The Cessna 152 and 172 are two of the most popular and classic airplanes in the world. Both are used for flight instruction and private use, though the 152 is the more popular due to it being the less expensive of the two to learn how to fly in.

If measured by its longevity and popularity, the Cessna 172 is arguably the most successful aircraft in history.

Both planes share some similarities along with a few key differences, including the size of the cockpit, safety records, their price, and overall performance.

Cessna 152


  • Role: Basic trainer, GA private aircraft
  • Manufacturer: Cessna
  • Introduction: 1977
  • Produced: 1977-1985
  • Number built: 7,584


General Specs

  • Crew: One
  • Capacity: One passenger (plus two children not exceeding 120 lb (54 kg) on optional baggage compartment bench seat)
  • Length: 24 ft 1 in (7.34 m)
  • Wingspan: 33 ft 4 in (10.16 m)
  • Height: 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)
  • Wing Area: 160 sq ft (15 m2)
  • Empty Weight: 1,081 lb (490 kg)
  • Gross Weight: 1,670 lb (757 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming O-235-L2C flat-4 engine, 110 hp (82 kW)
  • Propellers: 2-bladed fixed pitch, 69-inch (180 cm) McCauley or 72-inch Sensenich propeller

Performance Specs

  • Maximum Speed: 126 mph (203 km/h, 109 kn)
  • Cruise Speed: 123 mph (198 km/h, 107 kn)
  • Stall Speed: 49 mph (79 km/h, 43 kn) (power off, flaps down)
  • Range: 477 mi (768 km, 415 nmi)
  • Ferry Range: 795 mi (1,279 km, 691 nmi) with long-range tanks
  • Service Ceiling: 14,700 ft (4,500 m)
  • Rate of Climb: 715 ft/min (3.63 m/s)


  • A152 Aerobat
  • F152
  • FA152 Aerobat
  • C152 II
  • C152 T
  • C152 Aviat

Cessna 172


  • Role: Civil utility aircraft
  • Manufacturer: Cessna
  • First Flight: June 12, 1955
  • Introduction: 1956
  • Produced: 1956–1986, 1996–present
  • Number Built: 44,000+


General Specs

  • 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

Performance Specs

  • Cruise Speed: 122 kn (140 mph, 226 km/h)
  • Stall Speed: 47 kn (54 mph, 87 km/h) (power off, flaps down)[83]
  • Never Exceed Speed: 163 kn (188 mph, 302 km/h) (IAS)[8]
  • 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
  • 172 A-S
  • 172RG Cutlass
  • Reims FR172
  • R172K Hawk XP
  • Turbo Skyhawk JT-A
  • Electric-powered 172 (Non-Production)

Cessna 152 vs 172 Key Differences


The Cessna 152 and 172 are both very popular planes used for flight training and personal use, but the 152 is the plane that most aspiring pilots will get behind the cockpit in for flight training.

The Cessna 152 is small, economical and easy to fly, which has resulted in its ubiquitous appearance in flight schools across the country and world.

The Cessna 172 is the bigger of the two with its four-seat capacity, so is better for larger people, is particularly common for cross-country time building due to its faster speeds and capacity, and is the better family plane.


There’s no doubt that the Cessna 172 is more capable than the 152 with its higher maximum speed (140 mph vs. 126 mph), better range (696 nautical miles vs. 415 nautical miles), and higher service ceiling (14,700 ft vs. 13,500 ft).

The 172 is also the larger of the two, being able to carry up to four people, and is very easy to handle, especially when you consider its low stall speed (49 mph vs 54 mph).


Both the Cessna 152 and 172 are considered very safe planes, though the 172 is the winner when you take into account its very low fatality rate of 0.56 per 100,000 flying hours, which is the best in general aviation.

This is down to its sturdy and solid construction, excellent restraint systems, predictable and stable flight, and slow landing speed due to its well-equipped flaps.

The Cessna 152 is also very safe, though has been involved in more crashes. This could arguably be explained due to its popularity for flight instruction, which is when most crashes have occurred.

When it comes to fatalities, loss of control during takeoff and low-altitude maneuvering were leading causes, which could partially be explained by beginners flying the 152 and is not necessarily due to the plane itself.


Due to being the smaller of the two, the Cessna 152 inevitably has the smaller cockpit and is the reason why the 172 is more popular with larger students. A pilot kneeboard is definitely a must when flying the 152 due to its limited space.

The 152 has room for another person in the cockpit, but expect your shoulders to be rubbing as you fly, which certainly doesn’t lend itself well to longer flights. In comparison, the 172 has a four-seat capacity. While it can’t be called spacious, the flying experience will be more comfortable for everyone in the cockpit.


If you’re trying to decide whether to learn to fly in the Cessna 152 or 172, price can be a deciding factor. While the difference between the two is by no means huge, the 152 is the more economical option.

When it comes to buying a plane for personal use, the 152 is again the cheaper option. Expect to pay between $50,000 – 100,000 for a 152, 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.