172 and began exclusively using the "Skyhawk" designation. This model year also saw a redesigned instrument panel to hold more avionics.[2]


The Skyhawk N, or Skyhawk/100 as Cessna termed it, was introduced for the 1977 model year. The "100" designation indicated that it was powered by a Lycoming O-320-H2AD, 160 hp (120 KW) engine designed to run on 100 octane fuel, whereas all previous engines used 80/87 fuel. Unfortunately, this engine proved troublesome and it was replaced by the similarly rated O-320-D2J to create the 1981 172P.

The 1977 "N" model 172 also introduced rudder trim as an option and standard "pre-selectable" flaps. The price was USD$22,300, with the Skyhawk/100 II selling for USD$29,950.[2]

The 1978 model brought a 28-volt electrical system to replace the previous 14-volt system. Air conditioning was an option.[2]

The 1979 model "N" increased the flap extension speed for the first 10 degrees to 115 knots. Optional fuel cells increased the optional fuel to 66 US gallons.[2]

The "N" remained in production until 1980 when the 172P or Skyhawk P was introduced.[2]


There was no "O" ("Oscar") model 172.[2]


The 172P, or Skyhawk P, was introduced in 1981 to solve the reliability problems of the "N" engine. The Lycoming O-320-D2J was a great improvement.

The "P" model also saw the maximum flap deflection decreased from 40 degrees to 30 to allow a gross weight increase from Template:Convert to Template:Convert. A wet wing was optional, with a capacity of 62 US gallons of fuel.[2]

The price of a new Skyhawk P was USD$33,950, with the Skyhawk P II costing USD$37,810 and the Nav/Pac equipped Skyhawk P II selling for USD$42,460.[2]

In 1982 the "P" saw the landing lights moved to the wing from the nose to increase bulb life. The 1983 model added some minor sound-proofing improvements and thicker windows.[2]

A second door latch pin was introduced in 1984.[3]

Production of the "P" ended in 1985 and no more 172s were built for eleven years as legal liability rulings in the USA had pushed Cessna's insurance costs too high, resulting in dramatically increasing prices for new aircraft.[citation needed]

There were only 195 172s built in 1984, a rate of fewer than 4 per week.[2]

172Q Cutlass

The 172Q was introduced in 1983 and given the name Cutlass to create an affiliation with the 172RG, although it was actually a 172P with a Lycoming O-360-A4N engine of Template:Convert. The aircraft had a gross weight of Template:Convert and an optimal cruise speed of 122 knots compared to the "P"s cruise speed of Template:Convert on 20 less horsepower. It had a useful load that was about Template:Convert more that the Skyhawk P and a rate of climb that was actually Template:Convert per minute lower, due to the higher gross weight. Production ended after only three years when all 172 production stopped.[2]


The Skyhawk R was introduced in 1996 and is powered by a derated Lycoming IO-360L2A producing a maximum of Template:Convert at just 2,400 rpm. This is the first Cessna 172 to have a factory fitted fuel-injected engine.

The 172R's maximum takeoff weight is 2,450 lbs (1,113kg). This model year introduced many improvements, including a new interior with soundproofing, an all new multi-level ventilation system, a standard four point intercom, contoured, energy absorbing, 26g front seats with vertical and reclining adjustments and inertia reel harnesses.

A Cessna 172S Skyhawk at ILA 2006

The Cessna 172S was introduced in 1998 and is powered by a Lycoming IO-360L2A producing Template:Convert. The maximum engine rpm was increased from 2,400 rpm to 2,700 rpm resulting in a Template:Convert increase over the "R" model. As a result, the maximum takeoff weight was increased to 2,550 lbs (1,157kg). This model is marketed under the name Skyhawk SP, although the Type Certiciation data sheet specifies it is a 172S.[5][6]

The 172S is built primarily for the private owner-operator and is offered with the Garmin G1000 avionics package as standard equipment and leather seats.[7]

As of 2007, both the R and S models are in production.[8]

Cessna 172RG Cutlass

Cessna introduced a retractable-gear version of the 172 in 1980 and named it the Cutlass 172RG.

The Cutlass featured a variable pitch, constant speed propeller and more powerful Lycoming O-360-F1A6 engine of Template:Convert. The 172RG sold for about USD$19,000 more than the standard 172 of the same year and produced an optimal cruise speed of 140 knots, compared to Template:Convert for the contemporary 160 horsepower 172.[2]

The 172RG did not find wide acceptance in the personal aircraft market, but was adopted by many flight schools as a complex aircraft trainer. Between 1980 and 1984 1177 RGs were built, with a small number following before production ceased in 1985.

While numbered and marketed as a 172, the 172RG is actually a variant of the Cessna 175 type.

Reims FR172J and Cessna R172K Hawk XP
1977 Cessna R172K Hawk XP

The Reims Rocket, designated FR172J and produced by Reims Aviation from the late 60s to the mid 70s, was powered by a Rolls-Royce built, fuel-injected, Continental IO-360D (210 hp) with a constant speed prop. This was essentially the same engine used in the twin-engined Cessna 336/337 series.

The Reims Rocket led to Cessna producing the R172K Hawk XP, a model available from 1977 to 1981 from both Wichita and Reims. This configuration featured a fuel injected, Continental IO-360K (later IO-360KB) derated to Template:Convert with a two bladed, constant speed propeller. The Hawk XP was capable of a Template:Convert cruise speed.

Owners claimed that the increased performance of the "XP" didn't compensate for its increased purchase price and the higher operating costs associated with the larger engine. The aircraft was well-accepted for use on floats, however, as the standard 172 is not a strong floatplane, even with only two people on board, while the XP's extra horsepower improves water take-off performance dramatically.[2]

While numbered and marketed as 172s, the R172J and R172K models are actually variants of the Cessna 175 type certificate.

Future models

Template:Future aircraft


On 4 October 2007 Cessna announced that they will build a diesel-powered Cessna 172 model starting in mid-2008. The engine will be a Thielert Centurion 2.0, liquid-cooled, two-litre displacement, dual overhead cam, four-cylinder, in-line, turbo-diesel with full authority digital engine control.[9] It will produce Template:Convert and will burn Jet-A fuel. The engines will be installed at the Cessna Skyhawk factory in Independence, Kansas under an STC. The new model will be called the 172 Skyhawk TD, the designation indicating "Turbo Diesel".[1]

Cessna has taken special measures to ensure that the Skyhawk TD is only fueled with Jet-A and not misfueled with avgas. These include placards, key-shaped tank fillers that only accept jet fuel nozzles and a spring-loaded door that must be activated with a jet-fuel nozzle. The aircraft will be certified for Jet-A only and will not be permitted to use automotive diesel.[10]

The TD is equipped with only one engine control, referred to as a "power control", although it looks identical to the push-pull style throttle used in previous 172 models. There is no carburetor heat or mixture control. The aircraft is equipped with a constant speed MT propeller, but this is controlled automatically and there is no propeller rpm control.[10]

The TD has the same gross weight as the "S" Skyhawk, Template:Convert, but at Template:Convert has 25 less horsepower than the "S" model. Because it is turbonormalized the engine produces full power at all altitudes and actually puts out more power than the "R" and "S" models above Template:Convert, where the normally aspirated powerplant's output drops off.[10]

To account for the fact that Jet-A has a higher density than avgas Cessna has reduced the tank capacity on the TD to 44.6 US gallons, which gives the aircraft a similar range to other models, due to the better efficiency of the diesel engine. The Thielert 2.0 is reported to burn 5.8 gal/hr at Template:Convert and 75% power. This compares to 8 gal/hr at the same power setting and altitude for the "R" model and 10 gal/hr for the "S" model Skyhawks.[10]

Even with the reduced fuel tank capacity the full fuel payload of the TD will be Template:Convert[10] compared to Template:Convert for the Cessna 172S[11] and Template:Convert for the 172R.[12]

Direct operating costs for the TD are forecast to be USD$96.39 per hour versus USD$101.81 for the higher powered "S" model. While the TD burns less fuel per hour its engine replacement costs at 2400 hours, instead of overhaul, almost make up for the difference, although these numbers will change as the price of fuel increases in future years.[10]

Certification is expected in the middle of 2008 and Cessna forecasts delivering about 125 TDs before the end of 2008.[10]

The TD will sell for about USD$15,000 more than the top of the line "SP" Skyhawk and $35,000 more than the "R".[10] Base price is advertised as USD$269,500 versus USD$254,500 for the "SP" or $234,500 for the "R".[13]

Early orders for the TD have been strong with most of the demand from flight schools and non-US operators.[10]

Military operators

A variant of the 172, the T-41 Mescalero is used as a trainer with the United States Air Force and Army. Because of its high-wing design, stability at low airspeeds, and relatively low stall speed, the 172 is an excellent platform for search and rescue operations, and is the primary platform for the Civil Air Patrol's operations. In addition, the United States Border Patrol uses a fleet of 172s for aerial surveillance along the Mexican-American border.

The Irish Air Corps uses the Reims version in the army co-operation and pilot training roles. The type is popular and successful in service despite some accidents. Air Corps examples are painted dark green and carry the service roundels. Most are not fitted with the distinctive wheel spats.


Notable flights


  • On December 4, 1958 Robert Timm and John Cook took off from McCarran Airfield, Las Vegas, NV in N9172B. Sixty four days, 22 hours, 19 minutes and 5 seconds later, they landed back at McCarran Airfield on February 4, 1959. The flight was part of a fund raising effort for the Damon Runyan Cancer Fund. Food and water were transferred by matching speeds with a chase car on a straight stretch of road in the desert, and hoisting the supplies aboard with a rope and bucket. Fuel was taken on by hoisting a hose from a fuel truck up to the airplane, filling an auxiliary belly tank installed for the flight, pumping that fuel into the airplane's regular tanks, and then filling the belly tank again. The drivers steered while a second person matched speeds with the airplane with his foot on the vehicle's accelerator pedal.
Engine oil was added by means of a tube from the cabin that was fitted to pass through the firewall. Only the pilot's seat was installed. The remaining space was used for a pad on which the relief pilot slept. The right cabin door was replaced with an easy-opening, accordion-type door to allow supplies and fuel to be hoisted aboard. Early in the flight, the engine driven electric generator failed. A Champion wind driven generator (turned by a small propeller) was hoisted aboard, taped to the wing support strut, plugged into the cigarette lighter socket, serving as the airplane's source of electricity for the rest of the flight. The pilots decided to end the marathon-flight because, with nearly 1500 hours continuous running during the record-setting flight plus several hundred hours already on the engine beforehand (considerably in excess of its normal overhaul interval), the engine's power output had deteriorated to the point that they were barely able to climb away after refueling. The aircraft is on display in the passenger terminal at McCarran International Airport. Photos and details of the record flight can be seen in a small museum on the upper level of the baggage claim area. [26]
  • On September 25th 1978, a Cessna 172 collided with Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182, a Boeing 727. The two aircraft crashed over San Diego, California. There were a total of 144 fatalities: 2 in the Cessna 172, 135 on the PSA Flight 182 and 7 on the ground.[27]
  • In 1987, a rented Reims Cessna F172P was used by a German teenage pilot Mathias Rust to fly (without permission) from Helsinki-Malmi Airport through Soviet airspace to a landing near the Red Square in Moscow, all without being intercepted by Soviet air defense.[28]
  • On January 5, 2002, high school student Charles J. Bishop stole a Cessna 172 and crashed it into the side of the Bank of America Tower in downtown Tampa, Florida, killing himself, but otherwise causing very little damage. See 2002 Tampa plane crash.
  • On October 28, 2007, engineer and experienced pilot Allen Williams (65) died in a crash in his Cessna 172 while flying between Golden, British Columbia and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The plane went down in adverse winter weather conditions and crashed in a creek in inaccessible mountainous terrain. Also killed in the crash was Steve Sutton, an employee of Mr. Williams' engineering company. Incredibly, Mr. Williams' three year old granddaughter Kate survived the crash and was subsequently rescued after hanging upside down in her child safety seat in the wreckage for several hours in freezing weather. Rescue technicians attribute Kate's survival to the care with which the pilot had secured her in the child seat and the plane's built-in restraints.[29]
  • On December 26, 2007, Michael Klein, his daughter and a pilot were killed in an accident near Boquete, Panama. The sole survivor was Francesca Lewis, a 12 year old American girl. Klein was the chief executive officer of Pacificor LLC. Aviation authorities said the cause of the crash was not yet known, but RPC radio reported that witnesses saw the plane flying at a very low altitude around noon Sunday amid buffeting winds.[30]

Specifications (172R)

Cessna 172R Panel of C-GLFC

Data from Quest for Performance[31]

General characteristics


See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Russ Niles (October 04, 2007). Cessna to Offer Diesel Skyhawk. Retrieved on 2007-10-05.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 Clarke, Bill: The Cessna 172 First Edition, pages 31-97. TAB Books, 1987. ISBN 0-8306-0912-1
  3. 3.0 3.1 Phillips, Edward H: Wings of Cessna, Model 120 to the Citation III, Flying Books, 1986. ISBN 0-911139-05-2
  4. Federal Aviation Administration (February 2007). Cessna 172 Type Certificate Data Sheet. Retrieved on 2007-12-13.
  5. Cessna Aircraft Company (December 2007). Skyhawk SP Specification and Description. Retrieved on 2008-03-09.
  6. Federal Aviation Administration (February 2008). TYPE CERTIFICATE DATA SHEET NO. 3A12. Retrieved on 2008-03-09.
  7. Cessna Aircraft Company (2008). Skyhawk SP Your Next Wing Tips. Retrieved on 2008-03-09.
  8. Cessna Aircraft Company (2008). Cessna Single Engine. Retrieved on 2008-03-09.
  9. Cessna Aircraft (October 04, 2007). Cessna Skyhawk TD Brochure. Retrieved on 2007-10-05.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 Goyer, Robert: Skyhawk With a Bang, Flying magazine April 2008, pages 64-68. Hachette Filipacchi US Media
  11. Cessna Aircraft (2008). Cessna Skyhawk SP Specification and Description. Retrieved on 2008-03-21.
  12. Cessna Aircraft (2008). Skyhawk: Specification and Description. Retrieved on 2008-03-21.
  13. Flying Staff: Parade of Pistons, Flying magazine April 2008, page 4. Hachette Filipacchi US Media
  14. Andrade 1982, Page 27
  15. Andrade 1982, Page 45
  16. Andrade 1982, Page 57
  17. Andrade 1982, Page 27
  18. Andrade 1982, Page 61
  19. Andrade 1982, Page 95
  20. Andrade 1982, Page 97
  21. Strategy Page (February 2008). Iraq Seeks Cessna Solution. Retrieved on 2008-02-19.
  22. Andrade 1982, Page 147
  23. Andrade 1982, Page 151
  24. Andrade 1982, Page 172
  25. Andrade 1982, Page 189
  26. Time and History 3:53 P.M. Longest Air Flight in History Begins
  27. Template:Citation.
  28. coptercrazy (undated). Listing of Production Reims F172. Retrieved on 2007-12-23.
  29. CBC News (October 30,, 2007). 3-year-old plane crash survivor discharged from hospital. Retrieved on 2007-11-08.
  30. Associated Press (December 26, 2007). American girl survives Panama crash that kills 3. Retrieved on 2007-12-26.
  31. Loftin, L. K., Jr.. Quest for performance: The evolution of modern aircraft. NASA SP-468. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.

External links

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