The Cessna Aircraft Company manufactures three types of fixed-wing aircraft that vary in capability and weight. So, how much does a Cessna weigh?
Well, it depends on the model, its equipment, how much cargo it’s carrying, the weight of the passengers on board, and how much usable fuel it has at any given time. Each of these factors gives rise to different performance characteristics and dictates its mission parameters.
As an MEII, I know how complicated getting a handle on the various weights can be. So that is where we will start, before comparing the performance aspects of the Cessna fleet.
Here is where we begin to see that the answer to how much does a Cessna weigh? is actually more than just a simple number. A quick preview of all the important weight parameters.
Empty Weight (EW)
For purposes of answering the question, how much does a Cessna weigh? an aircraft’s empty weight only includes the weight of the airframe, its installed equipment, the engine, the oil in it, and any fuel in the tanks that can’t be removed.
Basic Operating Weight (BOW)
BOW includes the weight of items necessary to make the aircraft operational. In this case, it’s just the addition of the pilot(s) depending on the certification of the aircraft. A C-150 just requires one. A Cessna Latitude, on the other hand, requires two.
For a commercial airliner, it would also include the cabin crew.
How much does a Cessna weigh? Well, as we keep adding the different parameters, we start to see that the answer is dependent on the type, model, configuration, and state.
It is also customary to describe BOWs as dry or wet. As one would imagine, dry means it is the BOW without fuel, and wet means with full fuel.
Maximum Take-off Weight (MTOW)
How much does a Cessna weigh?
Well if we are looking at the weight to understand the limitations on take-off, then the MTOW is the parameter we have to look at. The MTOW is a limitation on the total weight of the aircraft taking into account powerplant ability and aerodynamics. It also includes external conditions like density altitude and runway length.
Putting together its EW, its pilot and crew, its fuel, and its payload, the aircraft must not go beyond MTOW. It is both unsafe and illegal to do so.
For a C-150, the MTOW is 1600lb. In comparison, a Cessna Latitude has an MTOW of 39,500 lbs.
When asking how much does a Cessna weigh? What is usually left out is the amount of revenue-generating load. Fuel is not revenue-generating, and neither are the pilots and crew. And, neither are the luggage carried by the crew.
Only passengers, cargo, and luggage that can be billed, if you were so approved to do so, should be considered as payload.
Even if you are a private pilot, think of payload as a commuter or cargo pilot. If you can’t charge someone for it, it’s not a payload.
Maximum Ramp Weight (MRW)
Not many people are thinking of ramp weight when they pose the question, how much does a Cessna weigh? This is more so for single and multi-engine pilots flying a Cessna than it is for a pilot flying a Cessna jet.
The MRW for every aircraft is typically a little higher than its MTOW. The reasoning for this is simple. The extra weight is usually allocated to the fuel needed to taxi from start-up to the point of taking off.
Max Landing Weight (MLW)
Max Landing weight is a limitation placed for structural reasons. It assumes that much of the fuel has been burned off for a flight. In an emergency, pilots are not able to return to land, but rather need to either burn the fuel above the Max Landing Weight or dump the fuel.
This is not what is referred to when one asks how much does a Cessna weigh?
Aircraft Gross Weight (AGW)
Finally, we come to the AGW. Is this what they refer to when they ask how much does a Cessna weigh?
Perhaps. The AGW is a generic term to refer to the weight of the aircraft at any phase of operation. If you were to stop the aircraft in its tracks and weigh it at any given moment, whatever its weight right then is the AGW.
Weights of Cessna’s Most Popular Aircraft
Single Engine Aircraft
Looking at the spectrum of weights for the most popular single-engine aircraft Cessna makes, we are now able to answer the question, how much does a Cessna weigh? From an MTOW of 1600 lbs for a C150 to 8000lbs for a Caravan, we begin to get a glimpse into Cessna’s range of offerings.
While many operators are interested in payload weights when they ask how much does a Cessna weigh? On its own, the number does not paint a clear picture. Just because a C-182 carries 516 lbs of payload and a C-150 only carries 489 lbs, does not automatically mean the 182 is a better aircraft.
Weights only paint part of the picture. Cost, mission, and range are also things to consider. Therefore, the question of how much does a Cessna weigh is merely the point of departure for assessing the utility of a particular model.
Weights and Use
How much does a Cessna weigh? is a simple question to determine the weight, but in reality, when engineers and pilots get to know an aircraft, weights are synonymous, in their minds, with the plane’s functionality.
Looking at two weights of a C150, MEW and MTOW, it becomes obvious that the C150 is not as great a cargo aircraft as it is one to just go for joy rides or train in the basic maneuvers of flying.
On the other hand, looking at the 210, the significant payload and MTOW tell a prospective owner that the 210’s mission is not merely to train, but that it is best used to transport payload.
Twin Engine Aircraft
When it comes to multi-engine aircraft, asking how much does a Cessna weigh? takes on a slightly different shade. Notice there is now a zero fuel weight included in the table. Higher performance aircraft tend to have this added limitation.
It is a structural consideration, more so than an aerodynamic one. When there is too much weight concentrated in the fuselage, there is more stress on the wing spars as the flight progresses.
A complex, high-performance pilot is more concerned about structural and stability issues and will look at the zero fuel weight carefully in planning his flight.
Weights and Use
How much does a Cessna weigh? now takes on a deeper meaning. When it comes to twins, especially Cessnas, the payload, and MTOW number paints a slightly different picture.
Larger take-off weights allow for greater range, while higher ZFWs allow for increased payload.
*All weights in pounds.
** Weights vary with each aircraft. Please consult your POH for weight data on your aircraft.
When asking how much does a Cessna weigh? There are two new points to consider here. Notice how jets have a larger difference between the ramp and take-off weights. This is usually because jets burn more fuel on the ground than their piston counterparts and so need more fuel to make the taxi.
The other factor to consider is that there are significantly higher zero fuel weights as a ratio of payload when it comes to jets. This is attributed to the fact that jets are not designed so much for cargo as they are for the carriage and comfort of their select passengers.
Weights and Use
How much does a Cessna weigh? now takes on yet a different meaning in the context of a jet. Pilots are typically looking at MTOW here since most private jet pilots are looking to maximize range and payload. Being a cross-country or intercontinental flight, pilots are looking to tweak the numbers and balances as much as possible.
Because each aircraft comes with everything from different seats, different avionic packages, and additional add-ons, it is easy to realize that each aircraft would have its own unique weight.
This is why every aircraft has its own certified weight and balance information kept in the plane to remain airworthy. The moment you swap out the old com panel and put in a shiny new one, the aircraft has to get reweighed and balanced.
When asking how much does a Cessna weigh, what we are really trying to determine is the max gross weight of the aircraft with fully loaded fuel and cargo. Well, at least that is what I am talking about when I ask the question.
But just keep in mind a general question such as how much a Cessna weighs is dependent on the context in which it is mentioned. And the answer is, typically, that it depends.
While most general aviation pilots forget this, it is worth remembering that landing weight and take-off weight differ in some cases. This is especially true for larger aircraft. For commercial jetliners, the MTOW and MLW are so far apart that an emergency soon after take-off requires the aircraft to fly out to an uninhabited area and dump enough fuel to bring the weight down.
About THE AUTHOR
After spending years watching every video I could find about flying, I finally scratched the itch and got my pilots license. Now I fly every chance I get, and share the information I learn, here.Read More About Joe Haygood