152 The Trainer Of The Future?
Textron Aviation doesn't agree but AOPA apparently thinks the Cessna 152 may be the trainer of the future and it has embarked on a "non-profit" project to see if it's right. AOPA Monday confirmed widespread rumors that it's refurbishing "several" 152s (we've heard three) by an undisclosed shop to see if affordable training aircraft can be pulled from the existing fleet and presumably have at least some of the modern bells and whistles available in modern aircraft. Here's what AOPA's Steve Hedges had to say in response to our inquiry: "AOPA is working on a project that will demonstrate the practicality of refurbishing legacy aircraft that will be reliable, and most importantly, affordable. A special focus will be on demonstrating to flying clubs and flight schools how refurbished aircraft can be used to grow the pilot population and reduce the cost of flying. AOPA is not looking to profit from this demonstration, rather we want to provide a proof-of-concept and viable template to refurbishment shops and potential owners around Cessna 152s. AOPA’s project will include the refurbishment of several C-152s by an experienced builder at their location. This project complements several others currently in progress in the GA marketplace that aim to refurbish existing aircraft and provide affordable ownership and rental options to pilots everywhere. We will have more details coming this summer!"
AVweb has fielded numerous inquiries about the initiative and we've been told AOPA's target price for a spinner-to-tail refurbish of a 152 is $85,000, which would place it well below the cost of most ready-to-fly light sport aircraft, which were presumed to be an important factor in attracting new pilots. Meanwhile, Textron has been quoted as saying that it has no plans to restart the 152 line, which ended at 7,584 airframes in 1985. Textron recently left the LSA market by ending production of the $150,000 162 Skycatcher. Textron's training aircraft is the Cessna 172, which is nudging $400,000 these days.