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Key Takeaways

  • Cessna has three categories of planes to consider, piston-powered aircraft, turboprops, and jets.
  • Cessna does not manufacture commercial jets used by airlines.
  • Its largest passenger plane can carry up to fourteen passengers.
  • Its smallest aircraft carries two.

Cessna planes mean different things to different people. To most, it is a trainer. For others, it is the fastest commercial jet in the world.

The Cessna Aircraft Company designs and manufactures small to medium-sized aircraft for the commercial market. From the smallest, its Cessna 150, to its largest and fastest, the Cessna Citation Longitude, they represent a commitment to distinction in commercial aviation.

As an experienced pilot and flight instructor, I have spent thousands of hours in many different Cessna aircraft teaching students basic and advanced maneuvers, as well as ferrying my passengers across the country.

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The Cessna Aircraft Company

A Cessna is not just a trainer, nor is it just a fast private jet. It is an identity that describes a certain reputation The Cessna Aircraft Company has built over the last 95 years. Since the dawn of public aviation, Cessna has been at the forefront of innovation.

From its recognizable high-wing single-engine designs to its sleek multi-engine aircraft, Cessna has achieved what many had believed to be impossible.

Clyde Cessna, the founder of the company, advanced aviation by building better quality with lower price points, and better reliability with greater value by thinking outside the box in design and manufacturing.

Almost a century later, that desire for a better aircraft design, has resulted in models that are ubiquitous to flying around the world.

Single Engine Cessna Trainers

A Cessna plane is more than just a make and model. A Cessna plane is about the quality and reliability that comes in every model that rolls off the factory line. As a trainer, the Cessna Skyhawk is the most popular aircraft used around the world.

It easily carries two people, their flight bags, and fuel to train for the Private license or the instrument rating. Most flight schools, flying clubs, and FBOs have 172s on the line to rent.

Aside from the Skyhawk, the Cessna 150 and 152 are also popular. This is primarily because they are cheaper to operate, burn less fuel, and are easier to fly. It is a cost-effective alternative to the Cessna 172.

To get your Private Pilot’s License, the C152 would be a good choice and can cost you almost half of what it would cost you if you used a C172 as your training vehicle.

Once you have your Private Pilot’s License in the C152, you could then go on to the C172 for the instrument rating as most flight schools have well-equipped C172 and are stable platforms to conduct your instrument training.

From there, if you proceed to do your commercial rating, then you would want to upgrade to either a 172 RG or a Cessna Skylane. The Skylane, otherwise known as the Cessna 182 RG, is a complex aircraft with variable pitch prop and retractable landing gear.

While not all your maneuvers for the Commercial pilot’s license require competence in complex aircraft, it is better to place your entire training in the Skylane so that you get familiar with the process flow of more advanced systems.

It will also be a good transition from the C172 because the two aircraft have similar flight characteristics and you will find the cockpit laid out in the same way with just a few additions.

Multi-Engine Cessna Trainers

A typical Part 61 student then goes on to get his or her multi-engine rating. Cessna has a wide range of multi-engine aircraft to choose from. A good option though is the Cessna 310.

The Cessna 310 is a powerful aircraft with an easy demeanor. Its two Continental IO-520 engines put out 285 horsepower each, giving you a feel for what it feels like to fly faster, more powerful machines.

The 310 is a stable and reliable platform to conduct all your instrument procedures, as well as single-engine approaches. They are easy to handle, giving you just the right amount of workout when doing single-engine procedures. And in cruise, they are easy to handle, and a pleasure to fly.

Once you have your commercial training, if you would like to take your game up another level, you should get into the Cessna 340. It is tempting to say that the two aircraft handle in the same way, but there are some differences you should be aware of.

Aside from being a slightly heavier aircraft, the 340 is also an entry-level pressurized aircraft with a service ceiling of almost 30,000 feet. It is a good platform to learn about pressurization systems and incorporate a new procedural flow into your cockpit management.

Cessna Turboprop Aircraft

Your next ascent would be into a Cessna aircraft that is driven by a turboprop. Cessna has two of these but it is highly unlikely that they are available for rent. They are superior aircraft built tough and meant to do hard work.

You can find a lot of these flying the Tundra and parts of Alaska where it takes a whole different breed of plane and pilot to navigate.

The single-engine Cessna turboprop is the Cessna Caravan. You also find a number of these in the Caribbean, hopping across islands. The Cessna Caravan has a thousand nautical mile range, with the ability to ferry fourteen passengers and land within 1700 feet.

It also has a service ceiling of 25,000 feet. And it's just a single-engine aircraft, so it has a slightly better range than the SkyCourier of 1000 nautical miles.

Cessna also makes a twin-engine turboprop. The Cessna SkyCourier. Cessna makes these in two variations, a cargo version, and a passenger version.

The passenger version of the SkyCourier can take up to nineteen passengers and fly at a top speed of 210 ktas at a service ceiling of 25,000 feet with a range of 863 nautical miles,

Cessna also makes a cargo version of this model. The reasoning is the same as its single-engine turboprop model, the Caravan. By swapping out the seats of the aircraft, its empty eight changes and the max payload weight increases as well.

Cessna Jets

Cessna makes six jets for the private jet market. They are all part of the Citation fleet and are differentiated by speed and range. Three of the six models are considered entry level jets. They are considerably smaller and used for shorter hops than their larger counterparts.

The smallest of the range is the Citation M2 which can carry 7 passengers over 1500 nautical miles. It has a top speed of 400 ktas and a service ceiling of 41,000 feet.

A slightly larger Citation is the CJ3+ which allows you up to 45,000 feet and is a little quicker at 434 ktas. It has a payload of 2100 pounds.

The next one up from there is the Citation CJ4 which cruises at 454 ktas with a range of 2100 nautical miles. It has a service ceiling of 45,000 feet.

These are the three small private jets of the Citation series. Cessna also has three large jets in the Citation series. The smallest of the three large ones is the Citation XLS.

It is the second generation of this range and carries 7540 lbs of useful weight, with room for nine passengers. It has a maximum range of 2100 nautical miles and a maximum cruise speed of 441 ktas.

The next one up is the Citation Latitude which can carry 9 passengers in luxury. The Latitude has a 2700 nautical mile range and a max cruise speed of 446 ktas.

And finally, there is the Citation Longitude that has a top speed of 476 kias, and can carry 8 passengers in ultimate luxury. The goal of this aircraft is not to jam-pack it with people, but to give the select few a comfortable ride.

Even the upholstery in the cockpit is of higher quality as are the avionics package that comes standard.

It is not just a model since Cessna makes a wide range of models in different categories. When people talk about a Cessna plane, not only could they be referring to what is made by the manufacturer, but more likely, they are referring to what the essence of the plane is.

Cessna planes are made for anyone who wishes to fly, offering an entry-level aircraft to get one’s feet wet, to a large luxurious jet that cradles its passengers in the lap of luxury as it breaks speed records crossing the Atlantic, or across the continent. While one is the humble 152 and the other, the mighty Citation Longitude, they are both Cessnas.

A Cessna plane, regardless of model, is a plane of high quality, superior performance, and sensible economics. Whether a props spin in front of it, or a jet rockets it down the runway, a Cessna is a Cessna for the quality of build, attention to passenger and pilot needs, and the economy of ownership.