The Cessna 150 is a two-seat tricycle gear general aviation airplane that was designed for flight training, touring and personal use. In 1977, it was succeeded in production by the Cessna 152, a minor modification to the original design.
|Role||Light utility aircraft, basic trainer|
|First flight||September 12, 1957|
The Cessna 150 is the fifth most produced aircraft ever, with 23,839 produced. The Cessna 150 was offered for sale in named configurations that included the Standard basic model, the Trainer with dual controls, and the deluxe Commuter, along with special options for these known as Patroller options. Later, these configurations were joined by the top-end Commuter II and the aerobatic Aerobat models.
In 2007, Cessna announced a successor to the Model 150 and 152, the Model 162 Skycatcher.
Development of the Model 150 began in the mid-1950s with the decision by Cessna Aircraft to produce a successor to the popular Cessna 140 which finished production in 1951. The main changes in the 150 design were the use of tricycle landing gear, which is easier to learn to use than the tailwheel landing gear of the Cessna 140, and replacing the rounded wingtips and horizontal and vertical stabilizers with more modern, squared-off profiles. In addition, the narrow, hinged wing flaps of the 140 were replaced by larger, far more effective Fowler flaps.
The Cessna 150 prototype first flew on September 12, 1957, with production commencing in September 1958 at Cessna's Wichita, Kansas, plant. 1,764 aircraft were also produced by Reims Aviation under license in France. These French manufactured 150s were designated Reims F-150, the "F" indicating they were built in France.
American-made 150s were all produced with the Continental O-200-A engine of 100 horsepower (75 kW). Most Reims-built aircraft are powered by a Continental O-200-A built under license by Rolls Royce, but some have the Rolls Royce-built version of the Continental O-240-A.
All models from 1966 onwards have larger doors and increased baggage space. With the 1967 Model 150G, the doors were bowed outwards 1.5 inches (38 mm) on each side to provide more cabin elbow room.
The 150 was succeeded in the summer of 1977 by the closely related Cessna 152. The 152 is more economical to operate due to the increased TBO (time between overhaul) of the Lycoming O-235 engine. The 152 had its flap travel limited to 30 degrees, from the 150's 40 degree flap deflection, for better climb with full flaps and the maximum certified gross weight was increased from 1,600 lb (726 kg) on the 150 to 1670 lb (757 kg) on the 152. Production of the 152 ended in 1985 when manufacturing of all Cessna piston singles was suspended.
A total of 22,138 Cessna 150s were built in the United States, including 21,404 Commuters and 734 Aerobats. Reims Aviation completed 1,764 F-150s, of which 1,428 were Commuters and 336 were Aerobats. A Reims affiliate in Argentina also assembled 47 F-150s, including 38 Commuters and 9 Aerobats.
Of all the Cessna 150-152 models, the 1966 model year was the most plentiful with 3,067 1966 Cessna 150s produced. This was the first year the aircraft featured a swept tail fin, increased baggage area and electrically operated flaps.
Cessna has historically used model years like the U.S. automobile industry, with new models typically being introduced a few months prior to the actual calendar year.
The 1959 and 1960 model years of the Cessna 150 had no suffix letter. They had a gross weight of 1,500 lb (680 kg), and the flaps were actuated manually with a mechanically-linked lever between the seats.
The configurations available were the "Standard", the most basic level with the fewest features; the upgraded "Trainer", with dual flight controls, a more complete set of flight instruments for instrument flight rules operation, a radio, a landing light, and a few other features; and the top-of-the-line "Inter-City Commuter" (often called simply the "Commuter"), which added an engine vacuum pump, vacuum-driven heading and attitude indicators, and a revolving anti-collision beacon mounted on the vertical fin, along with all of the Trainer's features except for the dual flight controls. The cost was US$6,995 for the Standard, $7,940 for the Trainer, and $8,545 for the Commuter.
For the 1960 model, the generator in the Commuter was upgraded to 35 amperes. All 150s for 1959 had included a 20-ampere generator, and this was retained in the Standard and Trainer for 1960; the 35-ampere generator was offered as an option for these configurations. Also for 1960, "Patroller" options were introduced for patrol-type work. These could be added, either together or selectively, to any 150 configuration, and included a "Patroller" wing with long-range fuel tanks that held a total of 38 US gal (144 L), instead of the standard 26 US gal (98 L) in the normal wing; "Patroller" doors, with extra acrylic glass windows in the lower half for better visibility; and a message drop tube, for dropping messages and other small items through the cabin floor to the ground.
Production was 122 in 1958, 648 in 1959 and 354 in 1960.
The 1961 model incorporated enough changes to justify a suffix letter and thus was designated the "150A". The most obvious change was in the rear side windows, which were 15% larger for slightly better rear visibility. The landing gear was also redesigned, shifting the main wheels aft by two inches (five centimetres), but not changing the gear leg mountings. This shift of the main wheels made the aircraft less likely to tip back onto its tail during loading, and it also made the nose wheel bear more weight, which increased its steering effectiveness.
Other new features in the 150A were an instrument panel with a completely redesigned layout; flush inside door handles and nearly flush window latches, which made the 150's narrow cabin a bit less cramped; and an option for individually adjustable seats. 344 of the 150A were constructed.
The 150B was the 1962 model. It replaced the former standard propeller, the Sensenich M69CK-52, with the McCauley 1A100/MCM6950. The new propeller had the same diameter of 69 inches (1,750 mm), but its blade pitch was reduced, which increased the maximum cruise speed by about 3 mph (5 km/h; 3 kn) and slightly improved the climb rate and service ceiling. The original metal wingtips were replaced by more smoothly contoured fiberglass ones with a different shape, increasing the wingspan by about 2 inches (50 mm). The optional two-passenger child seat for the baggage compartment, available from the very first 150, was completely redesigned for the 150B. A new option was a simple autopilot, specifically for the Commuter version, called "Nav-O-Matic", a single-axis heading-hold type. Also newly offered for the 150B were optional "courtesy lights" in the underside of the wings to light the area around the doors when on the ground. The "Patroller" message drop tube option, on the other hand, was eliminated. 331 "B" models were built. The Commuter version cost US$8,995.
The 1963 model, the 150C, added a quick drain to the fuel strainer, and it offered an option for larger 6.00×6 inch (150×150 mm) main wheels and tires to replace the standard 5.00×5 inch (125×125 mm) size. Also, the optional landing gear "speed fairings" were changed to a sharp-nosed design compatible with those used for other single-engine Cessna models. 472 of the 150C were completed.
The 150D model for 1964 brought the first major change to the 150's look—the introduction of a wraparound rear window under the marketing name Omni-Vision, following the pattern already set by other Cessna models. The new rear window improved rearward visibility, and many people found the new cabin more "airy" and pleasant, due to the increased light. The baggage compartment was also enlarged, and the weight allowance for baggage was increased from 80 lb (36 kg) to 120 lb (54 kg). The gross weight of the aircraft was correspondingly increased to 1,600 lb (730 kg), where it would stay for all later 150 models.
Because of the higher gross weight with the same engine power, Cessna's claimed performance figures for the 150D and later models are worse than for earlier models: maximum and cruise speeds are reduced, range is shortened, takeoff and landing distances are lengthened, and climb rate and service ceiling are lower. Such changes are only to be expected, because performance is weight-dependent and is normally specified at maximum gross weight. Cruise performance may also have been lessened because the new rear window made the 150D's rear fuselage less well streamlined than the former "fastback" fuselage.
The 150D retained the straight tailfin and rudder of previous years. However, to lighten control loads, aerodynamic balance horns were added to the rudder and the elevator. These horns also contained weights (mass balances) to eliminate any possible control flutter that might be induced by the changed aerodynamics of the rear fuselage.
The 150D moved the heavy electrical battery from the previous rear location, behind the baggage compartment, to the front, just ahead of the engine firewall. It had a broader range for its center of gravity than earlier models, which allowed more flexibility in loading. The 150D also had more permissive airspeed limits for its never-exceed speed, its maneuvering speed, and particularly its maximum flaps-extended speed, which was raised from 85 mph (137 km/h; 74 kn) to 100 mph (161 km/h; 87 kn).
Partway through the 150D's production, an option was added for a heavy-duty nose landing gear with a larger 6.00×6 inch (150×150 mm) nosewheel; this had a tire whose tread was wider than standard but was only slightly larger in diameter. The folding torque links on this heavy-duty nose gear were also reversed, being mounted in front of the nosewheel strut instead of behind it. 804 150Ds were built.
The 1965 Cessna 150E saw only minor changes, like the addition of an optional rear-view mirror. The "E" model saw production increase to 1637 aircraft.
The 1966 model, the 150F, was greatly changed from previous versions, most obviously in its appearance: the vertical tail was swept back 35 degrees, with a short dorsal strake at its base, matching the styling of the Cessna 172 and other models. The cabin doors were widened, with 23% more area, and while the old doors were tapered at the bottom, the new doors were square, making it easier to get in and out of the cabin. The new doors also had larger windows and better latches. The baggage compartment was extended aft to the bottom of the rear window, giving 50% more room, although its load limit remained at 120 lb (54 kg). The cabin floor was now flat, with no hump for routing control cables. The old manual flaps were replaced by electrically driven flaps activated by a switch on the instrument panel; other former floor controls (the elevator trim wheel and fuel shutoff valve) were now on a small vertical console beneath the panel. The electric flaps now had a flap position indicator above the left door. The 6.00×6 inch (150×150 mm) main wheels with large low-pressure tires were now standard rather than optional, and they had new brakes. The stall warning alert, previously an electric beeper, was now a pneumatic reed horn that would work even if electrical power failed. The pointed propeller spinner and rear-view mirror options became standard for the Commuter and Trainer. Other newly standard features for the Commuter were dual controls (previously restricted to the Trainer), wheel speed fairings, and an electric heater for the pitot tube and stall warning sensor. The old optional Patroller-type door (with an extra window in the lower half) was dropped along with the name "Patroller", though long-range fuel tanks were still offered. The courtesy light option was also discontinued.
Cessna greatly expanded 150 production for the 150F; a total of 3087 of this model were produced. The 1966 model year would be the single most-produced model year in 150 production history. (More 150Ls and 150Ms would be produced later, but those were spread out over several model years.) The 1966 model year was also the first production of French Reims-built F150s, with 67 built as the F150F.
The 1967 model, the 150G, looked quite similar to the 150F but had many internal changes. The doors were bowed outward to make the cabin about three inches (75 mm) wider, and the floor was lowered to add head room. Rubber sound isolators were added to the engine cowling to reduce vibration and noise in the cabin. The cabin heating system now allowed heated air to be mixed with fresh air and had a new windshield defroster outlet. The instrument panel's layout was changed, and the control yokes now had open tops. The stroke of the nosewheel's oleo strut was shortened from 7 inches (180 mm) to 4 inches (100 mm). Both of the old electrical generators, 20-ampere and 35-ampere, were replaced by a new 60-ampere alternator. The anti-collision beacon (standard on the Commuter, optional elsewhere) was changed from the old motorized revolving type to a new flashing type. Separately adjustable bucket seats were now standard for the Commuter and could be either fabric- or vinyl-covered. The Commuter got standard wall-to-wall carpet. Tinted windows were a new option.
The 150G was also the first Cessna 150 variant certified for floats. For floatplane operation it used a larger 75-inch (1,905 mm) diameter propeller and had a gross weight of 1,650 lb (750 kg). A total of 2114 150G models were built by Cessna; another 152 were built by Reims in France as the F150G.
The 1968 model, the 150H, differed externally from the 150G only in adding streamlined speed fairings at the ends of the wing struts. The electric flap switch was now a three-way switch: when pushed upward to raise flaps, it would stay in that position, making this operation "hands-off", but lowering the flaps still required holding the switch downward. The flap position indicator was now vertical, on the left front doorpost, and the center console was narrowed to improve legroom. A new wing leveler option could automatically control the ailerons and rudder to keep the aircraft on course. 2007 150Hs were built in Wichita, with 170 built by Reims as the F150H.
The 1969 model was the 150J, which externally looked identical to the 150H. The 150J's biggest change was its instrument panel layout, which finally adopted the "basic-T" arrangement that would be used for all later 150 models. The 150J also had rocker-style electrical switches instead of the former pull-type ones, and a new key-operated combined magneto/starter-switch replaced the old "pull-style" starter. The new starter was more "car-like" but not as reliable as the old one and also more expensive to repair. New options were a map light under the control wheel and a ground power plug, and extra steps and handles were added to the floatplane version to make fueling easier. 1714 "J" models were built, plus 140 built by Reims as the F150J.
For the 1970 model, the 150K, Cessna added a split master switch that could turn off the alternator separately, a ground-adjustable rudder trim tab, a new molded cabin headliner, and new seats with greater legroom. New options included tinted dual overhead skylights for upward visibility, extra steps and handles to aid in fueling, whitewall tires, and "conically cambered" wingtips that curved downward toward the trailing edge. On the 150K Commuter, the cambered wingtips were standard.
The biggest change in the 150K, however, was the addition of a new version certified for aerobatics, the A150K Aerobat. The Aerobat retained the normal 150's 100 hp (75 kW) Continental O-200 engine, but structurally it was stronger than the normal 150K, being rated for load factors of +6.0/−3.0 g (vs. +4.4/–1.76 g for the normal 150K) and having higher limits for its maneuvering and never-exceed speeds. Other Aerobat standard features included the dual skylights already mentioned, shoulder harnesses for both occupants, removable seat backs and cushions to make room for a back-pack or seat-pack parachute, jettisonable doors, and a special checkerboard paint scheme; there was also an optional accelerometer for the instrument panel. The Aerobat was approved for a variety of maneuvers that were not permitted for normal 150s, but it still had the normal 150's gravity-fed fuel system, so sustained inverted flight was not possible. A 1970 A150K Aerobat cost $12,000 as opposed to the $11,450 price for a 150K Commuter model.
A total of 832 "K" models were built, including A150Ks. Reims built 129 as the F150K and 81 as the FA150K.
The 150L had the longest production run of any 150 sub-model, being produced 1971–74.
New in 1971 were tubular landing gear legs with a 16% greater width (6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) to 7 feet 7 inches (2.31 m) for better ground handling. These replaced the previous flat steel leaf spring gear. Also in 1971, the landing and taxi lights were moved from the wing leading edge to the nose bowl to better illuminate the ground. They were an improvement, but bulb life was reduced due to the heat and vibration of that location. They were moved back to the wing on the 1984 model Cessna 152.
The "L" also introduced a longer dorsal strake that reached to the rear window. This was done more for styling than for aerodynamics and the empty weight accordingly went up 10 lb (4.5 kg) over the "K". 879 were built in 1971.
In 1972 the "L" received new fuel filler caps to reduce moisture seepage, and better seats and seat tracks. 1100 were built in 1972.
The 1973 "L" model brought in lower seats to provide more headroom for taller pilots. 1460 of the 1973 models were built.
The final "L" model was produced in 1974. The only change this model year was the propeller on the A150L Aerobat, to a new Clark Y airfoil that increased cruise by 4 mph (6.4 km/h). 1080 150s were produced in 1974.
Total "L" production was 4519, plus the 485 built by Reims as the F150L and 39 FA150L Aerobats. An additional 39 were built in Argentina by DINFIA as the A-150L.
The final Cessna 150 model was the 150M. It introduced the "Commuter II" upgrade package that included many optional avionics and trim items as standard. The "M" also brought an increased fin height, by 6 inches (150 mm). This increased the rudder and fin area by 15% to improve crosswind handling. The "M" was produced for three years: 1975–77. The United States Air Force Academy uses M variant (designated the T-51) for training and competition.
Inertia-reel restraints became available as an option with the 1975 model year. 1269 1975 model 150Ms were built.
In 1976 the "M" gained a suite of electrical circuit breakers to replace the previous fuses used. It was also fitted with a fully articulated pilot seat as standard equipment (this seat had been optional on some earlier models). 1399 were built.
The 1977 model year was the last for the Cessna 150. It added only "pre-select" flaps, allowing the pilot to set the flaps to any position without the pilot having to hold the switch during flap travel, enabling the pilot to concentrate on other flying duties. Only 427 1977 model 150Ms were built as production shifted to the improved Cessna 152 in the early part of 1977.
The many refinements incorporated into the 150 over the years had cost the aircraft a lot of useful load. The very first 150 weighed 962 lb (436 kg) empty, whereas the last "M Commuter II" had an empty weight of 1,129 lb (512 kg). This increase in empty weight of 167 lb (76 kg) was offset only by a gross weight increase of 100 lb (45 kg) in 1964. The 152 would bring a much-needed 70 lb (32 kg) increase in gross weight to 1,670 lb (760 kg).
A total of 3097 "M" models were built during its three-year run. An additional 285 were built by Reims as the F150M and 141 FA150M Aerobats. Reims also built 75 A150Ls with F150M modifications.
Reims produced a variant of the Rolls-Royce Continental O-240-A powered FRA150L Aerobat with the same improvements as the F150M, 75 built.
There are hundreds of modifications available for the Cessna 150. Some of the most frequently installed include:
The aircraft is popular with flying schools as well as private individuals.
Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft
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