Piper - Cessna - ATC - Aviation Information

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Piper - Cessna

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One can trace the roots of Cessna and Piper aircraft all the way back to the early 1900's. Both of the aircraft manufacturing companies went through their share of hardships during earlier years. Originally founded in 1927, under a different name, Piper Aircraft Corporation went through a few different owners, a bankruptcy, and reorganization before emerging as a solid aircraft manufacturer in 1937. Cessna had similar problems in the beginning. Founded in 1911, Cessna had merged with another aircraft manufacturing company only to close the doors in 1932 due to the state of the economy. In 1934, Dwayne and Dwight Wallace reopened the doors to Cessna Aircraft Company and built the organization into a worldwide success. The similarity between the two companies goes beyond the organization and well into other things such as what market each company attracts, design characteristics, and performance characteristics.

Cessna began production of the Skyhawk in 1957. Over 35,000 C-172's have been built since. Not to be out done, Piper introduced the Cherokee in 1961 to compete with the Skyhawk. The PA-28 has also shared the success among general aviation pilots with sales into the 35,000 aircraft range as well. Both of these aircraft have been tailored to fit most aviation enthusiasts' budget making them very desirable. Older models of the C-172 and PA-28 are usually priced between $25,000 and $80,000. Newer models of each aircraft right off the assembly line can approach the $350,000 price range. Each aircraft is capable of carrying one to four persons including a pilot. This has made the Skyhawk and Cherokee an ideal airplane for the average family and aviation enthusiast.

Other than the C-172 having its? wings mounted on the top of the fuselage and the PA-28 on the bottom, they share virtually all other design characteristics. Both aircraft share a swept back vertical stabilizer or "tail" to increase stability when the nose of the aircraft is being pushed from one side to the other. The Cessna and Piper have also incorporated the tri-cycle landing gear configuration into the design phase. This style is the most commonly used setup in general aviation airplanes. The major advantage of aircraft having tri-cycle gear is preventing nose over. This occurs when the aircraft tail tips up and buries the propeller in the ground. The length, height, and wingspan of both aircraft are almost identical as well. The introduction of the glass cockpit into the Cessna and Piper has probably been one of the most recent and costly additions to the airplanes. Cessna and Piper released this upgrade almost simultaneously in their C-172 and PA-28 model at a cost of around $50,000.

Over the years, Cessna and Piper have implemented many performance changes to stay competitive with each other. The first C-172 came into the aircraft market with approximately 145 horsepower (hp). That number has risen as high as 220hp in the C-172 models; though, it has settled down to around 160hp in later editions. The first Piper PA-28 was introduced in a 150hp and 160hp configuration. Later models of the PA-28 saw 200hp, but the most popular models today are the 150hp and 160hp design. Other performance characteristics that are similar include: rate of climb around 700 feet per minute, service ceiling near 11,500 feet, maximum speed close to 140 miles per hour. Each aircraft has an approximate range of 770 miles which would be a non-stop flight from Washington, D.C. to Chicago, IL with fuel to spare.

Many aircraft manufacturing companies have tried to compete with the Skyhawk and Cherokee, but most pilots seem too pleased with the C-172 and PA-28 to try something new. Cessna and Piper have had their share of problems to overcome in the past, but they have both emerged as the top two aircraft companies among smaller general aviation aircraft. They have found a market of enthusiasts that enjoy both the similar design and performance characteristics offered in each plane. Both companies have plans on continuing the production of their two best selling aircraft. The only thing left to choose is if you prefer a high wing or low wing.
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