Gee ....lets see.
A single engine, 4 place, fixed gear, fixed prop, basic, simple low HP "light airplane". One whose basic airframe has been around for over half a century and whose R & D, tooling and most all other initial development costs have been paid for many times over, decades ago (essentially a (very) old airframe with a few tweaks and upgrade to some modern avionics ...which should also cost substantially less that their steam gauge, analog counterparts) ...all this for $300,000+ ?!?!? (oh, but you can get the venerable old "new & improved" Piper Archer for the same price!)
...and we (those of us who been watching "this" happen over these last 20-25 years) wonder why new student start-ups are just about half what they were in the 80's and we're seeing the slow, steady but inevitable death of "General Aviation" in this country?? ...we're killing it!! Turning it into solely a "Rich Man's" sport. ...Very sad indeed.
Wow! I guess I won't be buying one on retirement income. When I first got interested in flying new c-172s were selling for a base price of about $21,000 (Not a typo!) plus avionics, averaging about $32K. Just out of reach for a newly-hired, country schoolteacher, but affordable to most working Americans. The old, red 80/87 avgas and the new, blue 100LL avgas were going for 42 cents a gallon, too.
Flight schools and flying clubs would buy a new, IFR-equipped 172, and keep it for an average of 5,000 airframe hours, so factoring in the costs of amortization, maintenance, fuel, insurance, hangaring, and all the other costs, a typical rental price was $17.00/hour, wet, and they were probably just breaking even or even losing a bit.
By comparison, you could drive home in a new Chevrolet for less than $3,000, and your nice, new house with a garage for your new Chevrolet set you back about $36,000. If you stopped off at the grocery store on the way home from the airport, you probably picked up a week's worth of food for a family of four, and paid around $35.
So what happened?
Politicians, reluctant to admit their addiction to spending sprees (to buy votes), paid for their extravagance by printing more currency, with nothing but hot air to back it. The resulting devaluation has reduced the buying power of the 2010 US Dollar to about 10 cents by 1970 standards. That is roughly 1000% inflation over a period of 40 years, which works out to an average inflation rate of 5.9% annually. How can a piddling 5.9% add up to 1000%? Do the math: 1.059^40 = 10.02 or 1002%.
Wages have also gone up, but far more slowly. In 1970, the minimum wage was $1.60, compared to the 2010 minimum of $7.25 per hour. That works out to a 453% increase, which is less than half of the inflation rate. It is literally two steps forward and one step back.
To get back on topic, if you took a minimum wage job in 1970 to buy a new Skyhawk, and used all the proceeds (no taxes or deductions) you would have had to work 20,000 hours (1o years full-time) to pay for it. In 2012, you would have to flip those burgers for 42,714 hours which is over 21 years of full-time burger-flipping before you could climb aboard and roll down the runway.
Flying is a rich man's enterprise. If government-caused inflation continues to erode the value of the US Dollar, activities like eating may soon become the exclusive domain of the wealthy, too.
Please don't shoot the messenger...
My first aircraft was a new 1979 C-172 and I put 325 hours on it before I stepped up to a C-210. I agree with all said about it. My instrument instructor showed me the "glide for life" in the C-172 where you put in 3 cranks of trim and 40 degrees of flaps and pull the power off. If you wanted to you could take your hands off the yoke. As long as the firs thing you hit wasn't a brick wall you were assured you would walk away. While many managed to do it, my opinon was and is, it take effort to get hurt in a 172.
As an interesting side note, my plane cost me $32,000.00 and was IFR equipped. I know that this new 172 is a lot nicer in a lot of important ways, but almost 10 times the cost?
As a total aside, I would love to know why Cessna did not bring back the C-210. I owned two. In my humble opinion it was the best aircraft in its category by far. Great instrument platform. Great load carrier and fast.
Some of these comments make we wonder if we are talking about the same airplane.
I have owned my 66 172 since 1984.
The forward visibility over the nose is excellent.
I am 5-11 and I have no trouble looking for traffic out the left or right window.
The 6 cylinder starts easily and according to my friend with 20 years of Naval aviation under belt flying 14s , 15, 16s and going through Top Gun school and flying 747s for FedEx, it is an amazingly smooth piston engine.
Cost of acqusition is dirt cheap and the hourly cost of operation is low.
And it is the safest production airplane ever built.
No it isn't snazzy. Not real fast.
If there was a way to build a new airplane today cheaper someone else would be doing it.
With the cost of a building, utilities, payroll, insurance and government regulations, things cost what they cost.
I guess they could sell them for less than it costs to build them......for a while...
I have flown Skyhawks since 1976 and agree with all of Bob's comments. The first thing I love is the basic high-wing two-door design - a masterpiece of convenience and protection from the elements. Through the years I've been able to not only see the evolution of the equipment Bob mentioned, but feel the noticeable tweaks engineered into the controls that have given each model a better feel than the preceding one. My favorite model is the R not only for its superb comfort and feel, but because of its 2400 rpm redline. After flying the R exclusively for some hours, and then getting back into some older models and the newer SP, all with the 2700 rpm engine, I realized the R model was a much quieter aircraft. I was sold. While I'm passionate about the entire Cessna line, in my book, there is no other airplane new or used, and never will be, that is a better value for the money invested than the Cessna Skyhawk.
The price is due to one thing. The ridiculuos TSO requirements of equipment for use in certificated aircraft. Ever look on Aircraft Spruce at anything that comes in a TSO and a non-TSO version? The non-TSO version is about 1/5 the price of the TSO version. And they are probably the same device, except for the silly TSO stamp on the back plate. So why don't a buy a nice, cheap, advanced , Vans? Because I, like many, have neither the time, space, knowledge, or equipment to do the "some assembly required" bit. There ought to be a factory-built "uncertified" category of aircraft, which would have the same restrictions of kit planes, but be pre-assembled at factories like certificated aircraft are, for those who are fine with flying a kit plane but would trust Cessna or Piper rather than themselves building it. If the newest 172 came in such a "decertified" version, using non-TSO-d avionics like, say, a Vans would, I guestimate its cost would be about $80-100K. This comment applies to the currently in production version of the certificated aircraft brand of your choice.
I am one of few that did not learn to fly in a 172, however I regognize it as the world's best trainer. The thing that raises the possiblity of its' revelance is not the airframe, but rather the engine. We need an engine that produces 160-200 hp, weighs about the same and runs on unleaded gas. It would have few competitors if when you filled up fuel was $3.50 instead of $6.50. This is not a Cessna question, rather it is a engine manufacture challenge.
A couple comments:
"Their payload capability is decent too. You can fly with two big guys with full fuel or three big guys with some fuel left off. " That's like saying the Porsche 911 is "a four seater car, but make sure you have tiny passengers".
"Skyhawks climb pretty well too, about 700 fpm at sea level at max weight. These two things, payload and climbing ability, are a huge differentiator between the 172 and most two-seat trainers. They are, indeed, the two biggest reasons named by flight schools that choose to pay a premium to operate 172s instead of smaller airplanes."
Or of course you could say buy a Tecnam (i have no affiliation with the company let it be said), also carries 2 big guys (how often do you carry three big guys in typical flight school ops?) and climbs at 1100 fpm. Not to mention it runs on cheap gasoline as opposed to avgas.
All that at a fraction of the price of the Cessna.
Shorrick is right. And, you can see out of the Tecnam. And it has crisp controls.
I totally agree with Flyinb…I have a 2003 C172SP…paid $190K for her off the show room floor. In my opinion I think she's fun to fly, safe, stable, easy to land, total IFR equiped and gets me there faster than any highway for the cross country flights. Speed comes with price (Cirrus, Mooney, etc) so at the time, I thought I got my monies worth.
Now a new C172S is $350K? This is why no one buys new airplanes. Cessna and the other aircraft manufacturers are going to price themselves out of existance. And for flight schools…there is no way they are going to afford a $300K aiplane..they would have to charge $200/hour just to break even. So to help flight schools…they think...Cessna releases the Sky Catcher - C162 (LSA). They can't keep the price down without cutting into their profit, so they have the entire aircraft assembled in China with cheap labor, then shipped back to the US. It doesn't matter how much you change the avionics and paint jobs…it is still a 110 knot C172. I'd buy a used Cirrus for that kind of money before purchasing the same 'ol same 'ol. However, on a positive note…due to the outragous price on a new C172, the used C172 market should pick up dramatically.
Whereas I totally agree with flyinb regarding the ridiculous cost of the beast, I doubt very much the execs at Cessna are reading these comments, and even if they were it's a safe bet they'd be doing little more than smirking smugly over their martini glasses. So all we're really doing here is venting our frustrations over what seems to be just more corporate greed.
The article opens with a statement about the introduction of the 2012 C-172 models allaying fears that Cessna isn't behind the piston lineup. On the contrary, to me it seems only to further prove the point that Cessna is putting its eggs in the corporate jet basket and only building these little "bug smashers" as a sort of consiliatory nod to any affluent upstarts that would like to brag around the pilots' lounge about how much they can afford to spend on airplanes.
Cessna won't price themselves out of business with these idiotically expensive airplanes and for as long as there are idiots willing to pay that kind of money to get one, it's just a few extra bucks for Cessna to offset the cost of more incentives they may be able to pass along to their corporate jet customers.
Meanwhile the general aviation fleet of piston singles continues to age, but because of the glitzy ads in the aviation rags for multi-hundred-thousand-dollar airplanes the general perception of the rest of the public and our Washington politicians is that we are a bunch of rich playboys who can easily afford, and should rightfully be charged, such things as user fees at the rate of $100 per use of the airspace system.
Cessna may not price itself out of business but it's certainly contributing heavily to ordinary folks being priced out of their ability to fly freely within the country that was the birthplace of aviation. Forshame, Cessna.
I have watched the price of airplanes for over 30 years. The new (old) C172 at $307k is ridiculous and has priced most entry level buyers out of the market. The culprit here is not Cessna, they are the victim. The culprit is our over active congress and our greedy lawyers who have punished aircraft manufacturers at every turn. I am really surprised Cessna is still in business.
All this makes me wonder if Cessna would if asked display their cost of producing the C172. Without that fact all of the above is speculation.
Are their cost of manufacture really that high or are they one of those human types in America of what writer Dylan Ratigan's new book title called "Greedy Bastards" describes.
If that is actually true and they are bloating the cost unfairly to rip off America's pilots to fill their stockholders executive pockets then they truly are and this is what the Wall Street demonstrations are all about. The greedy 1%.
I bet we will never know the truth. Not in my lifetime in any case.
Thank you, W3BC, for your comments, submitted at the risk of inciting cries of "class warfare". So much stagnant wage growth alongside exponential gains for our wealthiest citizens are quickly turning GA into a much smaller and maybe doomed enterprise. It's time we acknowledged in a serious fashion these bigger issues in the context of growing GA.
Yes, W3Bc nailed it. Voting for the guy who promises to give you someone else's money. Or build librarys with the hiway trust fund or help poor people buy houses. And with the fourth branch of government. It doesn't mater who you vote for the proffesional bureaucrat protected by the union who has jacked up the average government salary to160K and is trying to justify their job by writing regulations to regulate the companies that they couldn't hold down a job with because they sucked are now in washington and they are going to teach us for thinking they were a bunch of over educated know it alls who couldn't do anything. Its the paper work that is choking us. What else would force some one to find a communist country easier to do bussiness in?
I'm training in a 172S (with round gauges), and I agree with that it's an excellent trainer. But I doubt that it'll be the plane I fly after I get my Private Pilot certificate, because I also agree with Thomas Boyle that the visibility is terrible. I'm 5'8" which I think is the national average for men. But I use a seat and back cushion because I can barely see over the nose without them. Poor visibility wasn't always a problem in 172s. Take a look at photo #7 in the Gallery, and you'll see that the 1956 edition had terrific forward visibility. What's more, Cessna knows how to design a cockpit so pilot and front-seat passenger can see: I've flown a new SkyCatcher 162, and the visibility in that plane is so much better than the 172 that it's an entirely different and better experience. The SkyCatcher's cockpit is much wider than the 172's as well. How ironic that Cessna's newest and smallest plane feels very much bigger than the current version of its oldest and actually bigger plane.
I've never commented more than once (rarely ever at all for that matter) on what I read in the media ...certainly not about my own "comments" but in this case a little follow-up on skycop56's input seems necessary. The $32,000 davidvscott paid for his IFR equipped C-172 in 1979 would be the equivalent to about $95,000 in today's dollars.
Now, tack on up to 50% more (an extremely conservative/generous amount) to account for the uncontrolled explosion of all the greed laden "Product Liability" suits many (airplane manufacturers) have had to endure these last few decades (The ONLY thing Cessna, Piper ect. can legitimately claim to have been "victimized" by) ...we should be looking at somewhere around $135 - 140,000 for our present day model.
Sorry to repeat myself, but don't forget, these airframes have remained essentially unchanged and they've looong since realized the return on their original R&D, tooling and misc. costs. But at only $300,000+ ?? ...even considering the overly simplistic math, that's still a pretty hefty (windfall) profit margin in anyone's book! Our unique, beloved vocation and sport is being ...and has long been "gouged" Feel sorry for Cessna?? ...They're (read; executive officers) are doing just fine! Unfortunately, they'll continue to do just fine even after they've run their company into the ground as well.
Most of Europe and all of present day Asia have no such thing as "General Aviation" ...solely because of the prohibitably expensive costs. Their citizens have been com ing here to pursue that dream we all have been taking for granted! Active participation in our wonderful world of" Flight" here in the USA has always been (relatively) on the expensive side, but up until now has remained the best (and only) place on the planet to do so. I'm afraid these greedy times we're a livin' and the exponential rate at which that expense is accelerating, will only serve to hasten the time when those final nails are driven.
Sorry for the rant ...last time on this subject, promise.
Don't forget that when it comes to the price the sales volume probably has some effect on the sales price. Back in the 1970's when Cessna was selling 5000 Skyhawk's a year (don't know the actual number but that sounds about right) the "economics of scale" would permit the company to spread it's costs over the volume, plan for more efficient manufacturing and allow the company to negotiate lower parts prices from its' vendors based on the higher volume thus allowing each customer to enjoy a lower purchase price.
In 2012 if they're only selling 200 a year then you have gone from being a high volume maker that could crank out and maintain a large, ready to sell inventory (with a nice fat military contract to boot), to being a hand crafted, boutique, only make it when someone orders it airplane maker.
That lower volume is (one) of the reasons that Ferrari's cost more than Chevy's . Which might help explain why 172's cost as much as Ferrari's, although in all fairness to Cessna there vehicles can operate in 3 dimensions where as the Ferrari's are limited to 2 unless you're a really bad driver.
Cessna" just doesn't get it" yet. The C172 was, and still is, a great airplane. I've had mine since the late 60s, and still would have no other, for what it does.
However for a new model, it is improved capability that matters, and better economy, or safety, and not just a new paint job or "eye-candy" avionics. Hence this new C172 model completely "strikes out".
My restored and slightly modified/updated 1962 Cessna 172C is just about as good as, if not even better than this new model, in many key respects, at a small fraction of the cost.
As an example, their new "optional EVS" is virtually useless in an aircraft like this, if not even a safety liability. EVS is a risky capability, primarily useful for military tactical or security missions, but not for any mission profile likely relevant for any C172.
The other avionics in this new model are also still just awful. They have horrid human interfaces, not coming close to the utility of a real FMS. Worse, this new C172 still can't fly (the new global ICAO standard) RNP trajectories, including VNAV, which I've been doing with a homespun application in my C172 for over five years now in, particularly in and out of my local island airstrip. They haven't even likely heard of GLS, which is vastly better than ILS, and is already in or planned for all new Airbusses and Boeings, which will likely be the eventual global standard, replacing expensive and vulnerable ILS, and could have already been available for a new model of a C172.
Cessna needs to wake up to what really matters for the future of General aviation, and for their new aircraft models, starting from from the Skycatcher and C172, thru the Citation series, or they will face an increasingly dismal future, and GA will also suffer more collateral damage as a result.
I wish them well, and hope they eventually get the picture.
(a family that has been a loyal Cessna fan [and once even a Cessna dealer] since the 1940s)
Everyone loves to write about what a great trainer the 172 is. Nonsense. Any "greatness" it possesses comes from its popularity, not its suitability for the task. The 172 is not a good basic trainer; it is far too forgiving. I fly new 172s all the time, but I'm really glad I didn't learn to fly in one.