The Cessna 182, quickly baptized Skylane in its early days, is a tricycle gear aircraft developed from the robust backcountry all-star Cessna 180.
Introduced in 1956, the 182 quickly became a hit due to its flexibility and ease of operation, spawning a total of 23 variants over time. Whether in its regular, retractable-gear, or turbocharged versions, it has made its name as an honest aircraft that gets owners their money’s worth without needless excesses.
1956 / Cessna / 182 Specs
The Cessna 182 has gone through many iterations since its introduction in 1956, and therefore specifications have gone through plenty of changes over the years. There are two major factors in the Skylane, which Cessna allowed owners to mix and match based on their needs and budget.
The first one is the landing gear, which can be fixed or retractable. Fixed gear increases drag and thus brings a performance penalty, while the retractable gear increases the aircraft’s overall weight and maintenance costs, a given for any additional moving parts added to an airplane.
The second variable is the engine type. Between 1956 and 1980, all Cessna 182 models came with a 230 hp engine. Originally these were made by Continental, but a contractual break between the two companies eventually opened the doors for Lycoming engines to be installed.
The major change came with the Cessna T128 Skylane, certified on August 15th, 1980. The “T” in the designation stood for the turbocharger on the Lycoming O-540-L3C5D engine, which greatly increased performance and fuel efficiency at higher altitudes at the cost of increased maintenance hours.
There is some common ground between variants. The Cessna 182 Skylane family seats up to four people, including one pilot.
All engines used in the family are 6-cylinder models with 230 hp for the non-turbocharged versions and 235 hp for those with it installed, driving a constant speed propeller. In standard conditions, fuel burn will be between 14 and 13 gallons an hour, with newer variants being slightly more efficient across the board.
The original Skylane had a take-off weight of 2650 lbs with a useful load of 1029 lbs, of which 120 lbs could be fitted in the luggage compartment. The 1980s models like the Cessna 182R brought the take-off weight up to 3100 lbs with 1377 lbs of useful payload plus 200 lbs in the luggage, a very significant increase.
Turbocharged versions currently in production match this take-off weight and luggage, but with a slightly smaller useful load of 1186 lbs. This is because of the turbocharger’s weight. Oil capacity on earlier models was 12 quarts, increased to 13 quarts on the 182R, then reduced to only 9 quarts with the T182T.
Fuel capacity for the Skylane started at 65 gallons, being expanded to 68 with the Cessna 182R, with an option for a 92-gallon long-range tank add-on, before this finally became a standard fit on turbocharged aircraft. The fuel is fed by gravity from the wing tanks to the auxiliary fuel pump.
This gives most Skylane variants around 6.5 hours in the air or trips as far out as 850 nmi. Electrical powered is provided by a 28v DC system coupled with a 60A alternator and a 24v battery.
Equipment aboard is powered by two primary buses, an essential bus and a crossfeed bus between them. A push-to-reset circuit breaker controls the connection of the primary bus to the avionics bus.
Cessna 182 / Model Prices
Since production was restarted in 2015, Textron has been offering newly-built Cessna 182 models for $530000 with the standard kit fitted. With this in mind, it can be hard to believe that way back in 1956, the very first new Cessna 182 was on the market for only $17700 – around $172000 in FY2020, adjusted for inflation.
The high cost for new aircraft is a combination of many factors, mainly the overall price growth for general aviation aircraft, the turbocharged engine, and the new top-of-the-line avionics package that comes installed by default, saving the owner from a future similar investment to keep the aircraft in line with new regulations coming into place.
Cessna 182 / Performance and Handling
The Skylane’s cruise speeds range from 136 to 140 KCAS depending on the model, while do not exceed speeds grew from 160 to 171 KCAS over the years. For pilots not in a hurry, cruising at around 117 KCAS brings around a 15% loss of speed, but the throttle reduction cuts fuel burn by 30%, a very good trade-off in most situations.
Unlike other Cessna high-wing models, which underwent significant aerodynamic refinements and wing redesigns, the 182 has remained largely the same throughout its long service history.
This has led to stall speeds remaining the same across the board – 54 KCAS when clean and 49 KCAS when configured for landing. This was not quite within STOL requirements but still placed it in the next best bracket.
The aircraft’s best climb rate is 1030 fpm for the lighter 1959 Cessna 182A, dipping to 865 fpm with the Cessna 182R and picking up again to 925 fpm with the turbocharged T182T.
Original Skylane models are slightly more responsive and maneuverable, with a wing loading of 15.2 lbs/sq ft. The weight increase over the years increased this value to 17.8 lbs/sq ft. On the other hand, power loading grew from 11.5 lbs/hp to 13.5 lbs/hp.
The service ceiling for the first Skylanes was 20000ft, with the 182R suffering a significant reduction to 14900ft before the turbocharged variants brought it up to 18100ft.
The Cessna 182’s type certificate is filed in the normal category, which prohibits intentional spins and aerobatic maneuvers.
While not rated for aerobatics, the Skylane is popular among pilots for having responsive controls and extremely predictive behavior in the air, giving its pilots plenty of hints and chances to correct mistakes before a departure.
For those who do not heed the warnings, it is also very easy to recover, a feature common to most Cessna high-wing aircraft. Thanks to its tricycle gear arrangement, the aircraft is a pleasant ride during take-offs, landings and when taxiing, rid of the tailwheel vices that plagued the Cessna 180.
Cessna 182 / Model Maintenance Schedule
For aircraft equipped with the early Continental O-470 engine, the time between overhaul (TBO) is set at 1500 hours. This may seem a little modest by modern standards, but back in the 1950s, when this aircraft first took to the skies, it was stupendous engine longevity.
Many owners have reported this figure to be a little on the optimistic side. The O-470 is still renowned for its reliability, but most will require cylinder work before reaching 1500 hours, occasionally even speeding up the overhaul.
In 1977, the O-470-U extended the TBO to 2000 hours. This number remained unchanged after the transition to the Lycoming IO-540 series, both with and without the supercharger.
Cessna 182 / Modifications and Upgrades
Since 1956, the Cessna 182 has been produced in a whooping 23 distinct variants. Changes in gross weight, powerplant, and landing gear arrangement make up the brunt of these. Early models used the Continental O-470 engine series common to the Cessna 180, in a version rated for 230 hp.
This was eventually changed to the Lycoming O-540 series with similar power. A major break came in 1986: after product liability suits began weighing heavily on the company’s finances and reputation, Cessna announced the end of all single-engine piston aircraft production.
While the General Aviation Revitalization Act was signed in 1994, it took another three years for a new Skylane to leave the production line, a Cessna 182S model.
There were some major milestones in Skylane production. The aircraft initially had the iconic square-tipped vertical stabilizer in its first models, but this was replaced with a swept one in 1960 with the introduction of the Cessna 182C. To help with ground stability, the 182D in 1961 shortened the landing gear legs.
While previous models were nominally four-seaters by design, the 182E was the first member of the family able to do that comfortably.
It also brought significant changes to the aircraft as a whole. The empennage was redesigned to accommodate a slanted rearview window for better visibility, the mechanically actuated flaps were replaced by electric ones, and the cabin’s dimensions were revised for additional comfort.
These changes led to an increase in gross weight to 2800 lbs from the original 2550 lbs, which brought a landing gear reinforcement and a new O-470-R engine to compensate for it.
The option for 84-gallon additional bladder tanks was also introduced, becoming such a success that some analysts believe there were fewer aircraft without it than those equipped.
Starting in 1963, the Cessna 182F introduced a one-piece windshield and rear window, which considerably increased visibility from the cabin.
The instrument panel adopted the new industry standard basic-T shape, and the horizontal stabilizer was increased by 10 inches to improve low-speed elevator response. Instead of incremental flap positioning, the 182F had preset positions.
By then, the Skylane design had reached maturity, so changes became more incremental. The 182G gave the option for a child seat to be installed in lieu of the baggage area, the 182J introduced the alternator instead of the older generator, and in 1970 the 182N brought landing gear revisions which increased gross weight to 2950 lbs.
Low-speed handling was improved in 1972 with the use of leading-edge cuffs on the wings. In 1978, the extended fuel tanks became factory standards. Shortly before the 1986 production break, Cessna began offering the turbocharged Skylane in 1981, with a 235 hp Lycoming IO-540 engine.
After production resumed in 1997, both regular and turbocharged Cessna 182 models were produced with versions of the IO-540 to help standardize the fleet. Thanks to new manufacturing facilities originally destined for the business jet market, the build quality of post-break Skylanes is said to be even better than before.
With the design already a classic by then, Cessna changed focus to smaller improvements such as more crashworthy seats, better fuel drains, numerous small aerodynamic changes that improved speeds when combined, and a redesigned interior.
There was one major change introduced in the Cessna 182T from 2006: the option to install the Garmin G1000 avionics to turn the Cessna 182’s panel into a glass cockpit. This option turned out to be so popular that all new Skylanes leaving the factory now already have it by default.
Cessna 182 / Where to Find Replacement Parts
Like other Cessna piston-engined aircraft, the parts commonality between models and ease of maintenance have made it a very comfortable plane to own. Most shops in the world stock replacement parts for the Cessna 182, and mechanics are deeply familiar with them, making maintenance a breeze by most standards.
Cessna 182 / Model Common Problems
Already in the early 1960s, the Skylane was beginning to grow both as a commercial success and in weight.
Faced with increasing gross weights but wanting to keep performance within the same bracket without major powerplant changes, engineers at Cessna decided to introduce a lighter aluminum alloy on areas that do not bear loads.
While this allowed them to keep the aircraft’s weight within the targets set, it also brought along fuselage ripples. To remedy this, Cessna brought about the end of the ‘naked’ 182, opting to fully paint the aircraft instead to prevent wrinkling.
A problem common to both the 182 and its Skywagon predecessor is the visibility over the nose: the large instrument panel can make it a little lacking during landing for pilots without generous stature.
Visibility over the sides is also slightly short of ideal, with those in the two front seats needing to lean down to get a good look outside.
Due to the increased weight from the Cessna 182S models onwards, the aircraft’s center of gravity (CG) has become an issue depending on the loading arrangements.
If the crew has to cut a flight short with a full tank of fuel and two large people alone in the front seats, there is a risk that elevator authority will not be sufficient during landing. This compounded with a relatively heavy nose that requires finer and more constant trimming changes than other aircraft in its class.
Officially, this was addressed with the introduction of a 2950 lbs landing weight limit, but emergencies are usually not very flexible about when they happen, so it is advised to keep weights below that number unless the mission forbids it.
Though they have become increasingly rare, some older aircraft in the Cessna 182 market still have vices that were rectified in later models. Units built in the 1960s came equipped with VHF and HF avionics made by the Aircraft Radio Corporation (ARC).
While these work well on a good day, they have developed a bad reputation in terms of reliability in Cessna aircraft, particularly due to overheating issues. Another holdover common to early Cessnas is the use of rubber bladder fuel tanks, which may lead to fuel getting trapped by wrinkles and starving the engine.
The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive (AD) mandating more fuel drains on each tank, but the bill is expensive for aircraft that have not had this work done already.
Despite Cessna’s work to position the gear to avoid this, repeated hard landings or the wrong attitude during touchdown might lead to wrinkled firewalls, which can get rather expensive and time-consuming to fix.
Cessna 182 / Insurance Options
Thanks to the type’s good safety record and reliability, the Cessna 182 often gets fairly reduced insurance quotes compared to its competitors.
According to BWI Fly, an experienced pilot can get a yearly $260 to $350 in liability coverage plus $530 to $1200 in hull coverage, for a total of $790 to $1550.
Customers in the high-risk category, such as student pilots, will find those ranges increased to $375-$750 and $1200-$1900, adding up to between $1575 and $2650.
Cessna 182 / Model Resale Value
A noteworthy achievement for the Cessna 182 family is its resale value. Despite being in ongoing production and lacking the specialization some of its other Cessna cousins boast, prices for the Skylane have been on a near-constant rise over the years, and the type is known for having one of the shortest time to sell in the market.
Between 2017 and 2020, the asking price for plenty of Cessna 182 units in the market grew twofold, and despite this increase, they quickly found themselves in the hands of new owners.
According to Plane & Pilot Magazine, prices for second-hand Skylanes hover around $40000 for the 1959 Cessna 182B, between $97000 and $108000 for the Cessna 182R, and from $175000 to $395000 for 182T models.
The jump in the T-series is because these can be steam gauge aircraft with the standard IO-540 engine and fixed gear or glass cockpit rides with retractable landing gear and turbocharged engines.
Cessna 182 / Owner Reviews
The Skylane’s reliability and handling have made it almost impossible to find someone who dislikes the design. It does not have the crazy performance of the Cessna 185.
It cannot do bush flying as well as the Cessna 180, it is not as cheap as the Cessna 172, and it cannot do aerobatics like certain Cessna 150 models. What the 182 does do well, though, is deliver perfectly adequate yet ordinary performance every time.
This jack-of-all-trades excels not by being a world-beater but by having next to no shortcomings for its class. Hardly a bragging point by most standards, a large reason why owners love their Skylane is because it can actually live up to its four-seater reputation in most conditions.
The Cessna 182 can comfortably fly with all four souls aboard and a full tank of fuel without any noteworthy performance penalties.
A popular ‘party trick’ of the Cessna 182 is its roughly identical take-off and landing requirements. Most pilots hold the belief that any place they fly off from is good enough to return, and in tighter situations, this has led to many unpleasant surprises.
The Skylane, however, lives up to this expectation, putting its runway requirements just slightly above aircraft equipped with Roberston STOL conversions.
Cessna 182 / Similar Aircraft
The Skylane fits a niche of its own, bridging the gap between lighter four-seaters like the Cessna 172 and more robust and expensive high-performance options.
The Cirrus SR.20 or the Diamond DA.40 have been trying to nibble into its territory, yet they have found more competition with the Cessna 172 instead.
Many pilots agree that the only aircraft that could provide direct head-to-head competition was the Piper Dakota, and while it is still available in the used market, its production run ceased in 1994.
Cessna 182 / Clubs You can Join
The Cessna Flyer Association and the Cessna Owner Association cater for Skylane owners as well as other Cessna products, while smaller forums and Facebook groups focused on the Cessna 182 are readily available for advice trading and other type-related matters.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How Much Does it Cost to Fly a Cessna 182 per Hour?
Answer: Depending on the model and owner-specific variants, such as insurance and parking fees, costs per hour run between $180 and $220.
Question: How Much Does a Cessna 182 Skylane Cost?
Answer: Depending on the variant, costs can range from $40000 to $400000 for used aircraft, going up to $595000 for newly-built aircraft.
Question: Is the Cessna 182 Pressurized?
Answer: No. While the aircraft can reach up to 20000 ft, this requires the usage of oxygen masks and the appropriate cautions for high altitude flight.
Question: Is the Cessna 182 a Good First Plane?
Answer: It depends. The aircraft is pleasant to handle and forgiving of newcomers. However, it does have higher operating costs than most student aircraft.
Question: Can You Buy a New Cessna 182?
Answer: Yes. The Skylane has been in near-continuous production since 1956, with no plans to cease its manufacturing any time soon.