Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Piston Singles Buyer's Guide 2013


You want it, you got it: trainers, cross-country haulers, bush planes and more!



Cirrus SR22
The good news for 2013 is that a new model was added to the production ranks late in 2012. The bad news is that it's a former LSA, the Cessna 162. In a sense, another model was reintroduced in the form of the Liberty XL2. Liberty was substantially revived by a huge 200-airplane order, all aircraft to be built at a new plant in China. Liberty produced only three airplanes in 2011, but the Chinese order reconfirmed that the product remains viable.

What we've labeled Adventure Aircraft are those models most often flown for fun, utility or both. These are frequently the heavy haulers that can be used for off-airport operations, often mounted on floats or skis. They're also the fun machines that teach us aerobatics or just allow us to play on weekends. These are airplanes that don't necessarily demand long paved runways (or any runways at all), heavy loads of avionics or tricycle gear. Perhaps unsurprisingly, our Adventure Aircraft is the largest of the single-engine classes. (Wonder if that says anything about the general aviation market.) Have fun!

Cessna Aircraft
www.cessna.com

Cessna 162
Cessna had grand hopes for their model 162 LSA, but the economy played havoc with sales of a good airplane. The company intended to build 600 airplanes the first year (2009), and claimed they had 1,000 confirmed orders, but instead, they delivered only 30. As of August 2012, total deliveries were 267, and Cessna decided the 162 needed to be a production aircraft. In some respects, the 162 is a better machine than the 152. Cessna's newest single has a better glide ratio, improved visibility and arguably quicker cruise, plus it's a more comfortable airplane than the 152. Price: $149,000.


Cessna 172
Cessna 172
Skyhawks are forever—or so it seems. As practically everyone's idea of everyman's airplane, the current 172SP is still a standard bearer for Cessna. Upgraded to 180 hp, the Hawk has a little more enthusiasm in climb and about 120 realistic knots in cruise with a full load, if anyone cares. More important, the venerable 172 (how could it not be venerable after 50 years in production?) is universally regarded as the most docile of trainers and most versatile of family airplanes. Price: $307,000.


Cessna 182
Cessna 182/182T
It seems Cessna can do little wrong with the reliable Skylane. Long regarded as one of the best four-seat family airplanes in America, the 182 dates back the same half-century as the Skyhawk. With performance in the small retractable class, the Skylane is everyone's friend. Count on 135 knots across the ground following a near-1,000 fpm climb. A turbo ups the base ante $45,000 but also improves performance dramatically, making travel in the lower flight levels fast and efficient. The new Diesel Skylane is expected to be certified by the time you read this, and Cessna hopes to begin deliveries in the second quarter of this year. Prices: 182 $398,100; 182T $443,500; Diesel $515,000.


Cessna 206
Cessna 206/206T
It seems Cessna can do little wrong with the reliable Skylane. Long regarded as one of the best four-seat family airplanes in America, the 182 dates back the same half-century as the Skyhawk. With performance in the small retractable class, the Skylane is everyone's friend. Count on 135 knots across the ground following a near-1,000 fpm climb. A turbo ups the base ante $45,000 but also improves performance dramatically, making travel in the lower flight levels fast and efficient. The new Diesel Skylane is expected to be certified by the time you read this, and Cessna hopes to begin deliveries in the second quarter of this year. Prices: 182 $398,100; 182T $443,500; Diesel $515,000.


Cessna Corvalis
Corvalis TTx
Cessna's only low-wing piston model is the fastest single-engine production airplane in the world—period. It's also a remarkably sophisticated machine, the top of the Cessna piston line, and the numbers are so impressive, it could even serve as a step-up airplane to the Mustang jet. The TTx incorporates the Garmin G2000 with touch-screen capability and the G700 autopilot. Full-fuel payload wasn't impressive, only 328 pounds on the airplane I flew last summer in Wichita, but speed was 225 knots up high, an easy 200 knots at breathable altitudes. Price: $733,950.




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