Cessna 162 Guide and Specs : Is It The Best Training Aircraft?

Introduction

Cessna is renowned for its classic designs and quality aircraft dating from its beginning in 1927; creating the best in performance and operation, Cessna became a household name among many pilots and their families. 

While Cessna has had its many successes, there have also been its occasional mishaps. The Cessna 162 was destined for greatness but fell short on its way to the top of the ladder. 

The Cessna 162 was named the Skycatcher, a two-seater with high wings and tricycle gear. Classified as a light-sport aircraft, it was designed and produced between 2009 and 2013 for training and personal flying missions. 

In October of 2012, the CEO of Cessna, Scott Ernest, proclaimed that the Cessna 162 had no future. Once this decision was made, Cessna stopped offering the 162, and as of January 2014, the Skycatcher aircraft was removed from the official Cessna website. 

Only 192 aircraft were sold, and the rest became parts before they were scrapped. Its rarity is its biggest downfall, as it is otherwise considered an exceptional training aircraft. 

Cessna 162 / Model Specs

Cessna

Designed as a trainer and for personal use, the Cessna 162 was created to be a top-of-the-line tool for flight instruction and leisure flying. 

The Skycatcher sits two people comfortably in side-by-side seating and has a dual control system. Only one pilot is required, and the copilot seat can be reserved for a passenger or flight instructor.

The length of the aircraft is only 22.8 feet, making it slightly shorter than a Cessna 150. Combined with a wingspan of 30 feet and a height of 8.53 feet, this compact aircraft is easy to park and can fit in a standard-sized hangar. 

The aircraft has a gross weight of 1320 lbs and an empty weight of 839 lbs, leaving 490 lbs for fuel, passengers, bags, and other variables. While the 162 prefers to be on the lighter side and is easier to control with less weight, it is still possible for a single pilot to bring their necessary gear. Check out our guide on the best pilot gear here.

The Cessna 162 can carry up to 24 gallons of fuel and runs on 100ll aviation-grade fuel. While it may not be much in the tanks, avgas can be purchased at most airports, making it possible to complete long cross countries when pilots are looking to build some time. On one tank, the Cessna 162 can fly for just over 3 hours.

The Skycatcher has a Continental O-200 engine, air-cooled and pushing 100 horsepower. These engines are common in Cessnas and are easy to maintain, as parts are widely available and many mechanics have experience working with them. 

Cessna 162/ Model Prices

Due to their desire to create a smaller aircraft, Cessna intended for the price to be under $100,000 USD. Even with Cessna predicting to sell approximately 600 Skytcatchers a year, the low price was hard to achieve.

The summary of the sales indicated that by 2007 it would not be possible to reach this price goal. The first 1000 aircraft that were pre-ordered were priced at under $109,500, and the ones ordered afterward were higher. By 2012 the Cessna 162 was priced for over $112,000, to the shock of many potential buyers. 

With the addition of more features, such as glass displays, sun visors, and improved radios, the price was increased even further in 2011. Now with a cost of up to $149,000, many news outlets expressed concern with the high price of the aircraft. 

With such a high price increase, the media shamed the company for creating an aircraft so unreasonable priced. Americans argued that an aircraft built in China should not have such a high price point. As a lot of the increases were due to Cessna generating more profit rather than the aircraft receiving improvements, it was not well received. 

The large price of the aircraft made it more expensive than many other models in its class and resulted in many possible owners with deposits on the airplane withdrawing their money and deciding to invest in something else. 

Cessna 162/ Performance and Handling

Cessna air

For a two-seater trainer, the Cessna 162 is equipped with a state-of-the-art interior and all-new components. Considering its price point and reputation, how does it actually do in flight?

The Skycatcher has a maximum cruise speed of 118 knots, approximately 135 miles per hour. Normal cruise speed tends to be closer to 109 knots, or 125 miles per hour. Although this may be on the slower side, it is preferable for training uses or for those who wish to spend more time in the air.

While having a 100 horsepower engine, the Cessna 162 is on the quicker side of most 100 horsepower aircraft, considering the popular Cessna 150 with a Lycoming engine carries 110 horsepower and has a max cruise speed of only 110 knots.   

The Cessna 162 has a range of 540 miles. That number can change, depending on the weather providing a headwind or tailwind, weight, and density altitude on that day. 

The Skycatcher certainly packs a punch when it comes to its altitude restrictions. With a service ceiling of 15,500 feet, supplemental oxygen will be required before the pilot and passenger even reach that height. 

The rate of climb of the Cessna 162 averages at 890 feet per minute. This allows a short climb out on small runways with obstacles such as buildings or towers at the end. A fast climb out allows the aircraft to fly into smaller airports and take advantage of their amenities. The rate of climb is dependant on winds and temperature, so it’s important to calculate your takeoff distance and climb before attempting to depart off of a short runway. 

The Skycatcher has a landing distance of 671 feet, making it a great fit for smaller airports. Landing distance can be increased or decreased depending on the weather and the experience of the pilot.

Cessna 162/ Model Maintenance Schedule

Because of its youth, the Cessna 162 has yet to develop any issues that come with age. As a result, maintenance tends to be light, save for the usual annual and the mandatory service bulletin from 2012.

The annual must be completed once a year on the aircraft. The aircraft is taken to an AMO or AME, who will completely examine the aircraft. All inspection panels and removable pieces are taken out of the aircraft and are thoroughly inspected. 

The plane is stripped of its interior, and the engine is closely examined. Once the aircraft passes the inspection, it is put back online after being signed off by those who completed the work. 

In December of 2012, a mandatory service bulletin came out. New wing ribs and modifications were required to the first 228 Skycatchers. Cessna had discovered cracks in their test aircraft and paid to have the replacements done on the required aircraft, as they needed to be complete within 100 hours or by the next annual. 

Cessna 162/ Modifications and Upgrades

Cessna Inside

While the 162 will forever be an uncommon aircraft, not many owners have completed any upgrades. However, Cessna is an old brand, and there are many possible popular upgrades that can be completed on the 162. 

Any upgrades must be approved by the FAA and an STC must be available before the modifications are put underway. 

Some owners might consider engine modifications or upgrades to provide more power to their aircraft. While more power is often more desirable, it can also result in more fuel burn, so it is important to consider the repercussions of an upgrade. 

Propellor upgrades are also popular among aircraft owners. While the Cessna 162 has a standard prop that has no STC, it could be a possible option in the future to install something from a different material or with more blades. 

Installing larger fuel tanks is a lengthy and difficult process for any aircraft, but some owners might wish to have that done in the future, and it is a common upgrade for many Cessnas. 

Cessna 162/ Where to Find Replacement Parts

Because it is a relatively new aircraft, with so few that made it off the production line, many owners have mentioned their difficulties when it comes to finding replacement parts. 

The engine, in this case, is not an issue. With the common Continental O-200, finding parts for the engine is not a problem. Parts can be purchased new or used through the internet or through catalogs. 

Websites such as Univair or Aircraft Spruce are often used when it comes to purchasing new aircraft parts. Used parts can be found on Cessna forums, online through Barnstormers or on eBay, or through word of mouth. Because the Continental engines are so common, their parts are more affordable as well as easy to come by. 

However, when it comes to finding parts for the Cessna 162 itself, things can become rather difficult. With only 275 aircraft built, and even less making it out onto the field, it has become increasingly hard to find parts for the aircraft. 

The most likely way to find parts would be used, off of a 162 that has had an accident or has been abandoned, and will become scrap and parts for the remaining aircraft. 

Cessna 162/ Model Common Problems

Cessna Aircraft

Being so young compared to older 150 and 152 models, the Cessna 162s problems lie in finding parts and their performance. 

With so few 162s out in the world, parts are a rarity and are increasingly difficult to find as the years go by. This deters many possible owners and flight schools looking to invest in these training aircraft. 

Because of its size and light characteristics, the 162 is a very slow aircraft despite its speed for its category. This doesn’t appeal to many private owners who are looking for an aircraft to do $100 hamburger runs and family trips. 

The 162 is not the most stable aircraft. Being designed as a light aircraft and a trainer, it can be difficult to handle and frustrating for a new pilot who is looking to build some time in a steady plane. 

The price point was the biggest downfall of the Cessna 162. With its small size, low power, and slow speed it was not the first choice for most American buyers. Considering a used Cessna 172 in good condition can be had for much less, and even schools were not interested in converting their training fleet into a group of expensive 162s. 

Cessna 162/ Insurance Options

Aircraft owners have two options when it comes to ensuring their aircraft. Liability insurance covers the pilot, passengers, and possible property damage. Hull insurance covers damages to the aircraft itself. 

Some insurance companies provide the option for not-in-motion hull insurance. This gives the aircraft hull insurance, but only while it is stationary on the ground. 

The cost of insurance is dependant on the type of aircraft and the experience of the pilot flying it. Just as car insurance is cheaper for an older driver, a more experienced pilot with time on the same type of aircraft will have a lower insurance cost. 

Experienced pilots are considered those who have their private pilot license, a minimum of 200 hours, and at least 25 hours on the Cessna 162. 

According to bwifly.com, there have been 8 insurance carriers who quote for the Cessna 162 in 2021. 

With a $1,000,000 policy, experienced pilots with the minimum requirements can expect a premium between $850 and $1050 a year for liability-only coverage. Pilots without the recommended experience can expect a policy between $675 and $950 a year. 

If the owner wants to include hull coverage, it is possible to purchase a $78,000 policy. Pilots who are qualified and meet the requirements can expect a premium between $1200 and $2800 a year, while those who do not meet the requirements can expect between $2950 and $6700 a year. 

Insurance can decrease over time as the experience of the pilot in the aircraft type is increased and there are no claims made on the policy. 

Cessna 162/ Model Resale Value

Considering their new cost deterred many potential owners, the price of the Cessna 162 has significantly decreased over the years. Since the aircraft is uncommon and parts are hard to find, its value has fallen more quickly than its previous siblings. 

The shape of the aircraft and its total time since new, as well as the time on the engine and how much remains until its overhaul, will decide the price of the aircraft at resale. 

The Cessna 162 from 2011 can be purchased between $55,000 and $85,000 USD depending on how much time is on the aircraft and its engine.

While its value has significantly decreased over the years, it will continue to go down and lose value. Because it is not as common and parts aren’t as widely available as a Cessna 150, eventually when it is old enough its value will go below that of the 150 or 152. 

Cessna 162/ Owner Reviews

The Cessna 162 is more commonly owned by flight schools than private owners. Not able to justify the price for the value, many recreational pilots did not wish to invest in the Skycatcher. 

Those who have flown the Cessna 162 talk about its handling characteristics. Being a light aircraft it is not the most stable, and some aren’t used to flying with a stick instead of a control column. 

However, the Cessna 162 does have some stability in slow flight. With a full flap, it handles quite well and is less likely to enter a spin during stall practice compared to a Cessna 150. 

With its lightweight, the Cessna 162 is known to float a bit more upon landing. This can be surprising to some pilots and needs to be considered when landing on short runways. 

Cessna 162/ Similar Aircraft

While the Cessna 162 may seem shiny and new, it’s not the first choice when it comes to many flight schools and private owners. Due to its high price and underwhelming performance, the Cessna 162 is often the second choice when put in line with its two-seater counterparts. 

The Cessna 150 is considered a classic trainer, and a fleet of 150s can be found at almost every flight school. Manufactured in 1958-1977, the 150 is cheap to buy and even cheaper to operate. Due to its easy handling, it is a training favorite, and its 100-110 horsepower engine puts it in the same performance categories as the Cessna 162. 

The Cessna 152 followed soon after the Cessna 150. Manufactured between 1977 and 1985, this trainer is just as prevalent as the Cessna 150. With more than 7500 having been built, many are still flying today, and parts are in abundance. 

Many owners who were looking into purchasing the Cessna 162 ended up saving their money and investing in a Cessna 172. While the aircraft is a four-seater rather than a two-seater, and has a bit more power in the engine, it is also a renowned trainer that has remained in popularity throughout the years. 

While Cessna is a well-known company for producing quality aircraft, Piper was not far behind when it came to producing trainers. The Piper Colt was built by Piper in an attempt to make a breakthrough in the training market, and they succeeded. This small two-seater aircraft can be purchased for less than 25,000$ and has excellent handling characteristics, which is perfect for those learning how to fly or are looking for a slower two-seat aircraft. 

Designing aircraft that is affordable was a goal for most aircraft companies, and the Piper Vagabond was developed as a two-seat tailwheel aircraft to appeal to individual buyers. Although it only has 65 horsepower, and not many were produced, its excellent handling characteristics and similarities to the Piper Cub made it popular during its time. 

Cessna 162/ Clubs You can Join

There are a few groups and clubs that a new Cessna 162 owner can join. Joining clubs and forums can help keep the owner informed and help with any questions or concerns they may have. Finding groups of other Skycatcher owners can help when it comes to needing a part or needing a question answered. 

The Cessna Flyer Association is a club designed for Cessna pilots and owners. Club memberships range from 1 year for 44$ to 3 years for 110$. A monthly print magazine is included, and membership gives you access to all their online resources and forums. 

The Cessna Owner Organization is an online group of Cessna owners and pilots. A membership will give you access to their members-only online forum, the Cessna Owner magazine, technical support, and e-newsletters. 

The Cessna Pilots Association is an online organization for Cessna pilots. A membership costs 45$ for the year and gives you the option of a physical magazine or digital copy. Members have access to exclusive online community conversations and have a place where questions can be answered.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is SMOH?

Answer: Since Major Overhaul is the time on an engine before it needs to be completely taken apart and examined. The time to overhaul is suggested by the manufacturer, and it is possible for aircraft to go over that recommended time. The recommended time to overhaul the Cessna 162 is 1800 or every 12 years, whichever comes first. 

Question: How many Cessna 162s are flying today?

Answer: There were originally 275 Cessna 162s built and registered. All those aircraft are located in the United States, and although registered, it is unsure how many are still flying today. 

Question: Is the Cessna 162 safe?

Answer: Although the prototype Cessna 162s had a few accidents, they were quickly resolved. Any problems with the design of the 162 were quickly fixed after their release and can be flown safely by pilots who take into consideration their limitations. 

Question: Do 162s have a glass cockpit?

Answer: The Cessna Skycatcher is equipped with the Garmin G300, an all-glass display providing the aircraft with top-of-the-line instrumentation for both day and night VFR missions. It is a reliable system that places all visuals before the pilot and increases their situational awareness. 

Further Reads:

Research Citations

https://buy.garmin.com/en-CA/CA/p/69324

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cessna_162_Skycatcher

https://www.airspacemag.com/flight-today/flight-skycatcher-180952404/#:~:text=Cessna’s%20162%20skycatcher%20is%20vastly,won’t%20frighten%20new%20pilots.&text=The%20Skycatcher%20will%20top%20out,of%20aviation%20gasoline%20per%20hour.

https://www.flyingmag.com/story/aircraft/approachable-aircraft-cessna-162-skycatcher/

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