Aviator Insider

Cessna 172 Guide and Specs : Is It Worth It?

Table of Contents


With over 44,000 units built since 1956 and an ongoing production line, it is hard to do justice to the Cessna 172 Skyhawk. The most produced aircraft in the entire history of aviation owes its longevity to a tried and tested evolutionary design rooted in the Cessna classic configuration. Most general aviation pilots have sat behind the Skyhawk’s controls at some point in their careers, and the type is universally loved for its pleasant handling and brilliant simplicity that made it a timeless classic.

Plane Year / Make / Model Specs

Cessna has worked to improve the 172 models incrementally, despite its appearance changing relatively little from the 1956 debut. Here is an overview of three of the most prominent members of the Cessna 172 family: the 172F, 172N, and 172R.

The Cessna 172 is powered by a radial engine. Early models, including the Cessna 172F, were fitted with a six-cylinder Continental O-300-C or O-300-D with a displacement of 300 cubic inches and 145 horsepower, but in 1968 this was replaced by the Lycoming O-320 series. This was a four-cylinder engine with a displacement of 320 cu. in. Later models like the Cessna 172R came with another O-320 series engine, this time the IO-360-L2A with 360cu.in. of displacement and the same horsepower. This is the same engine fitted on the 172S model currently in production.

Fuel Capacity

For many years, owners had to contend with relatively small tanks, with long-range fliers requiring either factory-installed or aftermarket auxiliary tanks at an additional cost and loss of space.

A standard Cessna 172F can carry 39 gallons in its standard configuration plus an additional 18 if the auxiliary tanks are installed, for a total of 57. The Cessna 172N slightly expanded the baseline capacity at the expense of the auxiliary tank – it can carry 43 gallons by default, but only 54 with the new tank. Newer Cessna 172R models have done away with the auxiliary tank options, shipping instead with a 56-gallon capacity on all units. This has aided in standardizing the fleet, lowering maintenance costs, and providing all operators with the type’s maximum range.

c 172 cruise speed

Weight and Payload

The Cessna 172 has seen a steady decrease in useful loadout over the years due to increases in empty weight. 172F and 172N models have a take-off weight of 2,300 lbs. Compared to 2,450 lbs. on the 172R, however, when comparing empty weights, these are, respectively, 1,260 1,379 lbs. and 1,600 lbs. The Cessna 172R has a useful payload of 857 lbs. in its normal category, compared to the 921 lbs. of the 172N or the impressive 1,040 lbs. achieved by the 172F. However, as far as baggage capacity goes, all three models are limited by the luggage storage’s restrictions of up to 120 lbs.

Cessna 172 / Model Prices

The current price for a factory-fresh Skyhawk, in its Cessna 172S version, is between $369,000 and $438,000. This difference is due to options available to the pilot, as the avionics suite.

Cessna 172 / Performance and Handling


Despite being in production for over half a century, the Cessna 172 has not seen a revolution in terms of performance, but some changes have occurred because of structural redesigns or powerplant changes.

The “do not exceed” speed of 151 KCAS on the Cessna 172F has risen to 158 KCAS on the 172N and again to 160 KCAS on the 172R. The cruising speed of 122 KCAS was slightly boosted to 126 KCAS on all latter variants. Clean stall speeds are nearly identical across the three – 50 KCAS for both the Cessna 172F and 172N, but 51 KCAS on the 172R. This difference is more pronounced in landing configurations, where the 172F stalls at 43 knots, growing to 44 knots for the 172N and finally 47 knots on the 172R. A marginal increase, but enough to cause trouble to a pilot accustomed to older models.

The best climb rate of the Cessna 172F is 645 fpm. The new powerplant on the 172N increased it to a zippy 770 fpm, which was then decreased to 720 fpm with the 172R because of its heavier empty weight. The service ceiling for the Cessna 172F is 13,000 ft, compared with 14,200 ft on the 172N and 13,500 ft on the 172R.

The Cessna 172 was introduced and marketed as a trainer for the modern age, with its chief departure from previous Cessna designs being a tricycle gear configuration. This change made landings and ground handling much more comfortable experiences for both budding aviators and seasoned instructors, which motivated Cessna’s marketing department to dub it the “Land-O-Matic.” Steering on the ground is made possible via a steerable nosewheel.

Its high wing design incorporates the advantages inherent to this design choice, most of which make the Cessna 172 especially suited for the role of pilot training. The increased distance from the ground helps shorten the landing run as it is not as strongly affected by the ground effect. The Skyhawk is an inherently stable aircraft thanks to the high wing, as it places the center of mass below the center of lift.

In terms of pilot comfort, unlike low-wing aircraft, ground visibility is unobstructed. Upwards line of sight to the sides is slightly restricted, but this comes with increased sun protection from some angles. This visibility issue is not generally a problem outside the base to the final turn. The Skyhawk is also easier to chock and unchock as the pilot does not need to crouch to access the landing gear.

Plane Make / Model Maintenance Schedule

c 172 cruise speed

Its status as the most produced airplane is no coincidence. The Cessna 172 owes its popularity, among other factors, to a simplicity in design that brings affordable maintenance and high availability rates. Due to its ubiquitous status, it is also incredibly easy to find A&P mechanics who have the first-hand experience servicing the 172 series.

Maintenance has remained largely identical across the Skyhawk family range, with the main changes affecting seat comforts and avionics. The latter used to only affect communication and navigation gear, but Cessna’s latest 172S brought about a full shift to a glass cockpit with the Garmin 1000 suite.

Over the years, Cessna 172 operators have grown to use between $15 and $30 in maintenance per flight hour as an estimate, distributed between regular maintenance, inspections, and overhauls.

Cessna 172 / Modifications and Upgrades

The list of Skyhawk modifications available feels almost endless, and because of how long many have been about, supplemental type certificates have been issued to most of them.

A popular Cessna 172 upgrade is the powerplant. Engine and propeller combinations here are many, with trade-offs that fit different needs. Many early models received 180 hp engines that increased consumption by 25% but also severely improved high-altitude and short take-off performance, a non-negotiable gain for pilots operating in such environments.

The downside of engine upgrades is their very high cost, which is why most operators who need the extra performance prefer to purchase aircraft that have already had the conversion completed. Even in cases where they require significant work to be airworthy again, the costs usually fall under those of conducting an engine change first-hand today.

If the Skyhawk is a timeless classic, its seatbelts are hard as loved. The initial models have lap belts that are hardly as safe as you need them to be, while from the 1970s onwards, the shoulder harness installed is famously uncomfortable. The most common solution to these is inertial reel shoulder harnesses, which bring the Cessna 172 to modern safety standards without compromising on crew comfort.

The original cowling fasteners on the 172 are a hassle to actuate and cause vibration issues that cascade into lights failures, as described below. Parts manufacturer Skybolt offers a kit that replaces them with cam locks which are easier to operate, more secure, and reduce vibration issues.

Bush pilots or other operators who do not always enjoy the comforts of 9,000 ft concrete strips have access to larger tires which improve rough field performance, but these are relatively uncommon due to the required gear modifications and field approval paperwork associated.

One of the most common upgrades for the Cessna 172 family in recent years has been an avionics overhaul to replace the original panel partially or fully with digital instruments. The latest Cessna 172 in production, the 172S, already comes with a Garmin 1000 suite installed.

Cessna 172 / Where to Find Replacement Parts

c 172 cruise speed

The Cessna 172’s popularity makes it one of the most accessible planes to own in terms of parts availability. Shops all over the US and the world are stocked with almost everything an owner will need to maintain a Skyhawk airworthy. This also applies to many of the modifications outlined above, as they grow increasingly common in the global 172 fleet.

In the case of Continental-equipped Skyhawks, the supply of engines and spares has been a growing problem due to their age, which is why many have been re-engined over the years.

Cessna 172/ Model Common Problems

Two issues common to the entire Cessna 172 family are excessive nosewheel shimmy and cowl vibrations. The former can make ground handling uncomfortable, particularly for untrained pilots, and can be addressed with aftermarket dampers. Cowl vibrations are known to damage the landing lights, which have borne a series of modifications such as wing-mounted lights or LED ones.

Owners of early Cessna 172 models still equipped with Continental engines must contend with significantly pricier maintenance and overhaul costs.

Reasons for this lie largely in the cylinder configuration: as a six-cylinder engine, the Continental O-300 has two extra cylinders and associated drivetrains to work on and replace.

Technicians have also reported that the cylinders on the Continental models are more prone to leaks, particularly over the 1000-hour mark, and usually need replacement before their target useful life.

Lycoming’s O-320 was not without flaw – the H2AD series introduced in 1977 with the Cessna 172F offered a massive jump in performance, but it also brought along plenty of growing pains along.

The O-320-H2AD had problems with its camshaft and lifter, which on a good day affected performance; and on a bad one, led to metal chips finding their way into the aircraft’s oil system. This led to exponentially higher engine wear and caused several accidents due to engine failures.

Lycoming and the FAA worked in tandem and, through a series of modifications mandated by airworthiness directives, solved the issues on the H2AD model and turned it into a safe and reliable engine. Still, after the ‘shock’ experienced, Lycoming reverted most of the design choices found in the H2AD when making its successor.

Cessna 172 / Insurance Options

c 172 cruise speed

Due to its longevity, reliability, and popularity, the Cessna 172 is as close to an insurer’s favorite as you can get. AOPA’s operating cost calculator lists an insurance price of around $1,200 per year for standard coverage. This value was based on a 1975 Cessna 172M with a Lycoming O-320-E2D with several upgrades, fit for both VFR and IFR operations.

Depending on the coverage needed and specifics related to the model and operational demands, costs for a Cessna 172 can go as low as $250 per year but also reach $1400 on the high end.

Cessna 172/ Model Resale Value

A well-maintained Cessna 172 has great resale value. A high-hour flight school unit made in the 1980s and without avionics upgrades goes for as low as $58,000, but low-time or overhauled airframes can fetch up to $280,000. Most Cessna 172 listings orbit around the $80,000-$120,000 range.

Cessna 172 / Owner Reviews

Glen Chiappe of the Cessna Owner Organization describes it as a plane that “took good care of many of us when mishandled by our inexperience.” 172 owners adore the longevity of their Cessnas, and with good reason: half a century on, most Skyhawks in operation give their pilots the same performance they did right off the factory. It has been described as the “airplane of a lifetime” by Isabel Goyer of Flying magazine.

Instructors in particular highlight the aircraft’s stability and control responsiveness, and enjoy its great availability rates that allow CFIs to raise the next generation of pilots without having to splurge on more airframes than needed. The landing gear’s ruggedness allows students to improve their touchdowns without damaging the airplane in both short and long runs.

The low maintenance costs and fantastic parts availability reduces the logistics burden, making the Cessna 172 a great ‘turn the key and go’ option for owners who want a reliable and affordable plane that is ready to fly when they need it.

Cessna 172 / Similar Aircraft

Aircraft with similar performance, handling, and operating costs as the Cessna 172 exist both within and outside the Cessna portfolio. The Cessna 150, 152, 170, 175, and 177 have shared origins with the 172 and have many of its advantages, with the first two being particularly common in the general aviation market to this day.

Classic competitors to the Skyhawk include the Beechcraft Musketeer, the Piper Cherokee, the Grumman AA-5, and, for those who love an eastern flavor, the Yakovlev Yak-12. Recent noteworthy entries making a break in this segment include the Diamond DA40 and Vulcanair V1.0.

c 172 cruise speed

Cessna 172 / Clubs You can Join

Skyhawk owners enjoy some of the largest and most loved type clubs in the market. These include the Cessna 172 Club, the Cessna Flyer Association, and the Cessna Owner Association, on top of many smaller types of clubs, forums, and Facebook groups.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Question: when was the cessna 172 introduced.

Answer: The first Cessna 172 rolled out of the production line in 1956.

Question: Is the Cessna 172 still in production?

Answer: Yes, in the Cessna 172S version. Since 1956, 172 productions were only interrupted briefly, between 1986 and 1994.

Question: Which engine does the Cessna 172 use?

Answer: Early models used the Continental O-300, but most are equipped with the Lycoming O-320 or IO-360 series.

Question: How much does a new Cessna 172 cost today?

Answer: Factory-fresh models cost between $369,000 and $438,000.

Question: What is the Cessna 172 cruise speed?

Answer: Cruise speeds range between 122 and 126 knots, depending on the variant.

Question: What is the main difference between the Cessna 172 and the Cessna 170?

Answer: Initially, this was limited to the landing gear, with the 172 using a tricycle configuration as opposed to the taildragger 170.

Question: Is the Cessna 172 expensive to maintain?

Answer: If properly maintained, the Cessna 172 has a maintenance cost between $15 and $30 per hour, which is relatively low.

Question: Can you customize a Cessna 172?

Answer: Yes. The Skyhawk family has a high amount of certified modifications that are often easy to purchase and implement and solve some gripes operators have found over the years.






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Disciples of Flight

All About the Cessna 172 Skyhawk

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Piper J-3 Cub: The World’s Most Iconic Airplane

There’s a reason the cessna 172 skyhawk is general aviation’s most popular model..


Cessna Aircraft Company has delivered more than 43,000 Cessna 172 airplanes to date.  This makes it the best-selling, most widely flown airplane ever built. It also has a reputation for being the safest general aviation aircraft available.

Over the years, its been called many things. Affordable, both for the cost of the plane and cost of flying. Utilitarian, for decent short haul and payload capabilities. Versatile, for its ability to fulfill a variety of roles.  The perfect training and instructional plane, for it’s reliable flight characteristics.  And just plain fun to fly. In fact, Flying Magazine went so far as to say:

“ The Cessna 172 was arguably the most elegant compromise in the history of aviation. ”

So where did this golden child of general aviation come from?  And how did it become more successful than other aircraft in its class, such as the Beechcraft Musketeer or  Piper Cherokee ? And what does the future hold for the 172? As with many aircraft, the Cessna 172 has a long and interesting history. Over the past 58 years, the 172 has worked hard to win the trust and admiration of pilots. And along the way, it picked up the name ‘Skyhawk’. The Cessna 172 even played a key part in setting an unbelievable world record.

The Cessna 172 Arrives on the Scene

It’s 1955, late on a summer night.  Four of Cessna’s chief engineers are gathered around a set of airplane plans. They are excitedly discussing the new design they’ve just finalized. They’re assigning it the number 172, and calling it the ‘ Skyhawk ‘. The engineers congratulate each other on their brilliant, inspired design. The next day, the design is approved by the board. Production is to begin as soon as possible.

OK, so that didn’t actually happen. But it’s what you expect when talking about something as celebrated as the Cessna 172 . Obviously, this best-selling aircraft of all time was realized in a flash of insight and genius, right? Well, not really. The Cessna 172 started life as a variant to the Cessna 170, which was a taildragger .

In January 1955, Cessna started test flying an improved variant of the 170 1 , called the 170C. It was powered by a 145 hp Continental O-300-A engine. And it had larger elevators and a more angular tail-fin. Although the variant was certified with these changes, Cessna still felt like it wasn’t quite there.

So they modified it again, changing from a conventional landing gear to a tricycle landing gear configuration. With this new modification, Cessna decided it was different enough to have its own model number. And so the 170C became the 172. The 172 went through test flights and certifications in June 1955.

Cessna quickly started building 172s. They delivered the first production models in 1956, with a price tag of $8,995. It was popular almost immediately.  To keep up with demand, Cessna built 4,195 172 aircraft over the next five years. They built over 1400 in 1956 alone. The Cessna 172 debuted with the following specs:

Original Model Cessna 172 Specs

Maximum Speed: 131 MPH Cruise Speed: 125 MPH / 491 SM / 3.9 HRS Vne (Never Exceed Speed): 160 MPH

Rate of Climb at Sea Level: 660 FPM Service Ceiling:  15,100 Feet

Takeoff Performance

Ground Roll: 725 Feet Total Distance over 50-FT Obstacle: 1650 Feet

Landing Performance Ground Roll: 680 Feet Total Distance over 50-FT Obstacle: 1115 Feet

Stall Speed (KCAS) Flaps Up, Power Off: 58 MPH Flaps Down, Power Off: 52 MPH

Gross Weight:  2200 Pounds Standard Empty Weight: 1290 Pounds Useful Load: 910 Pounds Baggage Allowance: 120 Pounds Wing Loading: 12.6 Pounds/Sq.Ft. Power Loading:15.1 Pounds/HP

Fuel Capacity (Total): 39 Gallons Oil Capacity: 8 Quarts

Engine: Continental O-300 / 145hp Propeller: 76 Inch (diameter) / Fixed Pitch Electrical System: 14-volt with Generator Wingspan: 36 Feet

The Cessna 172 Helps Set a World Record for Flight Endurance

A mere two years after it was released, the Cessna 172 played a key role in helping to set a world record. Twice. The record was for manned, refueled flight endurance. Basically, how long can you stay in the air before you decide or are forced to land. Refueling is done while flying.  There can be multiple pilots, but they all must remain in the aircraft for the duration of the flight.

This record really took off starting in 1923.  Aerial refueling had become refined enough to allow aircraft to exceed the non-refueled endurance records. The first record, 1 day, 13 hours, and 15 minutes, was set in August of 1923, by two US Army Service pilots. After that, the record was broken and reset another 11 times. In 1949, a pair of US Navy pilots stayed in the air for an incredible 46 days and 20 hours. That record stood for 9 years until the Cessna 172 showed up on the scene.

In August of 1958, Jim Heth and Bill Burkhart took to the skies over Dallas, Texas.  They were flying their Cessna 172, dubbed ‘ The Old Scotchman ‘. They stayed in the air for 50 days, handily sailing by the previous record. However, their record-setting flight only held the title for a few months.

A new bid was being prepared further west, in the dusty Nevada deserts.  An enterprising Las Vegas businessman had just built the Hacienda, a family friendly casino.  And he needed a good idea to promote it.  One of his slot machine mechanics, who was also a pilot, gave him that idea.  Why not sponsor an attempt to break the flight endurance record?

So on December 4, 1958, Robert Timm and John Cook left the ground. They were flying a modified Cessna 172, dubbed ‘ The Hacienda ‘. After blowing past the fifty-day mark, they decided to stay in the air as long as they could. They wanted to make it as hard as possible for anybody else to take the record from them.

64 days, 22 hours and 19 minutes after they lifted off, Timm and Cook finally landed. Their extra efforts appear to have paid off, as their record still stands today. Timm and Cook’s flight of the Hacienda is a fascinating story, full of amazing details. But it is, as they say, a story for another time .

Cessna 172 Variants and the Skyhawk

Cessna 172

Over the years, Cessna has released at least 18 variants, or updated Cessna 172 models. These models have introduced many small adjustments and changes.  They started with the 172A model in 1960, adding a swept back tail fin and rudder and float fittings.

And though everyone knows the Cessna 172 as the ‘Skyhawk’ today, that name didn’t come into use until late 1960. Cessna was prepping the 1961 model, the 172B. They wanted to offer a ‘deluxe’ option. It would include full exterior paint instead of the standard partial paint stripes and enhanced avionics. The deluxe model was dubbed the Cessna 172 Skyhawk . And from that point on, Cessna 172 and Skyhawk basically became inseparable 2 .

1963 saw the release of the 172D. This model had a lower rear fuselage, one piece windshield, and a wraparound rear window Cessna dubbed ‘Omni-Vision’. Cessna also built its 50,000th aircraft in 1963, which just happened to be a 172. The 172F in 1965 introduced electric flaps, replacing the previous lever-operated system. In 1968, Cessna canceled its contract with Continental and turned instead to Lycoming Engines.

The 172I became the first 172 to sport the new Lycoming O-320-E2D 150 hp engine. And so production of 172s continued, with a new model every 2 – 3 years, until 1986. Cessna’s primary production model was now the 172Q, dubbed the ‘Cutlass’. But it was to be their last 172 model for over a decade.

Legal liability rulings in the US started pushing Cessna’s insurance costs too high.  So they shut down manufacturing of single engine aircraft in 1986. In 1994, hope appeared on the horizon in the form of the ‘ General Aviation Revitalization Act ‘. This legislation served to reduce the liability faced by aircraft manufacturers. There is some debate on how much overall effect it actually had on aircraft manufacturing. However, Cessna was able to resume production on three of their single-engine aircraft: the 172, 182 and 206 .

With bold promises from Cessna that they had built the best Skyhawk yet, the 172R was released in 1996. It had many interior improvements, such as better soundproofing, a multi-level ventilation system and a standard four point intercom. The 172R was also the first 172 to sport a factory fitted, fuel injected engine, the 160 hp Lycoming IO-360-L2A.

Two years later, Cessna released the 172S.  They changed out the engine for a 180 hp Lycoming IO-360-L2A. This model has stayed Cessna’s primary production model since 1998. Starting in 2007, the 172S began coming standard with the Garmin G1000 avionics package, and leather seats. With a $307,500 price tag, I suppose leather seats should come standard. As of 2009, the Cessna 172S Skyhawk is the only 172 model in active production. Here are the current 172S specs, according to the Cessna website :

Cessna 172S Specs

Dimensions Length: 27 ft 2 in (8.28 m) Height: 8 ft 11 in (2.72 m) Wingspan: 36 ft 1 in (11.00 m) Wing Area: 174 sq ft (16 sq m)

Wheelbase:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)

Cabin Interior

Height: 48 in (1.22 m) Width: 40 in (1.00 m) Length: 11 ft 10 in (3.61 m)

Maximum Passengers: 4

Baggage Capacity Weight: 120 lb (54 kg) Volume: 30 cu ft (0.85 cu m)

Weights Maximum Ramp Weight: 2,558 lb (1,160 kg) Maximum Takeoff Weight: 2,550 lb (1,157 kg) Maximum Landing Weight: 2,550 lb (1,157 kg)

Usable Fuel Capacity Weight: 318 lb (144 kg) Volume: 53 gal (201 l)

Basic Operating Weight: 1,641 lb (744 kg) Useful Load: 917 lb (416 kg) Maximum Payload: 909 lb (412 kg) Full Fuel Payload: 599 lb (272 kg)

Performance Maximum Cruise Speed: 124 ktas (142 mp/h, 230 km/h) Maximum Range: 640 nm (736 m, 1185 km)

Takeoff Takeoff Distance: 1,630 ft (497 m) Ground Roll: 960 ft (293 m)

Landing Landing Distance: 1,335 ft (407 m) Ground Roll: 575 ft (175 m)

Maximum Operating Altitude: 14,000 ft (4,267 m) Maximum Climb Rate: 730 fpm (223 mpm) Maximum Limit Speed: 163 kias (187 m/h, 302 km/h) Stall Speed: 48 kcas (55 m/h, 89 km/h)

Powerplant Manufacturer: Textron Lycoming Model: (1) IO-360-L2A Power Output: 180 hp

Propeller Manufacturer: McCauley Description: 2-blade metal, fixed pitch

A Cessna 172 Trainer for Military Use

In 1964, the US Air Force decided that they wanted to start using the standard Cessna 172F as a trainer aircraft for student pilots, rather than starting them off in the T-37 jet trainer. So the USAF purchased 207 172F aircraft from Cessna. These military 172s were designated the Cessna T-41A Mescalero. The first class of USAF students started their training with the T-41 on August 1965 in Big Springs, TX.

A couple of years later, Cessna provided the US Army with the T-42B. This was the first model designed specifically for the military. It replaced the 145 hp Continental O-300 engine and fixed-pitch propeller of the T-41A (or 172F) with a 210 hp (!) Continental IO-360 engine and constant speed propeller. 250 of these higher powered trainer aircraft were built.

In 1968, the USAF decided they needed the extra power, and ordered another 52 trainers. These trainers, designated the T-41C, had the same 210 hp engine as the T-41B. Finally, in 1996, the T-41 series produced one final model, the T-41D. It came with upgraded avionics and a constant speed propeller.

Many international air forces, including Austria, Greece, Singapore, and Chile, purchased various civilian models of the the Cessna 172. These were used in military training, transport, and liasion roles. The US Military also exported a number of T-41 variants to friendly nations under the Military Assistance Program. Today, most of these aircraft are not only in good condition but remain in active service with most militaries.

Cessna T-41C Mescalero Specs

General characteristics

Crew: one or two Length: 26 ft 11 in (8.21 m) Wingspan: 35 ft 10 in (10.92 m) Height: 8 ft 10 in (2.69 m) Wing area: 159 ft² (14.8 m²) Empty weight: 1,363 lb (618 kg) Loaded weight: 2,500 lb (1,134 kg) Powerplant: 1 × Continental IO-360-D, 210 hp (160 kW) Performance

Maximum speed: 125 knots (144 mph, 232 km/h) Range: 626 nm (720 mi, 1,159 km) Service ceiling: 17,000 ft (5,180 m) Rate of climb: 880 ft/min (4.47 m/s)

A Mechanic’s Perspective on the Cessna 172

Founder of Disciples of Flight

With over 43,000 Cessna 172s produced, not many A&P mechanics who work in general aviation have not had their hands on one. This aircraft has certainly stood the test of time. And it has been the source of enjoyment and satisfaction for hundreds of thousands of folks over the years. The Cessna 172  has taught a lot to people to fly, and probably more people to fly instruments than any other aircraft.

I have worked on hundreds of them over the years. Some were owned by private pilots who use them for fun and enjoyment. My friend Steve flies a vintage 1956 model.  He loves the simple and pure freedoms of flight when he’s not busy flying big jets for an airline. Others were old work horses serving as trainers at busy flight schools.  They’re being used constantly by those learning to fly or improve their skills in instrument training. And still others flew endless hours, following busy metropolitan freeways with a radio reporter.  These traffic planes would offer advice to motorists looking for shortcuts.

Some of these Cessna 172s have had as few as 1,500 hours on the airframe.  Others had upwards of 25,000 hours. I often wonder if the engineers at Cessna ever imagined that these airplanes would still be bouncing through the skies after so many hours and years.

Those who research the purchase of their first aircraft often give consideration to a Cessna 172.  This is because of its simplicity, moderate entry fee, affordable insurance and lower maintenance costs.

These aircraft really can be quite affordable to own.  You just need to be careful about making the right choice during your purchase. Find an aircraft that has been flying regularly, and has had good routine maintenance.  This will help keep your costs more predictable.  At least at first.

There are a few fixed cost items that go along with aircraft ownership, like insurance, hangar fees and annual inspection costs. My purpose, however, is to talk more about the maintenance and repair aspect of the Cessna 172. Cessna did an amazing job creating an aircraft that is relatively easy to work on, trouble free and reliable.  But, just like any other aircraft, they do require good care and keeping. Regular, routine maintenance by qualified mechanics will keep these machines in good working order.

The differences in the older vs. newer model aircraft are minimal in terms of airframe construction.  Airframe maintenance practices are very similar between all the models.  Mainly, the newer ones have more creature comforts and sophistication, with improved radios and instrumentation.

As we begin to consider cost to maintain these aircraft, the bigger differences will be mostly found in the engines. The Continental engines found in the early model Cessna 172 will generally cost slightly more to maintain and overhaul .  These are 6 cylinder engines and have more potential for wear in the valve train.  One reason these engines are a little more expensive to overhaul is due to the fact they have two additional cylinders to install.  They are also more likely to leak oil and less likely to have cylinders last through the entire life of the engine.  Continental engines generally have more cylinder problems as the engines accumulate more hours, especially over the 1000 hour mark. At $1200- $1600 per change, most people’s wallets are strained.  The engines are also older with less available spares.  Over time, these parts will likely be harder and harder to find. And with only 145 horsepower, these earlier aircraft may seem a little anemic in the summer or at higher altitude airports. Care should be exercised when flying in these conditions.  That being said, they are good running engines overall and have proven the test of time.

When Cessna introduced the Lycoming power plants into the 172 series, it increased the horsepower.  But it also made the Cessna 172 more efficient and cost effective.  The O-320-E2D was solid, and many aircraft were sold with this engine. Most would agree that the Lycoming O-320 series are overall better engines than the O-300 made by Continental. And the installation of them was a definite improvement on this already successful aircraft.

While some people might debate whether or not that statement is true, no one would debate this next one. Beginning in 1977, the installation of the O-320-H2AD engines in the Cessna 172 was nothing short of a disaster. These engines, although 10 horsepower higher than their predecessor, were a new and different design.  And they were problematic from the beginning. These engines suffered serious camshaft and lifter problems.  This caused not only poor performance, but many times sent metal particles through the oil system.  This resulted in excessive wear and engine failures. Without going into detail about all reasons why, I will just say the FAA issued several airworthiness directives to address the problem. Lycoming also came up with some recommended modifications, and solutions to the problems were soon found.

Today, in my opinion, these engines are nearly as good and reliable as any of the other Lycoming engines. The main reason I say they are “nearly” as good is because they have one other unfavorable condition.  This is something they share with a few other Lycoming engines. They have what is often called a “dual mag”. This two-in-one ignition system has the components of two magnetos housed in one unit, driven by a common gear. It works well as long as everything is set up properly and precisely. And that is just the problem. They are complex, intricate and require a knowledgeable and skilled technician to set them up properly.  The engine itself has only one location for a magneto to be installed, and therefore can only ever be operated with one of these dual magnetos. If the timing slips on either magneto on these dual units, the entire assembly must be removed from the engine.  Then, they must be re-timed on a bench, by adjusting the points inside the magneto. It is a difficult and sensitive job, and one which many mechanics are unfamiliar with. That being said, when properly maintained and set, these dual mags seem to do well.

Once again, I will argue that these are good engines, with some peculiarities that will need patience and determination. If you can deal with this, you may find a good deal in purchasing an aircraft with one of these engines. However, I highly encourage making certain the modifications recommended by Lycoming have already been completed on the engine.

Later, in 1981, the Cessna 172 came standard with a different model Lycoming engine.  The new engine had the same 160 horsepower. But these engines returned to the traditional design of mainstream Lycomings, and have been very reliable powerplants for the aircraft.

Later model aircraft had 180 horsepower engines installed, and again have had very good luck with them. Maintenance issues surrounding the Cessna 172 are largely no different than other fixed gear single engine aircraft. Except that they seem to have less problems if they are kept up. But like other Cessna singles, they do have some pesky nuisance problems that plague owners. For example, excessive nose wheel shimmy, and cowl vibrations that take out landing lights. Thankfully, there are factory and aftermarket modifications available to help.  You can get improved shimmy dampers and alterations for wing mounted landing lights, as well as LED light options.

I think the Cessna 172 was a masterpiece design from the beginning. And a new pilot can’t go wrong choosing one of these models to learn to fly, or build his flight time in.

Modifications and the Cessna 172

The list of modifications on 172s is long and varied. And, like any other aircraft, searchers can find upgrades in the form of supplemental type certificates (STC) for most anything out there.  Since the Cessna 172 is such a prevalent aircraft, approvals have been already completed for most any STC.

Engine upgrade STCs are a favorite modification to 172s. Many earlier model aircraft have had 180 horsepower engines installed. Some with fixed pitch propellers, others with constant speed props. This increases the fuel consumption from around 8 gallons per hour to about 10.  But, it also wakes the airplane up on take off and helps make it more capable of carrying additional weight at higher altitude airports. If you are considering the purchase of a 172 and operate at higher density altitudes, or want to operate in moderate back country environments , you should look into this option.  If you are shopping, it is usually more affordable to find one already converted.  This is still the case even if you have to do some fix up on it. Check Airplanes.com  and Penn Yan Aero  for more information.

Inertial reel shoulder harnesses are a great upgrade. The original lap belts on early aircraft are inadequate. And the factory shoulder harness on the 70s and 80s vintage aircraft are uncomfortable and the shoulder belt comes unlatched easily. BAS makes a very nice, comfortable and safe inertial harness .

Another upgrade to consider is the replacement of the wing root air vents. The factory vents leak and are hard to control the amount of air coming in. Two options that come to mind. One, an inexpensive plastic vent offered by Plane Plastics called “ ventubes ”, and the other, more expensive but much nicer quality by Precise Flow .

Skybolt makes a modification for cowling fasteners that is quite good.  It replaces the troublesome small fasteners on the cowling with larger “camlocks”.  These are much easier to deal with and are more secure.

Powerflow makes modified tuned exhaust systems  that are advertised to improve efficiency and performance. I have not had personal experience with these, but have received reports from customers that they are very effective.

If you want to operate on unimproved landing strips  in the backcountry , you may look into installing larger tires on your Cessna 172. 600 X 6 on the nose and perhaps 700 X 6 on the mains. This will require the installation of a heavy duty nose fork and a larger 6 inch wheel and axle assembly. Parts can be a little hard to find, but salvage yards occasionally get them and may be able to help you. A field approval will have to be obtained for this modification, and you should approach your mechanic for help in moving in this direction.

There is a list as long as your arm of things you can do to your Cessna 172. Strobes, LEDs, autopilots, fancy navigation and communication radios, speed fairings, flap gap seals, STOL kits, CO2 monitors, GPS and on and on. Pick the ones that seem appropriate for the mission your aircraft performs. However, here’s one thing to remember about modifying your Cessna 172. These aircraft do well unaltered, and you can spend immeasurable amounts of money purchasing and installing these modifications. Sometimes, you need to save some money for fuel.

The Future of the Cessna 172

So, what does the future hold for the 172? Diesel and electric. Well, maybe. On October 4 2007, Cessna announced that it was planning on building a diesel powered Skyhawk. It would be called the Cessna 172 Skyhawk TD (Turbo Diesel).

Engine manufacturer Thielert was going to provide the engine: the Thielert Centurion 2.0.   However, in July 2013, Cessna canceled the model. Thielert had gone bankrupt and was sold to Continental Motors.

A year later, in July 2014, Cessna announced they were preparing to bring a new diesel model to market in 2015, the Turbo Skyhawk JT-A. It will be powered by a 155 hp Continental CD-155 diesel engine that runs on jet-A fuel.  With a top speed of 131 knots, it will be slightly faster than the Cessna 172S.  It will also burn 3 gallons per hour less fuel than the standard 172. The initial price has been set at $435,000.

In July 2010, Cessna announced that they were developing an electrically powered 172 with Bye Energy (who later changed their name to Beyond Aviation.) In July 2011, Beyond Aviation started taxi tests. The following year, in March, they had several successful test flight with a prototype that used Panacis batteries. But after that, nothing. The project hit some kind of road block. On the Beyond Aviation website, they offer only this cryptic message:

“ This is an archive of the goals of the Beyond Aviation project. Because of issues, the project had to shut down. We hope to see the restoration of this program and the creation of the first fully electric plane. ”

I can only hope the project is restored. I would love to see them complete a fully electric 172.

To me, it appears that the Cessna 172 Skyhawk has enjoyed such longevity and success because it is a solid choice for a variety of tasks. It may not be as sexy as some airplanes, or as powerful as others, but it generally gets the job done. Hopefully, the Cessna 172 Skyhawk continues to be built and enjoyed for a long time to come.

For those interested, Amazon offers some great options for 172 models .


1 – The 170 was itself a four-seat variant of the Cessna 140.

2 – Technically, you could argue that the 172 and the Skyhawk refer to different aircraft. The Cessna 172 is the base model and Skyhawk in the deluxe model.  But for most people, Cessna 172 and Skyhawk are one and the same.

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c 172 cruise speed

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Simple Flying

Best selling aircraft: what is the cessna 172's range.

The most successful aircraft in private and general aviation history.

  • The Cessna 172 Skyhawk has a 660 NM operational range with one passenger and a pilot, ideal for long-distance flights.
  • It serves as a reliable and versatile aircraft globally, suitable for private transport and flight training.
  • The type holds a remarkable safety record, with a lower fatality rate than industry standards.

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a single-engine high-wing aircraft designed and developed by Cessna, a Textron Aviation company. Capable of carrying four people, including the pilot, the aircraft performed its first flight in 1955 and provided private aviation service a year later. With over 44,000 units built, it remains the most successful private aircraft in history.

Cessna's Skyhawk became a success within months of entering service. In its first full year of production, Cessna produced and delivered over 1,400 examples of the type. More than 70 years after the first unit was rolled out, Textron Aviation continues to make the 172s.

Cessna 172 operational range

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk has an operational range of 660 NM with one passenger and a pilot. A two-person flight can travel nonstop between Denver and Indianapolis or Houston and Minneapolis. For a four-person (at capacity), the flying range is reduced to 440 NM.

The Cessna 172 has a Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) of 2,450 lbs (1,110 kg). The four-cylinder Lycoming IO-360 horizontal opposed engine enables a cruise speed of 125 knots (140 mph, 225 km/h). The engine generates 160 horsepower (120 kW). The spacious cabin makes for a comfortable flight.

The Most Produced Aircraft: What Is The Cessna 172's Cruise Speed?

Small piston-engine aircraft are prone to have a tight cabin and do not generally offer a comfortable ride. This is certainly not the case with Cessna 172. Its spacious cabin ensures plenty of room even when flying at capacity.

A private pilot’s dream

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is one of the few popular aircraft used by flight schools for pilot training. Whether acquiring a Private Pilot's License or a Commercial Pilot's License, most students around the globe train on the Cessna 172. The aircraft's reliability, ease of use, and versatility enable student pilots to safely carry out the required maneuvers for the pilot training curriculum.

Trainee pilots also benefit from the safety aspects of the 172s, including simplistic flight instruments, advanced displays, and overall aircraft handling. According to Textron Aviation,

“Nothing is more liberating than learning to fly. The CESSNA SKYHAWK piston is the most popular single-engine aircraft ever built and has achieved a reputation for being the ultimate training aircraft. With simplistic flight characteristics, great visibility and a sophisticated glass cockpit outfitted with GARMIN G1000 avionics, the Cessna Skyhawk piston boasts a slow landing speed and a lenient stall.”

The Cessna 172 is a versatile aircraft with various applications, including private transport, flight training, utility purposes, and special operations. Its tricycle landing gear and high-wing design provide the ultimate stability and control during flight. A high wing also means better side views for pilots, particularly those who are training to become licensed pilots.

A Look At Why The Cessna 172 Is The Best Selling Aircraft In The World

An impressive safety record.

Worldwide, large and small flight academies choose Cessna 172s (and 152s) for pilot training. One of the most renowned flight schools in the US, Epic Flight Academy, states,

“The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is the top- rated single-engine flight training aircraft in the world. These four-seat, fixed-wing planes comprise the majority of Epic’s training fleet. We purchase new aircraft directly from Cessna, so our students enjoy state- of-the art avionics and equipment. More Cessna 172s have been manufactured than any airplane in history! When you train at Epic Flight Academy in a new Cessna 172, you’ll see why it’s the preferred training aircraft worldwide.”

Even with its use with trainee pilots, the aircraft has a remarkable safety record. BAA Training suggests that the Cessna 172 has less than half the recorded fatality rate compared to the industry standard. There is no doubt that it is one of the safest planes to get trained on.

A world record holder

The Cessna 172 sports several world records, including the longest refueled flight endurance. In December 1958, two pilots set out to achieve the record for the longest flight lasting over two months. Pilots Robert Timm and John Cook flew a distance equivalent to traveling six times around the world at the equator (150,000 miles, 240,000 km). The aircraft was frequently refueled in flight by moving a truck closer to the ground.

5 Reasons The Cessna 172 Is A Favorite With Flight Training Schools

What are your thoughts on the historical significance and capabilities of the Cessna 172 aircraft? What is your most memorable encounter with the type? Share your experience in the comments section.


c 172 cruise speed

The Most Produced Aircraft: What Is The Cessna 172's Cruise Speed?

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is famous for being the most-produced aircraft of all time, with over 45,000 airframes built since the first rolled off the production line in 1956. This legendary general aviation light aircraft will go down in history as one of the most reliable, efficient, and versatile planes ever built, capable of performing all kinds of roles.

Interestingly, despite major advancements in technology and design since the 172 was released, the plane's cruise speed hasn't changed too much over the decades. Instead, upgrades to the aircraft have tended to boost its reliability, avionics, and safety. Nonetheless, modern Cessna 172 models are still almost 20% faster than the original, so some improvements have been made in this department.

Cessna 172 cruise speed

The current in-production model of the 172 series is the Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, offering modern upgrades like a glass cockpit, Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite and a 180-horsepower Lycoming IO-360-L2A engine. Compared to the previous model, the 172R, the 172S features an additional 20HP, and the Garmin G1000 suite comes as standard, among other tweaks.

As per Textron Aviation, the aircraft's maximum cruise speed is 124 knots (142 mph or 230 km/h), with a maximum range of 640 NM (1,185 km) and a climb rate of up to 730 fpm. However, this range can change depending on engine power, altitude, and weight of aircraft.

Discover more aviation news with Simple Flying.

Modest speed increases

As mentioned earlier, the Skyhawk's cruise speed has risen modestly over the decades, but improvements haven't been dramatic given the limitations of a single-engine piston aircraft. The first Cessna 172 model was fitted with a 145HP Continental O-300 engine before an upgrade to the Lycoming O-320 around a decade later.

According to 172guide , the first Cessna 172 had a cruise speed of 108 knots (132 mph or 212 km/h), which was gradually increased in future iterations:

  • 172C (1962): Continental O-300-C - 114 knots at 7,000 ft altitude
  • 172I (1968): Lycoming O-320-E2D - 114 knots at 9,000 ft altitude
  • 172N (1979): Lycoming O-320-H2AD - 122 knots at 8,000 ft altitude

Let's compare some of the specs of the first Cessna 172 with the in-production 172S:

A Look At Why The Cessna 172 Is The Best Selling Aircraft In The World

Against the competition.

The 172 is well ahead of other trainers in terms of aircraft built and sold. However, when looking at its specs compared to those of its rivals, it doesn't outshine them in all departments. In fact, if we look at cruise speed alone (at 75% engine power), it is sometimes slightly slower than most of its counterparts.

Piper PA-28 Cherokee

Take the Piper PA-28 Cherokee, for example, which is generally considered the main rival to the Cessna 172 series. Entering service in the early 1960s, the PA-28 initially offered a higher cruise speed of over 120 knots, although the current in-production Piper's have a similar cruise speed to the Cessna 172S.

Diamond DA40

The Diamond DA40 is, without a doubt, a faster aircraft than the 172, with an initial cruise speed of 145 knots when it came out in 1997. The most up-to-date variant - the DA40 NG - is powered by a 168 hp Austro Engine AE300, which offers a cruise speed of 154 knots, as well as a higher service ceiling of 16,000ft.

Beechcraft Musketeer

The Beechcraft Musketeer is another popular trainer aircraft and one of the few that is slower than the 172. Take the Beechcraft Musketeer Sport II, for example, which has a cruise speed of 108 knots, well below the 172S' 124 knots, or the Musketeer Custom II, which offers a cruise speed of 102 knots.

Comparing the 172 and 182

Simple Flying recently took a deep dive into the differences between the 172 Skyhawk and the larger Cessna 182 Skylane , another popular trainer and general aviation aircraft. The Skylane is Cessna's second most popular aircraft still in production behind the 172 and a feasible alternative for flight schools and private owners.

The 182 features a more powerful Lycoming IO-540-AB1A5 engine, giving it a cruise speed of 145 knots - on top of this, its extra fuel capacity gives it almost 50% more range than the 172 at 930 NM.

A training favorite

The Cessna 172's ease of operation makes it a clear favorite for student pilots, and you can find a Cessna 172 at just about every flight school in the world. Cessna estimates an average of 75 flight hours to earn a private license.

5 Reasons The Cessna 172 Is A Favorite With Flight Training Schools

The plane also boasts exceptional reliability and an immaculate safety record, with a fatality rate of 0.56 fatal crashes per 100,000 flying hours, which is less than half the industry standard of 1.2-1.4 per 100,000.

Have you ever flown a Cessna 172? Let us know your stories in the comments.

The Most Produced Aircraft: What Is The Cessna 172's Cruise Speed?

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Discover why the Cessna 172 Skyhawk is one of the most popular trainers in the world.

Nearly every  flight school  around the world has at least a few Cessna 172’s in use. Many of the features listed below are the reason. The 172 is aerodynamically stable and easy to handle for new pilots. The high-wing design gives the student a bit of added visibility.

Overall, the Cessna 172 is an incredibly popular aircraft for good reason.

Cessna 172 Specs

Cessna 172 g1000 aircraft.

The most common aircraft in the world, the C-172, has been a staple in aircraft training since its inception in the mid 1950s – but our fleet isn’t that old. Our air-conditioned Garmin G1000 equipped 172s are all 2018 models or newer, including 2 new 2020 models.

Quantity in our fleet:  5

Year models:  2018-2020

Avionics:  G1000

Aircraft Features – G1000

  • Garmin G1000 Avionics Suite
  • GFC700 Dual Axis Autopilot
  • Air Conditioning
  • Leather Interior
  • ADS/B In and Out
  • In-Cockpit Traffic and Weather

Aircraft Information

27 ft 2 in (8.28 m)

8 ft 11 in (2.72 m)

36 ft 1 in (11.00 m)

Wing Surface Area

174 sq ft (16.17 sq m)

Cabin Width

3.3 ft (1.01 m)

Empty Weight

1,640 lb (744 kg)

Useful Load

918 lb (416 kg)

Maximum Takeoff Weight

2,550 lb (1,157 kg)

Textron Lycoming IO-360-L2A

Power Output

180 hp at 2,750 RPM

Maximum Occupants

McCauley 2-blade metal, fixed pitch

Cessna 172 Performance Specs

Max Cruise Speed

124 KTAS (230 km/h)

Maximum Speed

163 KIAS (302 km/h)

Stall Speed

48 KCAS (89 km/h)

730 ft/min (223 m/min)

Takeoff Distance

1,630 ft (497 m)

Landing Distance

1,335 ft (407 m)

640 nm (1,185 km)

Service Ceiling

14,000 ft (4,267 m)

Aircraft Documentation

Cessna 172S (G-1000) POH

Cessna QREF Checklist

Instrument Checklist

Cessna Emergency Checklist

Cessna 172 Maneuvers Guide

Cessna 172 Diagram

C172R & 172S Weight and Balance

172S Pre-Solo Written Exam

Cessna 172 Air Conditioning Supplement

Cessna Pre-Flight Video

How to Take Off and Land a Cessna 172

Cessna 172 Preflight

Watch the video below for a detailed look at the preflight process. And then take a look at our article on the Cessna 172 preflight checklist for tips on how to do an effective preflight.

Cessna 172 Cockpit

Where the cockpit is concerned, modern Cessna 172’s feature an integrated set of cockpit avionics, known as the Garmin G1000 NXi which included an all-new and improved graphical interface, high-resolution displays, powerful hardware, wireless technology, and increased functionality for situational awareness.

This information is displayed on two screens in the cockpit, together with altitude, airspeed, and geographical position.

Some 172’s also include a digital autopilot feature. This digital autopilot feature was capable of sustaining a steady rate of descent and ascent, consistent speed, and altitude ranges in a completely automatic way.

A pilot had the capability of recovering from unwanted altitudes with just a push of a button on the autopilot.

Cessna 172 Models

The earliest model of the 172 which debuted in 1956 saw a variety of changes and upgrades, including the creation of special variants such as the 172 Hawk XP seaplane and a proof-of-concept electric-powered Cessna 172.

In 1986, the 172 ceased production, after almost 20 years due to liability concerns. Cessna, a company established in 1911 was acquired by Textron in 1992. Production of the 172 model resumed in 1996 after the General Aviation Revitalization  Act of 1994  was passed.

Engineering efforts were channeled towards the building of the 160 horsepower 172R Skyhawk. This model was the first 172 which was fitted with a fuel-injection engine and had a redesigned interior and ventilation system.

The 180 horsepower Skyhawk subsequently followed production in 1998, aptly named the 172S Skyhawk SP.

Due to its multi-purpose capacity and robustness, the Cessna 172 remains popular. While there are other faster and more agile planes from competitors like Beechcraft and Piper, the Cessna is relatively easier and less expensive to maintain.

Due to its popularity, parts are readily available and nearly every aviation mechanic has worked on a 172.

Record Setting Flight in a 172

Robert Timm and John Cook’s names are synonymous with the C-172. It’s hard to talk about this plane without mentioning the world record for flight endurance undertaken by these two pilots from December 4, 1958, to February 7, 1959.

With a registered Cessna 172, Timm & Cook took off from the McCarran Airfield in Las Vegas, Nevada, and flew the 172 for a total of 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes, and 5 seconds. This world record was done to raise funds for the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund.

History of the Cessna 172

With the Cessna 172, you get almost everything you want in a plane. Whether you want an afternoon joyride, short-haul trip with friends, or you’re trying to build time, the 172 is exactly what you need.

Undeniably the most popular aircraft, the C-172 is the most produced aircraft in the world with well over 44,000 units produced.

It was 1956 when the world first met this beautiful aviation marvel. With a foundation crafted from the 170, the Cessna 172 was designed with unique features such as an angular tailfin, lowered rear deck (which made it possible to add a rear window) the tricycle landing gear and larger elevators.

These modifications increased the plane’s popularity, with at least 1,400 airplanes produced within one year of its debut. Today, there have been more than 44,000 units produced, cementing the Cessna 172 in aviation history.

Want to see more of our fleet? Check out our brand new Piper Archer TX , Piper Seminole , and Sportcruiser aircraft.

Ready to achieve your aviation goals? Give us a call or fill out our contact form and we’ll help you determine which program is right for you.

c 172 cruise speed

What Is The Top Speed Of A Cessna 172

Joe Haygood

August 30, 2022

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a popular fixed-wing aircraft with decades of flight experience and impressive top speed for its compact size and design.

Preparing for a Cessna 172 flight requires proper planning and an understanding of the aircraft. Before takeoff, you should know critical factors like total range, top speed, and the plane's capacity.

The top speed of a Cessna 172 is 187.6 miles per hour, ranking as a mid-tier speed option compared to other Cessna planes. This improved version of the Cessna 170 also provides a cruising speed of 141 MPH. With over 44,000 created, it is the most popular aircraft ever made.

The Cessna 172 is a single-engine, two-seat, high-wing airplane designed for the general aviation market, ranking as one of the most popular planes ever. It provides impressive features, including a respectable top speed and cruising speed. This guide will explain what the top speed of this plane is, along with other key features.

All data and research has been compiled through technical data sheets directly from Cessna to provide the most accurate information for readers. Keep reading to become an expert on the Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

Table of contents

‍ what is the top speed of a cessna 172.

The top speed of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk is 187.6 miles per hour. This ranks in the middle of the pack when comparing the 172 to other Cessna airplanes.

The Cessna 172 is one of the most popular planes for private pilots. It is a lightweight, single-engine aircraft that an average person can fly.

However, it isn't the fastest plane on the market. It also uses an older design, with the first flight dating back to 1955, but it is affordable and highly reliable for long-term use.

But it is worth noting, the Cessna 172 is arguably the most popular plane ever created by this famous plane manufacturer. It may not blow you away with speed, but other features and the overall simplicity of the design make it a top performer.

If you are curious how the Cessna 172 matches up in terms of speed with other models, here is a chart for reference.

As you can see, the 172 Skyhawk is in the middle tier among the Cessna planes but is among the fastest of all single-engine models.

Cessna 172 Specifications And Features

The critical thing to remember about planes like the Cessna 172 is how much they change over time. For example, the original 172 from 1956 differs from the 172S built in 1998.

The evolution of these popular planes makes it easier to get more speed, horsepower, safety, and performance over time. Here are some of the top features you can expect.

Impressive Safety

With over 43,000 models produced, Cessna did something right. And this is one example of why this is considered the safest general aviation aircraft on the market.

The cabin interior is spacious, with a height of 48 inches, a width of 40 inches, and a total length of 11 feet 10 inches with four seats.

Newer models include an interior multi-level ventilation system with adjustable seats to improve comfort and flying safety.

Integrated Cockpit Avionics

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a popular aircraft for recreational flying and private pilots. The aircraft includes integrated cockpit avionics for advanced flight capabilities.

One example is the Garmin G1000 NXi which integrates with a high-quality graphical interface and multiple high-res displays.

Other key avionics inside this plane include enhanced HSI, integrated VFR sectional charts, and a refined joystick that pans much smoother than earlier models.

Excellent Flight Endurance

If you have doubts about the Cessna 172 and how well it flies, it is worth noting that this plane has set the world record twice for the longest refueled flight endurance.

The Cessna 172 also set a new record for the longest non-refueled flight distance. This shows how well this plane is designed and the type of flight range it can provide while maintaining above-average speeds.

How Does The Cessna 172 Compare To Other Planes?

The Cessna 172 is one of the most popular planes in the world. It is a single-engine plane that can reach impressive speeds up to 188 MPH.

But maybe you have decided this isn't the right model for you. There are other planes worth considering, and we will compare them to the 172 Skyhawk below.

The Cessna 162 is a side-by-side two-seater plane with a high-wing, strut-braced design. It is a tricycle gear LSA with production between 2009 and 2013, with 275 total planes manufactured.

It can reach top speeds of 135 miles per hour and a maximum flying range of 540 miles on one full tank of fuel. It is a much lighter plane, too, with a compact construction and a weight of 1,320 pounds.

As of 2022, 175 Cessna 162 Skycatcher models remained in use.

The Cessna 182 has a much closer design to the 172, using a four-seat, single-engine construction with a lightweight build. There is also added cargo space for two additional small seats.

This is also a much older plane, with the first production occurring in 1956 and still running today. You can expect top speeds between 168-170 miles per hour and a cruising speed of 165-167 miles per hour.

The interesting thing about this plane is that it can reach 200 MPH, but it is not recommended, and the ride could become extremely unstable. You can expect excellent performance and reliability from the Cessna 182 Skylane.

The Cessna 208 Caravan has a maximum top speed of 208 miles per hour and provides many practical features that make it a preferred aircraft choice.

The design includes eight passenger seats, two pilot seats, and increased cargo space. The aluminum frame is lightweight yet durable, making it easier to reach faster speeds.

You can expect a refined and luxurious experience inside the plane too. Between the leather seats and added space, guests can fly in comfort while pilots have access to advanced in-flight avionics and a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-114A turboprop engine.

The Cessna 310 has been around for over 50 years, with the first-ever model built in 1953. Over 3,000 of these planes have been made, and you can expect a maximum speed on most models of 237 miles per hour.

However, other 310 variants with more advanced designs can go even faster. For example, the 310R has a bigger engine and can test higher speeds up to 272 miles per hour.

This plane has a similar interior design with either four or six seats, but a twin-engine design allows for more power and speed.

Cessna 750 Citation X

The Cessna 750 Citation X is a more advanced business jet with significantly more size and features when compared to the smaller 172 planes.

This aircraft provides a top speed of 717 miles per hour with a range of nearly 4,000 miles. This plane is better equipped for long-distance flying, with increased interior space for bigger parties.

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1962 CESSNA 172C

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Single engine piston aircraft with fixed landing gear. The 172C seats up to 3 passengers plus 1 pilot.

View 197 CESSNA 172 For Sale

PAPI™ Price Estimate

Market stats.

c 172 cruise speed

Performance specifications


Best Cruise Speed:

Best Range (i):

Fuel Burn @ 75%:

Stall Speed:

Rate of climb:

Takeoff distance:

Landing distance:

Takeoff distance over 50ft obstacle:

Landing distance over 50ft obstacle:

Gross Weight:

Empty Weight:

Fuel capacity:

Ownership Costs 1962

Total cost of ownership:.

Total Fixed Cost:

Total Variable Cost:

Total Fixed Cost

Annual inspection cost:

Weather service:

Refurbishing and modernization:


Total Variable Cost ( 140.4 Hrs ) Cost Per Hour = $73.00 Cost Per Mile = $0.64

Fuel cost per hour: (7.0 gallons/hr @ $5.40/gal)

Oil cost per hour:

Overhaul reserves:

Hourly maintenance:

Misc: landing, parking, supplies, catering, etc

Engine (x1)


Overhaul (HT):

Years before overhaul:

Image description

Complete Walkaround

Also consider, cessna 172n hawk 100 (1977 - 1977).

Image description

Typical Price: $114,392.00 Total Cost of Ownership: $18,951.61 Best Cruise: 122 KIAS ( 8 ) Best Range: 564 NM ( 49 ) Fuelburn: 8.0 GPH ( 1.0 )

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  1. Cessna 172

    The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is an American four-seat, single-engine, high wing, ... Continental GO-300E, increasing cruise speed by 11 mph (18 km/h) relative to the standard 172D. In reality this was not a new model, but rather a Cessna 175 Skylark that had been rebranded to overcome a reputation for poor engine reliability. The ploy was ...

  2. Cessna 172 Guide and Specs : Is It Worth It?

    A well-maintained Cessna 172 has great resale value. A high-hour flight school unit made in the 1980s and without avionics upgrades goes for as low as $58,000, but low-time or overhauled airframes can fetch up to $280,000. Most Cessna 172 listings orbit around the $80,000-$120,000 range.

  3. Cessna 172S

    For many of us, the first exposure we had to Cessna's 172 was the first step-up in size and performance from a two-seat trainer, most likely the Cessna 150/152 series. ... Cruise speed/endurance w/45-min rsv, std fuel (fuel consumption, ea engine) @ 75% power, best economy. 124 kt/4.26 hr (9.9 gph) Range. 640 nm.

  4. How do I appropriately choose the power settings on a C172 for cruise?

    Best Speed. Assuming range isn't a problem, you typically want to get to your destination as quickly as possible, especially when you're paying a wet rental rate. Look in the cruise performance table to find the best TAS for each potential altitude, and then factor in the head/tail wind for each altitude according to the winds aloft forecast.

  5. The Cessna 172 Guide

    Vno (Max. Structural Cruising) 140 MPH (172) / 144 MPH (Skyhawk) 135 MPH (172) / 138 MPH (Skyhawk) 182 MPH 145 MPH . Do Not Use This Information For Flight Planning : Cruise: ... Stall Speed (KCAS): Flaps Up, Power Off Flaps Down, Power Off: 57 MPH 49 MPH: Gross Weight: 2300 Pounds: Standard Empty Weight: Model 172 Skyhawk: 1300 Pounds

  6. Cruise Performance Charts

    Cruise Performance Charts. I fly a Cessna 172N, which comes with a POH with lots of information. One of the more useful tables is the Cruise Performance table shown below (Figure 1). The chart gives the fuel flow rate and true airspeed for various combinations of pressure altitude, temperature, and engine percent power.

  7. The Cessna 172 Guide

    Cessna 172. R. Performance - Specifications. Speed: Maximum at Sea Level. Cruise, 80% Power at 8000 Feet. 123 Knots. 122 Knots. Do Not Use This Information For Flight Planning.

  8. Cessna 172,-D,-E,-F,-G,-H Performance Information

    Horsepower: 145 Gross Weight: 2300 lbs Top Speed: 121 kts Empty Weight: 1330 lbs Cruise Speed: 114 kts Fuel Capacity: 42 gal Stall Speed (dirty): 43 kts Range: 515 nm Takeoff: Landing: Ground Roll: 865 ft Ground Roll 520 ft: Over 50 ft obstacle: 1525 ft Over 50 ft obstacle: 1250 ft Rate Of Climb: 645 fpm Ceiling: 13100 ft

  9. The Cessna 172 Guide

    Cessna 172 - 1958: Performance - Specifications : Speed: Maximum Cruise Vne (Never Exceed Speed) Vno (Max. Structural Cruising) 131 MPH 125 MPH / 491 SM / 3.9 HRS 160 MPH : Do Not Use This Information For Flight Planning. Rate of Climb at Sea Level: ... Stall Speed (KCAS): Flaps Up, Power Off Flaps Down, Power Off: 58 MPH 52 MPH: Gross Weight:

  10. All About the Cessna 172 Skyhawk

    Original Model Cessna 172 Specs. Maximum Speed: 131 MPH Cruise Speed: 125 MPH / 491 SM / 3.9 HRS Vne (Never Exceed Speed): 160 MPH. Rate of Climb at Sea Level: 660 FPM Service Ceiling: 15,100 Feet. Takeoff Performance. Ground Roll: 725 Feet Total Distance over 50-FT Obstacle: 1650 Feet. Landing Performance Ground Roll: 680 Feet

  11. Best Selling Aircraft: What Is The Cessna 172's Range?

    For a four-person (at capacity), the flying range is reduced to 440 NM. The Cessna 172 has a Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) of 2,450 lbs (1,110 kg). The four-cylinder Lycoming IO-360 horizontal opposed engine enables a cruise speed of 125 knots (140 mph, 225 km/h). The engine generates 160 horsepower (120 kW).

  12. CESSNA 172 Specifications, Cabin Dimensions, Performance

    Technical Specifications of the Cessna 172. The first production Cessna 172 Skyhawk was equipped with a Continental O-300 145 hp (108 kW) six-cylinder, air-cooled engine and had a maximum gross weight of 2,200 lb (998 kg). The introductory base price of the Cessna 172 was US $8,995, and a total of 4,195 were constructed over its first five ...

  13. PDF Specifications and Limitations

    Cruise Performance* Cruise at 2000ft pressure altitude 2300 rpm 105 KTAS, 6.3 gph Cruise at 10,000ft pressure altitude 2300 rpm 101 KTAS, 5.6 gph *Cruise figures provided from the pilots operating handbook should be used with a contingency factor, a block cruises speed and fuel flow that allows for contingency and

  14. Cessna 172 Skyhawk

    The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a single engine four-seat light touring aircraft produced by the US-American manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company, a subsidiary of Textron Aviation. The Cessna 172 was in production by Cessna and Reims (France) between 1956 and 1986. Production resumed in 1997 as Skyhawk 172R and Skyhawk SP, based on Cessna 172B.

  15. The Most Produced Aircraft: What Is The Cessna 172's Cruise Speed?

    Cessna 172 cruise speed . The current in-production model of the 172 series is the Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, offering modern upgrades like a glass cockpit, Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite and a 180 ...

  16. PDF C172SP Data Sheet

    Max. structural cruising speed Vno 129 KIAS Enroute climb speed 75-85 KIAS Approach Speed 60-70 KIAS Never exceed speed Vne 163 KIAS Demonstrated Crosswind Component 15 knots Lafayette Aviation Inc. Cessna 172SP Data Sheet. Title: C172SP Data Sheet Author: Matthew Gasper Created Date: 12/15/2010 9:00:32 PM ...


    VNO 128 KIAS Maximum structural cruising speed VNE 160 KIAS Never-exceed speed Takeoff Data (Assumes C172M, no wind/ISA/max weight) Sea Level 2500' MSL 5000' MSL Ground Roll 865 feet 1040 feet 1255 feet Total to lear 50' Obstacle 1525 feet 1910 feet 2490 feet Cruise Data (Assumes ...

  18. The Cessna 172 Skyhawk

    The most common aircraft in the world, the C-172, has been a staple in aircraft training since its inception in the mid 1950s - but our fleet isn't that old. ... Max Cruise Speed. 124 KTAS (230 km/h) Maximum Speed. 163 KIAS (302 km/h) Stall Speed. 48 KCAS (89 km/h) Climb Rate. 730 ft/min (223 m/min) Takeoff Distance. 1,630 ft (497 m)

  19. 1956

    The 172 seats up to 3 passengers plus 1 pilot. Toggle navigation. Marketplace . Pro Buyer Program; Pro Seller Program; Buyer's Navigation; Seller's Navigation ... Best Cruise Speed: 108 KIAS. Best Range (i): 420 NM. Fuel Burn @ 75%: 8.0 GPH. Stall Speed: 50 KIAS. Rate of climb: 660 FPM. Ceiling: 13,300 FT. Takeoff distance: 950 FT. Landing ...

  20. The Cessna 172 Guide

    172N - 1977 172N - 197 8 172N-1980. Performance - Specifications. Speed: Maximum at Sea Level. Cruise, 75% Power at 8000 Feet. Vne (Never Exceed Speed) Vno (Max. Structural Cruising) 125 Knots.

  21. What Is The Top Speed Of A Cessna 172

    Before takeoff, you should know critical factors like total range, top speed, and the plane's capacity. The top speed of a Cessna 172 is 187.6 miles per hour, ranking as a mid-tier speed option compared to other Cessna planes. This improved version of the Cessna 170 also provides a cruising speed of 141 MPH. With over 44,000 created, it is the ...

  22. CESSNA 172C

    View 197 CESSNA 172 For Sale PAPI™ Price Estimate (as of June 1, 2022): $54,543. Market Stats. Number of transactions last month: ... Performance specifications. Horsepower: 1 x 145 HP. Best Cruise Speed: 114 KIAS. Best Range (i): 515 NM. Fuel Burn @ 75%: 7.0 GPH. Stall Speed: 43 KIAS. Rate of climb: 675 FPM. Ceiling: 14,200 FT. Takeoff ...

  23. The Cessna 172 Guide

    Speed: Maximum at Sea Level Cruise, 75% Power at 9000 Feet Vne (Never Exceed Speed) Vno (Max. Structural Cruising) 138 mph (172) / 139 mph (Skyhawk) 130 mph (172) / 131 mph (Skyhawk) 174 MPH 140 MPH . Do Not Use This Information For Flight Planning : Cruise: 75% Power at 7000 Feet Model 172 (36 Gallons Useable Fuel) ...

  24. CESSNA 172 XP Specifications, Cabin Dimensions, Performance

    From 1977 to 1981 Cessna produced the R172K Hawk XP, a model available from both Wichita and Reims. This configuration featured a fuel injected, Continental IO-360K (later IO-360KB) derated to 195 hp (145 kW) with a two-bladed, constant-speed propeller. The Hawk XP was capable of a 131-knot (243 km/h) cruise speed.

  25. CESSNA 172N Specifications, Cabin Dimensions, Performance

    The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a four-seat, single engine, high wing, fixed-wing aircraft made by the Cessna Aircraft Company. First flown in 1955, more Cessna 172s have been built than any other aircraft. Measured by its longevity and popularity, the Cessna 172 is the most successful aircraft in history.