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Cessna 172 (Skyhawk)

Light Utility / Multirole Aircraft

Cessna 172 (Skyhawk)

Light Utility / Multirole Aircraft


The Cessna 172 has proven a critical commercial success for the Cessna Aircraft Company to the tune of 44,000 units built since 1956.
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ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1956
STATUS: Active, In-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Cessna Aircraft Company / Textron Aviation - USA
OPERATORS: Austria; Australia; Bolivia; Brazil; Canada; Chile; China; Ecuador; Finland; France; Guatemala; Honduras; Iraq; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Liberia; Lithuania; Madagascar; Norway; Pakistan; Philippines; Portugal; Russia; Saudi Arabia; Singapore; South Africa; South Korea; Spain; Sweden; United Kingdom; United States

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Cessna 172 (Skyhawk) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 27.17 feet (8.28 meters)
WIDTH: 36.09 feet (11 meters)
HEIGHT: 8.92 feet (2.72 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 1,640 pounds (744 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 2,557 pounds (1,160 kilograms)
ENGINE: (Variable): 1 x Continental O-300 six-cylinder, air-cooled engine developing 145 horsepower; 1 x Textron Lycoming IO-360-L2A engine of 180 horsepower.
SPEED (MAX): 186 miles-per-hour (300 kilometers-per-hour; 162 knots)
RANGE: 736 miles (1,185 kilometers; 640 nautical miles)
CEILING: 14,009 feet (4,270 meters; 2.65 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 730 feet-per-minute (223 meters-per-minute)



Series Model Variants
• 172 - Base Series Designation; original production form of 1955; gross weight of 2,200lb; powered by Continental O-300 145 horsepower engine; 4,195 examples.
• 172A - Model of 1960; swept-back tail fin; 1,015 examples.
• 172B - Model of 1960 (late); revised undercarriage and engine mounting with redesigned cowling; Skyhawk package made available; increased gross weight to 2,205lb.
• 172C - Model of 1962; internal changes; 889 examples.
• 172D - Model of 1963; modified lower rear fuselage; wrap-around rear window; revised front windshield; 1,146 examples.
• 172E - Model of 1964; switch to electrical fuses; revised instrument panel; 1,401 examples.
• 172F - Model of 1965; electrically-driven flaps; 1,436 examples.
• 172G - Model of 1966; revised spinner; 1,597 examples.
• 172H - Model of 1967; short-stroke nose gear oleo; revised cowling; electric stall warning indicator (instead of horn version).
• 172I - Model of 1968; initial Lycoming-powered model; Lycoming O-320-E2D engine of 150 horsepower; slightly increased performance.
• 172J - Proposed cantilever-wing / stabilitor; not enacted due to dealer pressure.
• 172K - Model of 1969; redesigned tail fin and rear window panes; optional long-range fuel tanks; 1,170 examples.
• 172L - Model of 1971; modified main landing gear legs; 1,811 examples.
• 172M - Model of 1973; dropped leading wing edge introduced; 7,306 examples.
• 172N (Skyhawk 100) - Model of 1977; O-320-H2AD engine fitted; rudder trim option.
• 172O - Designation not used.
• 172P (Skyhawk P) - Model of 1981; Lycoming O-320-D2J with improved performance and reliability; 196 examples.
• 172Q "Cutlass" - Model of 1983; IO-360-A4N engine of 180 horsepower; gross weight of 2,550lb.
• 172R - Model of 1996; IO-360-L2A engine of 160 horsepower; fuel-injection; gross weight of 2,450lb.
• 172RG "Cutlass" - Retractable Gear variant; model of 1980.
• 172S - Model of 1998; IO-360-L2A engine of 180 horsepower; Garmin G1000 avionics optional.
• Reims FR172J - Rolls-Royce FI Continental IO-360-H(B) engine of 210 horsepower.
• R172K "Hawk XP" - Model of 1977; Continental FI IO-360K engine of 195 horsepower.
• 172TD - Model of 2007; porposed diesel-fueled variant; not furthered.
• 172 Electric - Model of 2010; proposed electric-powered variant; successfully test-flown.
• T-41 "Mescalero" - USAF flight training platform; introduced in 1964 and produced into 1996.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Cessna 172 (Skyhawk) Light Utility / Multirole Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 9/7/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The Cessna Model 172 is the most successful light aircraft in history with 44,000 production units made since series introduction occurred in 1956 (and production continuing today - 2018). The Model 172 was developed from the earlier Model 170 which appeared in 1948 as a single-engine, shoulder-winged general aviation aircraft with fixed, "tail-dragging" undercarriage through 5,174 examples. The follow-on Model 172 found huge success in the general aviation market as well as the military sphere and, despite its Cold War-era introduction, continues to "fly high" even today (2018).

The Cessna 172 was drawn up as an improved version of the original Model 170. The series was first-flown in January of 1955 as the "Model 170C" and carried a Continental O-300-A engine driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose. The tailfin and elevators were both redesigned from the original and were given an increase to surface area for added stability and control. Further changes (following certification) of the C-model ultimately introduced the iconic fixed, wheeled tricycle undercarriage common to Model 172 aircraft today. Cabin seating allowed for four-to-five persons to be carried including the pilot. Forward positions numbered two (side-by-side) with the remaining three in the back (side-by-side-by-side). In this revised form, the aircraft was first-flown on June 12th, 1955 and was introduced for service as the "Model 172". The type proved immediately popular with thousands being manufactured in the first few years of availability alone.

Throughout the course of its operational service life, the Cessna 172 underwent an evolution that saw both minor and major revisions to the line - increasing gross weights, aerodynamic efficiency, performance, ergonomics and the like. Modifications allowed for floatplane /amphibious models to emerge and the type was also taken into military service by the USAF as a flight trainer through the T-41 "Mescalero" variant (detailed elsewhere on this site). The Model 172A of 1960 introduced the modern swept-back tail fin while the "Skyhawk" deluxe package was introduced in the Model 172B of late-1960. The Model 172I of 1968 was the first to switch over to the Lycoming O-320-E2D engine of 150 horsepower (thereby increasing some performance figures).

Various other military powers soon adopted the type in useful numbers for both land- and sea-based service to undertake a plethora of roles. The Model 172 has since evolved to much more modern forms today (2018) all the while retaining its versatility, reliability, and popularity - making it a sound choice for first-time student flyers and veteran general aviation buffs alike.

The Cessna 172 as a Record-Setter
In 1958, the Cessna 172 was used to set an endurance record in which the aircraft covered 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes and 5 seconds in a flight originating from, and ending at, McCarran Airfield in Las Vegas, Nevada. With some modifications in place as well as a very detailed flight plan, the aircraft with its crew of two were able to make the round-the-world journey in the light airplane. The flight went down in the history books and the record stands to this day.


The base Model 172R form offers a cruising speed of 140 miles per hour with a range of 800 miles. Its service ceiling is 13,500 feet and rate-of-climb reaches 720 feet-per-minute. Empty weight is 1,700lb against an MTOW of 2,450lb. The Garmin 1000 avionics fit is an optional upgrade to the cockpit.

Dimensions include an overall length of 27 feet, a wingspan measuring 36 feet, and a height of 8.10 feet.


General Assessment (BETA)
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Rating: 64 (of 100)
The rating is an internal assessment derived from forty factors pertaining to this entry.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (186mph).

    Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Cessna 172's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
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Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue