The Cessna 150 and 172 are similar in many ways, especially when it comes to the general configuration of each plane with their high braced wing, twin forward-hinged doors, tricycle, same flight-control surface arrangement, tricycle landing gear with steerable nose wheel, and fuel tanks in the wings.
There are also a few key differences between the 150 and 172, including each plane’s performance, safety, main purpose, and price.
Table of Contents
- Role: Light utility aircraft, basic trainer
- Manufacturer: Cessna
- First flight: September 12, 1957
- Introduction: 1956
- Produced: 1958–1977
- Number built: 23,839
- Crew: one
- Capacity: one passenger (plus two children not exceeding 120 lb (54 kg) on optional bench seat in baggage space)
- Length: 23 ft 11 in (7.29 m)
- Wingspan: 33 ft 2 in (10.11 m)
- Height: 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)
- Wing area: 160 sq ft (15 m2)
- Airfoil: NACA 2412
- Empty weight: 1,122 lb (509 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 1,600 lb (726 kg)
- Fuel capacity: 22.5 US gal (18.7 imp gal; 85 L) usable internal fuel
- Powerplant: 1 × Continental O-200-A air-cooled horizontally-opposed engine, 100 hp (75 kW)
- Propellers: 2-bladed McCauley metal fixed-pitch propeller, 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) diameter
- Maximum speed: 109 kn (125 mph, 202 km/h) at sea level
- Cruise speed: 82 kn (94 mph, 152 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,050 m) (econ cruise)
- Stall speed: 42 kn (48 mph, 78 km/h) (flaps down, power off)
- Never exceed speed: 140 kn (160 mph, 260 km/h)
- Range: 420 nmi (480 mi, 780 km) (econ cruise, standard fuel)
- Service ceiling: 14,000 ft (4,300 m)
- Rate of climb: 670 ft/min (3.4 m/s)
- Take-off run to 50 ft (15 m): 1,385 ft (422 m)
- Landing run from 50 ft (15 m): 1,075 ft (328 m)
- FRA150L Aerobat
- Role: Civil utility aircraft
- Manufacturer: Cessna
- First flight: June 12, 1955
- Introduction: 1956
- Produced: 1956–1986, 1996–present
- Number built: 44,000+
- Crew: 1
- Capacity: 3 passengers
- Length: 27 ft 2 in (8.28 m)
- Wingspan: 36 ft 1 in (11.00 m)
- Height: 9 ft 4 in (2.84 m)
- Wing area: 174 sq ft (16.2 m2)
- Empty weight: 1,970 lb (894 kg)
- Gross weight: 2,450 lb (1,111 kg)
- Fuel capacity: 56 US gallons (212 litres)
- Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming IO-360-L2A four cylinder, horizontally opposed aircraft engine, 160 hp (120 kW)
- Propellers: 2-bladed metal, fixed pitch
- Cruise speed: 122 kn (140 mph, 226 km/h)
- Stall speed: 47 kn (54 mph, 87 km/h) (power off, flaps down)
- Never exceed speed: 163 kn (188 mph, 302 km/h) (IAS)
- Range: 696 nmi (801 mi, 1,289 km) with 45 minute reserve, 55% power, at 12,000 ft
- Service ceiling: 13,500 ft (4,100 m)
- Rate of climb: 721 ft/min (3.66 m/s)
- Wing loading: 14.1 lb/sq ft (68.6 kg/m2)
- 172 A-S
- 172RG Cutlass
- Reims FR172
- R172K Hawk XP
- Turbo Skyhawk JT-A
- Electric-powered 172 (Non-Production)
Cessna 150 vs 172 Key Differences
Both the Cessna 150 and 172 are used for flight training, but the 150 is the much more popular of the two for this purpose.
While the 172 is used for flight training, especially when it comes to larger individuals looking for a more comfortable experience and for cross-country time building, it is more popular with private plane owners. It makes the perfect plane for a small family with its four-seat capacity.
Unsurprisingly, the Cessna 172 has the better performance of the two, with its higher cruise speed (140 mph vs 94 mph) and better range (696 nautical miles vs. 420 nautical miles).
The 172 is the more stable and heavier aircraft and requires more force to do the same maneuvers. It also holds altitude better and is better suited to rougher, higher winds.
The Cessna 172 is an exceptionally safe plane due to its sturdy and solid construction, excellent restraint systems, predictable and stable flight, and slow landing speed due to its well-equipped flaps.
In fact, the Cessna 172 has the lowest fatality rate in all of general aviation at 0.56 per 100,000 flying hours.
The Cessna 150 is also safe and more or less fares the same as other similarly light aircraft. However, it definitely has a worse safety record than the 172, though this can partly be explained by its main use by beginner pilots.
For the Cessna 150, leading causes of fatalities include loss of control during takeoff and low-altitude maneuvering.
If there’s one word to describe the cockpit of the 150, it would be cramped. The Cessna 150 may be a very popular plane for flight instruction, but it is so cramped that larger students have no choice but learning to fly in the more spacious 172.
Even average-sized students will find that their shoulders will be rubbing with their instructor when in the cockpit. While using a pilot kneeboard can be more down to preference, using one is a must when flying in the 150.
There’s no doubt that learning to fly in the Cessna 150 is cheaper than the 172, especially as even a small difference can soon add up considering that a minimum of 40 hours is required for a private pilot license.
When it comes to buying outright, you can expect to pay between $25,000 and $50,000 for a Cessna 150, and $100,000 – 200,000 for a 172 in similar condition.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.