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The most popular airplane in the world among private pilots and enthusiasts is the Cessna 172 Skyhawk. Here’s how much it costs to own and operate.
If you’re in the market for an airplane, then chances are high you’re looking at a Cessna 172 Skyhawk as one of your top options. There are a lot of things that make the Cessna 172 such a popular aircraft, with its purchase price being one of the main reasons — especially for a 4 seater. Here’s the complete cost to own and operate one.
A Cessna 172 Skyhawk costs around $40,000 - $50,000 used or $400,000 to buy new. Besides the price, fixed costs total about $800 to $5,000 per year for insurance, hangar fees, and regular maintenance. Variable costs, like fuel and engine overhauls, cost roughly $50 to $60 per hour of flight time.
Buying a Cessna 172 Skyhawk is not the end when it comes to how much you have to pay for it. Sure, the purchase price will likely be the single biggest price you ever have to pay while you own the plane, but there are other costs involved that pop up throughout the time you own it. In this article, we’re going to take a look at all of the main fixed and variable costs associated with owning a Cessna 172.
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Costs Involved In Owning & Operating A Cessna 172 Skyhawk
The costs to own and operate a Cessna 172 Skyhawk are much the same as the costs involved in owning and operating a Cessna of any kind. For all intents and purposes, these costs are divided into two main categories — fixed costs and variable costs. All airplanes have fixed and variable costs of ownership, so this is no surprise. Let’s look at each of these categories in-depth.
Fixed Costs Of Owning A Cessna 172 Skyhawk
Fixed costs are the costs that don’t really change over time. Another way to think about these types of costs is that no matter how often you fly your Cessna 172, you’ll still have to pay for these things. So even if you don’t manage to get the time to take even one flight during a year, or you put in 1,000 hours of flight time, these costs will stay roughly the same.
The most common fixed costs associated with owning and flying a Cessna 172 include the purchase price, insurance, hangar fees, regular maintenance, and inspections.
Cessna 172 Skyhawk Purchase Price
The average purchase price for a new Cessna 172 Skyhawk is around $370,000 to $425,000 or more. However, the price can vary depending on the year, model, and location of purchase. Even though it was first released way back in 1956, the Cessna 172 is still being produced today, so you can pick up a new one if you have the means to do so. That said, you will almost always get much better value out of a Cessna 172 if you buy a used model.
If you opt to buy an older, used Cessna 172, you can expect to pay significantly less, around just $40,000 to $50,000 or so. At pretty much any time, you can find used Cessna 172 airplanes for sale on Trade A Plane that are ready to fly within this price range.
Also keep in mind that if you finance your plane, the purchase price is not the final price that you pay. With a loan, you’ll also have to pay interest to the bank or lender that you use, so your monthly or yearly costs will end up totaling much more than the sticker price of the Cessna.
Insurance Cost For A Cessna 172 Skyhawk
The cost of aircraft insurance can also vary depending on the amount of coverage you want, your location, and the company that you choose to go with. For liability-only coverage, you can expect to pay around $150-$250 per year. Just like liability coverage on your car, this only covers the cost of damage you do to other property in the event of an accident, not the plane itself.
If you want full coverage, you’ll have to pay much more for insurance and the cost will heavily depend on the value of the plane. For a used Cessna 172 with about $50,000 in value, insurance will likely cost you $500 - $1,000 per year. If you have a brand new Cessna, expect to pay thousands of dollars each year just for insurance.
Cost To Store A Cessna 172 Skyhawk
The cost of hangar fees can vary depending on the location and who you’re renting a hangar space from. In some cases, you may be able to find a hangar for around $50 to $200 per month to sublet from a hangar owner. If you choose to rent directly from the airport, you can pay up to $400 per month or more for hangar rental.
For more detailed information on hangar costs, check out our full cost analysis where we take an in-depth look at the cost of renting, buying, or building a hangar of your own.
Regular Maintenance & Inspection Costs For A Cessna 172 Skyhawk
When I saw regular maintenance here, I’m not explicitly talking about oil changes, which is what many people seem to think of. Here, I’m referring to the average cost of maintenance that really stacks up over time. On a Cessna 172, the average annual cost for maintenance will be around $500 to $800. More often than not, this will come in a bigger bill once every few years rather than a steady annual cost, so keep that in mind.
As far as inspections go, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandates that airplanes get inspected every year for airworthiness. For a Cessna 172, this costs about $1,575 per year.
Variable Costs Of Owning A Cessna 172 Skyhawk
On the opposite side of the coin, there are also variable costs involved in owning and flying a Cessna 172. These costs are the ones that tend to increase the more you fly your plane. So unlike fixed costs, if you don’t manage to take to the skies during the year, then you likely won’t have to pay much when it comes to variable costs.
The variable costs associated with owning and flying a Cessna 172 include fuel, oil changes, and major expenses like an engine overhaul.
Fuel Costs For A Cessna 172 Skyhawk
The cost of fuel is a major factor in the overall cost to own and fly a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. The price of avgas (100LL) has increased significantly over the past few years and shows no signs of decreasing any time soon. It costs nearly $5 per gallon and a Cessna 172 burns about 8.5 gallons of fuel per hour. So in fuel costs alone, flying your Skyhawk costs about $40 to $50 per hour, on average, depending on the price of fuel.
So how can you save on fuel costs? Here are a few tips:
- Plan ahead and optimize your route to minimize distance flown
- Fly during off-peak hours when airports are less busy
- Use aeronautical charts to find the most efficient route
- Look for fuel discounts at FBOs (fixed base operators)
Some of these tips aren’t exactly applicable on every flight, but it’s worth doing what you can to save on fuel costs!
Oil Changes For A Cessna 172 Skyhawk
The cost of an oil change for a Cessna 172 Skyhawk is typically around $200. This includes the cost of the oil, the labor to change it, and the disposal fee. However, this price can vary depending on where you get your airplane serviced. Some places may charge more while others may offer discounts for purchasing bulk oil. It's important to shop around and find the best deal for your needs.
If you’re capable of changing the oil yourself, you can save on all of the labor costs and only have to pay for the oil and filter, which is more like $50 to $60. The first time you do it you might need to buy some other things, like a drain pan or oil drum, but then you’ll have those items practically forever and it’s just the cost of the oil from there!
Cessna 172 Engine Overhaul Costs
The cost to overhaul a Cessna 172 Skyhawk engine is about $15,000 to $18,000. This price includes the removal and replacement of the engine, all new parts including an overhauled crankshaft, cylinders, pistons and bearings, as well as labor.
This isn’t a cost you have to pay every year or anything like that. On average, the Continental engine that powers a Cessna 172 has a time between overhauls (TBO) of about 1,800 to 2,000 hours. So if we take the estimated overhaul cost and divide it by the number of hours it should last, the engine costs about $7.50 -$10.00 per hour of flight time.
So just factor this cost into how often you plan to fly per year and you should have an idea of what this will cost you. The more you fly, the more often you’ll need to overhaul the engine and incur this cost. But flying is so worth it!