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  Aircraft History, Specification and Information
Cessna 172 Skyhawk
Cessna 172SP Skyhawk SP - N403SP
1999 Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP - N403SP (sn 172S8295)
NAC - Naples Air Center
Photo taken Oct. 31, 2010
Naples Municipal Airport - Naples, FL - USA (APF / KAPF)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a four-seat, single-engine, high-wing fixed-wing aircraft. First flown in 1955 and still in production, more Cessna 172s have been built than any other aircraft.

Design & Development

Cessna 172
Cessna 172 N8234B
1957 Cessna 172
N8234B (sn 36034)
Photo taken Jul. 27, 2010
Oshkosh (EAA AirVenture Fly-in), WI - USA (OSH / KOSH)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Cessna 172A
N1AX Cessna 172A
1960 Cessna 172A
N1AX (sn 47418)
Image taken Jul. 27, 2010
Oshkosh (EAA AirVenture Fly-in), WI - USA (OSH / KOSH)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Cessna 172E
Cessna 172E Skyhawk N3815S
1963 Cessna 172E Skyhawk
N3815S (sn 51015)
Jay Cee Flying Club
Photo taken Jul. 27, 2010
Oshkosh (EAA AirVenture Fly-in), WI - USA (OSH / KOSH)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Cessna 172F
Cessna 172F Skyhawk C-GYFN
1965 Cessna 172F Skyhawk
C-GYFN (sn 17251942)
Photo taken Jul. 12, 2004
Chilliwack, BC - Canada (YCW / CYCW)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Cessna 172G
Cessna 172G Skyhawk C-FUER
1965 Cessna 172G Skyhawk
C-FUER (sn 17254163)
Photo taken Sep. 26, 2003
Chilliwack, BC - Canada (YCW / CYCW)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Cessna 172I
Cessna 172I Skyhawk C-GXTN
1968 Cessna 172I Skyhawk
C-GXTN (sn 17256605)
Photo taken Jul. 12, 2004
Boundary Bay, BC - Canada (ZBB / CZBB)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Cessna 172K
Cessna 172K Skyhawk C-FZRH
1969 Cessna 172K Skyhawk
C-FZRH (sn 17258438)
Photo taken Jul. 12, 2004
Boundary Bay, BC - Canada (ZBB / CZBB)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Cessna R172K Hawk XP
Cessna R172K Hawk XP C-GIWM Pacific Flying Club
1977 Cessna R172K Hawk XP
C-GIWM (sn R1722436)
Pacific Flying Club
Photo taken Jul. 12, 2004
Boundary Bay, BC - Canada (ZBB / CZBB)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Reims Aviation
FR172K Hawk XP
Reims Aviation FR172K Hawk XP HB-CCA
1977 Reims Aviation FR172K Hawk XP
HB-CCA (sn 00621)
Flugsportgruppe Polizei Zürich - FPZ
Photo taken Sep. 01, 2009
Speck-Fehraltorf - Switzerland (LSZK)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Cessna 172L
Cessna 172L Skyhawk N7718G
1970 Cessna 172L Skyhawk
N7718G (sn 17259418)
Photo taken Jul. 27, 2010
Oshkosh (EAA AirVenture Fly-in), WI - USA (OSH / KOSH)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Cessna 172M
Cessna 172M Skyhawk N9688Q
1975 Cessna 172M Skyhawk
N9688Q (sn 17265772)
Photo taken Jul. 29, 2010
Oshkosh (EAA AirVenture Fly-in), WI - USA (OSH / KOSH)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Reims Aviation F172M
Reims Aviation F172M HB-CLY
1973 Reims Aviation F172M
HB-CLY (sn 0976)
Owner: Skymedia AG
Photo taken Feb. 04, 2003
Buochs Airport - Switzerland (LSZC)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Cessna 172N
Cessna 172N Skyhawk N734LQ Snohomish Flying Service
1977 Cessna 172N Skyhawk
N734LQ (sn 17268941)
Snohomish Flying Service
Photo taken Jul. 08, 2006
Snohomish - Harvey Field, WA - USA (S43 / KS43)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Cessna 172P
Cessna 172P Skyhawk N53293
1981 Cessna 172P Skyhawk
N53293 (sn 17274716)
CAP - Civil Air Patrol
Photo taken Nov. 01, 2010
St Lucie County International Airport - Fort Pierce, FL - USA (FPR / KFPR)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP
Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP N421ER
2004 Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP
N421ER (sn 172S9679)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Photo taken Nov. 06, 2010
Sebring Regional Airport, FL - USA (SEF / KSEF)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler

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. As of 2008, more than 43,000 had been built. 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 variant of the taildragger Cessna 170, with a basic level of standard equipment. In January 1955, the company had flown an improved variant of the Cessna 170, a Continental O-300-A-powered Cessna 170C with a larger elevator and more angular vertical tail. Although the variant was tested and certified, Cessna decided to modify it with a tricycle landing gear, and the modified Cessna 170C flew again on 12 June 1955. To reduce the time and cost of certification, the type was added to the Cessna 170 type certificate as the Model 172. Later, the 172 was given its own type certificate, 3A12. The 172 became an overnight sales success, and over 1,400 were built in 1956, its first full year of production.

Early 172s were similar in appearance to the 170s, 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 the sweptback tail which is still in use today. The final aesthetic development, in the mid-1960s, was a lowered rear deck that allowed an aft window. Cessna advertised this added rear visibility as "Omni-Vision." 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. This was supplemented in 1998 by the 180 hp (135 kW) Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP.


The Cessna 172 may be modified via a wide array of Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs), including increased engine power and higher gross weights. Available STC engine modifications increase power to 180 to 210 hp (134 to 157 kW), add constant-speed propellers, or allow the use of automobile gasoline. Other modifications include additional fuel tank capacity in the wing tips, added baggage compartment tanks, added wheel pants to reduce drag, or enhanced landing and takeoff performance and safety with a STOL kit.

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 Runyon 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 aircraft, filling an auxiliary belly tank installed for the flight, pumping that fuel into the aircraft's regular tanks, and then filling the belly tank again. The drivers steered while a second person matched speeds with the aircraft 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, and plugged into the cigarette lighter socket; it served as the aircraft's source of electricity for the rest of the flight. The pilots decided to end the marathon flight because with 1,558 hours of continuously running the engine 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.


  • 172
    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 hp (108 kW) six-cylinder, air-cooled engine and had a maximum gross weight of 2,200 lb (998 kg). Introductory base price was US$8,995 and a total of 4,195 were constructed over the five years.
  • 172A
    The 1960 model 172A introduced a swept back tail and rudder, as well as float fittings. The price was US$9,450 and 1,015 were built.
  • 172B
    The 172B was introduced in late 1960 as the 1961 model and featured a shorter undercarriage, engine mounts lengthened three inches (76 mm), a reshaped cowling, and a pointed propeller spinner. 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 2,250 lb (1,021 kg).
  • 172C
    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 US$9,895. A total of 889 172C models were produced.
  • 172D
    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. 1,146 172Ds were built. 1963 also saw the introduction of the 172D Powermatic. This was equipped with a Continental GO-300E producing 175 horsepower (130 kW) and a cruise speed 11 mph (18 km/h) 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.
  • 172E
    The 172E was the 1964 model. The electrical fuses were replaced with circuit breakers. Gross weight was increased to 2,300 lb (1,043 kg) where it would stay until the 172P. The 172E also featured a re-designed instrument panel. 1,401 172Es were built that year as production continued to increase.
  • 172F
    The 1965 model 172F introduced electrically operated flaps to replace the previous lever-operated system. 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 1,436 172Fs were completed.
  • 172G
    The 1966 model year 172G introduced a more pointed spinner and sold for US$12,450 in its basic 172 version and US$13,300 in the upgraded Skyhawk version. 1,597 were built.
  • 172H
    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 US$10,950 while the Skyhawk version was US$12,750. 839 were built that year, representing the first year that production was less than the year before.
  • 172I
    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 O-300 6-cyl engine of 145 hp (108 kW). The "I" model was introduced with a Lycoming O-320-E2D engine of 150 hp (112 kW), an increase of 5 hp (3.7 kW) over the Continental powerplant. The increased power resulted in an increase in optimal cruise from 130 mph (209 km/h) TAS to 131 mph (211 km/h) TAS. There was no change in the sea level rate of climb at 645 ft (197 m) per minute. The 172I also introduced the first standard "T" instrument arrangement. The 172I saw an increase in production to record levels with 1,206 built.
  • 172J
    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.
  • 172K
    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 gal (197 l) wing fuel tanks were offered. The rear windows were slightly enlarged by 16 square inches (103 cm2). The 1969 model sold for US$12,500 for the 172 and US$13,995 for the Skyhawk, with 1,170 made. 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.
  • 172L
    The 172L, sold during 1971 and 1972, replaced the main landing gear legs (which were originally flat spring steel) with tapered, tubular steel gear legs. The new gear had a width that was increased by 12 in (30 cm). 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 US$13,425 in the 172 version and US$14,995 in the Skyhawk version. 827 172Ls were sold in 1971 and 984 in 1972.
  • 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. The 1975 model 172M sold for US$16,055 for the 172, US$17,890 for the Skyhawk and US$20,335 for the Skyhawk II. 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. Among other changes, the fuel and other small gauges are relocated to the left side for improved pilot readability compared with the earlier 172 panel designs. Total production of "M" models was 7306 over the four years it was manufactured.
  • 172N
    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 horsepower (119 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 US$22,300, with the Skyhawk/100 II selling for US$29,950. The 1978 model brought a 28-volt electrical system to replace the previous 14-volt system. Air conditioning was an option. The 1979 model "N" increased the flap extension speed for the first 10 degrees to 115 knots (213 km/h). Larger wing tanks increased the optional fuel to 66 US gallons (250 l). The "N" remained in production until 1980 when the 172P or Skyhawk P was introduced.
  • 172O
    There was no "O" ("Oscar") model 172.
  • 172P
    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 2,300 lb (1,043 kg) to 2,400 lb (1,089 kg). A wet wing was optional, with a capacity of 62 US gallons of fuel. The price of a new Skyhawk P was US$33,950, with the Skyhawk P II costing US$37,810 and the Nav/Pac equipped Skyhawk P II selling for US$42,460. In 1982, the "P" saw the landing lights moved from the nose to the wing to increase bulb life. The 1983 model added some minor sound-proofing improvements and thicker windows. A second door latch pin was introduced in 1984. Production of the "P" ended in 1986 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. There were only 195 172s built in 1984, a rate of fewer than 4 per week.
  • 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 180 horsepower (134 kW). The aircraft had a gross weight of 2,550 lb (1,157 kg) and an optimal cruise speed of 122 knots (226 km/h) compared to the 172P's cruise speed of 120 knots (222 km/h) on 20 hp (15 kW) less. It had a useful load that was about 100 lb (45 kg) more than the Skyhawk P and a rate of climb that was actually 20 feet (6 m) per minute lower, due to the higher gross weight. Production ended after only three years when all 172 production stopped.
  • 172R
    The Skyhawk R was introduced in 1996 and is powered by a derated Lycoming IO-360-L2A producing a maximum of 160 horsepower (120 kW) 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 lb (1,111 kg). 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. As of 2012 the R model is still in production.
  • 172S
    The Cessna 172S was introduced in 1998 and is powered by a Lycoming IO-360-L2A producing 180 horsepower (134 kW). The maximum engine rpm was increased from 2,400 rpm to 2,700 rpm resulting in a 20 hp (15 kW) increase over the "R" model. As a result, the maximum takeoff weight was increased to 2,550 lb (1,157 kg). This model is marketed under the name Skyhawk SP, although the Type Certification data sheet specifies it is a 172S. The 172S is built primarily for the private owner-operator and is, in its later years, offered with the Garmin G1000 avionics package and leather seats as standard equipment. As of 2012 the S model is still in production.
  • 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 180 horsepower (130 kW). The 172RG sold for about US$19,000 more than the standard 172 of the same year and produced an optimal cruise speed of 140 knots (260 km/h), compared to 122 knots (226 km/h) for the contemporary 160 horsepower (120 kW) version. 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 was actually certified on the Cessna 175 type certificate.

Reims FR172J and Cessna R172K Hawk XP

The FR172J Reims Rocket was produced by Reims Aviation in France from the late 60s to the mid 70s. It was powered by a Rolls-Royce built, fuel-injected, Continental IO-360D 210 hp (160 kW) engine with a constant speed prop.

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 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.

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 power improves water take-off performance dramatically.

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

Model Overview

Model Model Years Engine Notes
172 1956-1958 Continental O-300/145hp  Straight-tail, gross weight 2200 pounds, 12-volt electrical system
172 1959 Continental O-300/145hp  Cowling changed to improve cooling, instrument panel redesigned
172A 1960 Continental O-300/145hp  Introduced the swept tail, wet vacuum pump option
172B 1961 Continental O-300/145hp  Shortened undercarriage, lengthened engine mount, pointed prop spinner
172C 1962 Continental O-300/145hp  Key operated starter, optional child seat in baggage compartment; floatplane option
172D 1963 Continental O-300/145hp  Wraparound rear window and one-piece windscreen
172E 1964 Continental O-300/145hp  Electric fuses replaced by circuit breakers, gross weight 2300 pounds
172F 1965 Continental O-300/145hp  Electrically operated flaps replaced the "Johnson" bar
F172 1965-1971 Continental O-300/145hp  Built in France by Reims Cessna
172G 1966 Continental O-300/145hp  Extension added between crankshaft and propeller, spinner lengthened
172H 1967 Continental O-300/145hp  Nose gear strut shortened, improved cowling, alternator replaces generator
172I 1968 Lycoming O-320-E2D/150hp  14-volt electrical system
172K 1969 Lycoming O-320-E2D/150hp  Larger rear side windows, dorsal fin added to vertical stabilizer
172K 1970 Lycoming O-320-E2D/150hp  Drooping fiberglass wingtips
172L 1971 Lycoming O-320-E2D/150hp  Tubular steel main gear replaced the old spring steel undercarriage
172L 1972 Lycoming O-320-E2D/150hp  Dorsal fin extended, propeller diameter reduced by 1 inch
172M 1973 Lycoming O-320-E2D/150hp  Drooped wing leading edge
172M 1974 Lycoming O-320-E2D/150hp  Baggage compartment size increased
172M 1975 Lycoming O-320-E2D/150hp  
172M 1976 Lycoming O-320-E2D/150hp  Airspeed registration changed from MPH to Knots
172N 1977 Lycoming O-320-H2AD/160hp  The problematic H2AD engine was introduced, "notched" flap control
172N 1978 Lycoming O-320-H2AD/160hp  28-volt electrical system replaced the old 14-volt system
172N 1979 Lycoming O-320-H2AD/160hp  Vfe increased to 110kias for 10 degrees; floatplane option
172N 1980 Lycoming O-320-H2AD/160hp  
R172K XP 1977-1981 Continental IO-360-k/195hp  Fuel injection, constant speed prop, 131 knots cruise speed, cowl flaps
172RG "Cutlass RG" 1980-1984 Lycoming O-360-F1A6/180hp  Retractable landing gear, constant speed prop, backup electric fuel pump, cowl flap
172P 1981 Lycoming O-320-D2J/160hp  Gross weight 2400 pounds, maximum flap extension 30 degrees
172P 1982-1983 Lycoming O-320-D2J/160hp  
172P 1984 Lycoming O-320-D2J/160hp  
172P 1985-1986 Lycoming O-320-D2J/160hp  
172Q "Cutlass" 1983  Lycoming O-360-A4N/180hp  Gross weight 2550 pounds
172R 1996 Lycoming IO-360L2A/160hp  Fuel injection, gross weight 2450 pounds
172S 1998 Lycoming IO-360L2A/180hp  Gross weight 2550 pounds

Future Models


On October 4, 2007 Cessna announced its plan to build a diesel-powered Cessna 172 model starting in mid-2008. The planned engine was to 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. The engine produced 155 hp (116 kW) and burns Jet-A fuel. The engines were to be installed at the Cessna Skyhawk factory in Independence, Kansas under an STC. The new model was designated the 172 Skyhawk TD, indicating "Turbo Diesel".

Cessna had taken special measures to ensure that the Skyhawk TD would be only fueled with Jet-A and not misfueled with avgas. These included placards, key-shaped tank fillers that only accept jet fuel nozzles and a spring-loaded door activated with a jet-fuel nozzle. The aircraft was planned to be certified for Jet-A only and not automotive diesel.

The TD was to be equipped with only one engine control, referred to as a "power control", although it resembled the push-pull style throttle used in previous 172 models. The prototype has no carburetor heat or mixture control. The prototype is equipped with a constant speed MT propeller, but this is controlled automatically and there is no propeller rpm control.

The TD was designed to have the same gross weight as the "S" Skyhawk, 2,552 lb (1,158 kg), but at 155 hp (116 kW) was intended to have 25 hp (19 kW) less than the "S" model. Because it is turbonormalized the prototype's engine produces full power at all altitudes and actually puts out more power than the "R" and "S" models above 8,500 feet (2,600 m), where the normally aspirated powerplant's output drops off.

To account for the fact that Jet-A has a higher density than avgas Cessna planned to reduce the tank capacity on the TD to 44.6 US gallons, giving 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 5,000 feet (1,500 m) 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.

Even with the reduced fuel tank capacity the full fuel payload of the TD will be 445 lb (202 kg) compared to 519 lb (235 kg) for the Cessna 172S and 440 lb (200 kg) for the 172R.

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

In early 2008 certification had been planned for the summer of 2008 and Cessna had forecast delivering about 125 TDs before the end of 2008.

The TD was intended to sell for about USD$15,000 more than the top of the line "SP" Skyhawk and $35,000 more than the "R". Base price was initially advertised as USD$269,500 versus USD$254,500 for the "SP" or $234,500 for the "R".

Early orders for the TD were strong with most of the demand from flight schools and non-US operators.

In April 2008 the 172TD's engine manufacturer, Thielert filed for insolvency under German law, throwing the future of the aircraft into doubt.

On May 1, 2008 Cessna announced that they had cancelled all 2008 deliveries of the 172TD due to the insolvency of Thielert. The company stated: "At this point we have decided that we will not deliver 172TD aircraft during 2008, and we have informed our customers accordingly." Cessna has indicated, however, that they will proceed with the certification of the 172TD.

Cessna has indicated that they still wish to produce a diesel 172 as market demand is strong for this aircraft with over 100 orders.

Electric-powered 172

In July 2010, Cessna announced it was developing an electrically powered 172 as a proof-of-concept in partnership with Bye Energy. In July 2011, Bye Energy, whose name had been changed to Beyond Aviation, announced the prototype had commenced taxi tests on 22 July 2011 and a first flight would follow soon.

Military Operators

A variant of the 172, the T-41 Mescalero was used as a trainer with the United States Air Force and Army. In addition, the United States Border Patrol uses a fleet of 172s for aerial surveillance along the Mexico-US border.

The Irish Air Corps uses the Reims version for aerial surveillance and monitoring of cash, prisoner and explosive escorts, in addition to 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.

  • Austria
    Austrian Air Force 1× 172
  • Bolivia
    Bolivian Air Force 3× 172K
  • Chile
    Chilean Army 18× R172K
  • Ecuador
    Ecuadorian Air Force 8× 172F
    Ecuadorian Army 1× 172G
  • Guatemala
    Guatemalan Air Force 6× 172K
  • Honduras
    Honduran Air Force 3
  • Iraq
    Iraqi Air Force
  • Ireland
    Irish Air Corps 8× FR172H, 1× FR172K
  • Liberia
    Air Reconnaissance Unit 2
  • Madagascar
    Malagasy Air Force 4× 172M
  • Pakistan
    Pakistan Air Force 4× 172N
  • Saudi Arabia
    Royal Saudi Air Force 8× F172G, 4× F172H, 4× F172M
  • Singapore
    Republic of Singapore Air Force 8× 172K, delivered 1969 and retired 1972.

Accidents & Incidents

On October 23, 1964, David Box, lead singer for The Crickets on their 1960 release version of "Peggy Sue Got Married" and "Don't Cha Know" and later a solo artist, was killed when the Cessna 172 he was aboard crashed in northwest Harris County, Texas while enroute to a performance. Box was the second lead vocalist for The Crickets to die in a plane crash after Buddy Holly.

On August 31, 1969, Rocky Marciano was killed when the Cessna 172, in which he was a passenger, crashed on approach to an airfield outside Newton, Iowa.

On September 25, 1978, a Cessna 172, N7711G, 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: two in the Cessna 172, 135 on the PSA Flight 182 and seven on the ground.

On May 28, 1987, a rented Reims Cessna F172P, D-ECJB, was used by a German teenage pilot Mathias Rust to fly an unauthorized flight from Helsinki-Malmi Airport through Soviet airspace to land near the Red Square in Moscow, all without being intercepted by Soviet air defense.

On April 9, 1990, Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 2254, an Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, collided head-on with a Civil Air Patrol Cessna 172, N99501, while en route from Gadsden Municipal Airport to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The Cessna crashed, killing two occupants, but the Brasilia made a safe emergency landing.

On January 5, 2002, high school student Charles J. Bishop stole a Cessna 172, N2731N, and crashed it into the side of the Bank of America Tower in downtown Tampa, Florida, killing only himself and otherwise causing very little damage.

On April 6, 2009, a Cessna 172N, C-GFJH, was stolen by a student from Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada and entered United States airspace over Lake Superior. The plane was intercepted and followed by NORAD F-16s, finally landing on Highway 60 in Ellsinore, Missouri after a seven-hour flight. The student pilot, a Canadian citizen born in Turkey, Adam Dylan Leon, formerly known as Yavuz Berke, was suffering from depression and attempted to commit suicide by being shot down. Instead, he was arrested shortly after landing. On November 3, 2009, he was sentenced to two years in a US federal prison after he pleaded guilty in August 2009 to all three charges against him: interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft, importation of a stolen aircraft, and illegal entry. College procedures at the time permitted students access to aircraft and the keys were routinely left in the aircraft.

Specifications (172S Skyhawk SP)

(Data from Cessna.com website - June 2012)


  • Maximum Cruise Speed: 124 ktas
  • Maximum Range 1: 640 nm
  • Takeoff Distance (S.L., ISA, MTOW) 2: 1,630 ft (Ground Roll: 960 ft)
  • Landing Distance (S.L., ISA, MLW): 1,335 ft (Ground Roll: 575 ft)
  • Maximum Operating Altitude: 14,000 ft
  • Maximum Climb Rate (Sea Level): 730 fpm
  • VNE: 163 kias
  • Stall Speed: 48 kcas

(1 45 minute Fuel Reserves, 45% Power @ 12,000 ft)
(2 Distance to 50 feet above the runway)

Avionics & Powerplant

  • Avionics: Garmin G1000
  • Powerplant: Textron Lycoming IO-360-L2A (180 hp)
  • Propeller: McCauley 2 blade metal, fixed pitch


  • Maximum Ramp Weight: 2,558 lb
  • Maximum Takeoff Weight: 2,550 lb
  • Maximum Landing Weight: 2,550 lb
  • Usable Fuel Capacity: Weight 318 lb / Volume 53 gal
  • Typically-Equipped Empty Weight 1: 1,717 lb
  • Useful Load: 841 lb
  • Maximum Payload: 833 lb
  • Full Fuel Payload: 523 lb
  • Baggage Capacity: Weight 120 lb / Volume 30 cu ft


  • Exterior
    Length: 27 ft 2 in
    Height: 8 ft 11 in
    Wingspan: 36 ft 1 in
    Wing Area: 174 sq ft
  • Cabin
    Length 2: 11 ft 10 in
    Maximum Height: 48 in
    Maximum Width: 40 in
    Seating Capacity: 4

Pricing / Operating Cost

  • Base Price 3: $307,500
  • Typically-Equipped Price 3: $307,500
  • Estimated Direct Operating Costs 4: Cost per Nautical Mile $1.13 / Cost per Hour $120.61

(1 Empty weight does not include a pilot. Actual empty weight can vary based on installed options)
(2 From front bulkhead to rear bulkhead)
(3 Price represents 2012 U.S. dollars)
(4 Represents costs for fuel, parts, airframe maintenance, and powerplant maintenance. Assumes a fuel Cost of $5.75 per gallon and a shop Rate of $85.00 per hour. Actual operating cost will vary according to mission profiles flown, maintenance practices, and utilization)

Specifications (172R Skyhawk)

(Data from Cessna Model 172R Specification & Description Brochure - January 2012)


  • Service Ceiling: 13,500 ft
  • Takeoff Distance S.L. (Ground Roll): 945 ft
  • Takeoff Distance S.L. (To Clear 50ft. Obstacle) 1685 ft
  • Max Climb Rate S.L.: 720 fpm
  • Max Speed S.L.: 123 kts / 141 mph
  • Max Range and Endurance: 687 nm / 6.6 hrs
  • Cruise Speed (80% pwr at 8,000 ft): 122 kts / 140 mph
  • Cruise Range and Endurance (80% pwr at 8,000 ft): 580 nm / 4.8 hrs
  • Landing Distance (Ground Roll): 550 ft
  • Landing Distance (To Clear 50 ft Obstacle): 1295 ft

All estimated performance data are based on airplane weights at 2,450 pounds; standard atmospheric condi- tions; level, hardsurface, dry runways; and no wind. They are calculated values derived from flight tests conducted by Cessna Aircraft Company under carefully doc- umented conditions and will vary with individual air- planes, pilots, and numerous other factors affecting flight performance.

Powerplant & Accessories

  • Lycoming IO-360-L2A Engine
  • 160 HP @ 2400 RPM
  • Certified for 100LL & 100 Fuel
  • Fuel Injection System
  • Tubular Steel Engine Mount
  • Dynafocal Rear Mount
  • Engine Driven Vacuum Pump
  • Automatic Alternate Engine Air
  • Oil Cooler
  • Shock Mounted Cowling
  • Induction Air Filter
  • Full Flow Oil Filter
  • Throttle Control
  • Vernier Mixture Control
  • Dual Ignition System, Shielded Magneto
  • Engine Exhaust Muffler
  • McCauley Fixed Pitch 2 – Blade Metal Propeller
  • Propeller Spinner, Painted
  • Electric Starter

Equipment List

The following list of equipment is included on the stan- dard aircraft with the GA Avionics Package and does not reflect optional equipment.

GA Avionics Package

  • GMA-1347 Digital Audio Panel with Marker Beacon/Intercom
  • GTX-33 Transponder-Mode S w-TIS
  • GIA-63W NAV/COM/GPS/WAAS with GS #1
  • GIA-63W NAV/COM/GPS/WAAS with GS #2
  • GDU-1040 Primary Flight Display (PFD)
  • GDU-1040 Multi-Function Display (MFD)
  • GEA-71 Engine/Airframe Computer
  • GRS-77 AHRS
  • GDC-74A Air Data Computer with OAT Probe
  • GMU-44 Magnetometer
  • Garmin SafeTaxi & FliteCharts
  • Electronic Checklists
  • ME406 Two Frequency Emergency Locator Transmitter
  • Emergency Locator Transmitter Remote Mounted Switch
  • Backup Attitude Gyro, Altimeter and Airspeed Indicator
  • Control Wheel Push-To-Talk Switch-Pilot/Copilot
  • Mic & Phone Jacks-Pilot/Copilot/Passengers
  • Auxiliary Stereo Input Jack
  • Antennas: Marker Beacon Antenna / Transponder Antenna / VHF/GPS Antenna / NAV Antenna / Emergency Locator Transmitter External Antenna
  • Pitot System - Heated
  • Static System
  • Hand Held Microphone
  • Alternate Static Source
  • Compass

Design Weight and Capacities

  • Ramp Weight
    Normal Category: 2,457 lbs (1,115 kg)
    Utility Category: 2,207 lbs (1,001 kg)
  • Takeoff Weight
    Normal Category: 2,450 lbs (1,111 kg)
    Utility Category: 2,200 lbs (998 kg)
  • Landing Weight
    Normal Category: 2,450 lbs (1,111 kg)
  • Standard Empty Weigh: 1,699 lbs (770.61 kg)
  • Maximum Useful Load
    Normal Category: 758 lbs (344 kg)
    Utility Category: 509 lbs (231 kg)
  • Baggage Allowance
    Normal Category: 120 lbs (54 kg)
  • Fuel Capacity
    Total Capacity: 56 gal (212 L)
    Total Useable: 53 gal (200.6 L)
    Total Capacity each Tank: 28 gal (106 L)
    Total Useable Capacity each Tank: 26.5 gal (100.3 L)
  • Oil Capacity
    Sump: 8 qts (7.6 L)
    Total Capacity: 9 qts (8.5 L)


  • Overall Height: 8 ft 11 in (2.72m)
  • Overall Length: 27 ft 2 in (8.28m)
  • Wing Span (overall): 36 ft 1 in (11.00m)
  • Wing Are: 174 sq ft (16.2sq m)
  • Cabin Height (max): 48 in (1.22m)
  • Cabin Width (trim to trim): 39.5 in (1.00m)
  • Cabin Length (firewall to aft baggage bulkhead): 142 in (3.61m)
  • Cabin Door Height (front): 40.5 in (1.03m)
  • Cabin Door Height (rear): 39 in (.99m)
  • Cabin Door Width (top): 32.5 in (.83m)
  • Cabin Door Width (bottom): 37 in (.94m)
  • Baggage Door Height (front) 22 in (.56m)
  • Baggage Door Height (rear) 21 in (.53m)
  • Baggage Door Width 15.3 in (.39m)
Last updated June 09, 2012
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cessna 172".
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