What Are the Typical Aircraft Options in Flight Schools?

By Pilot Institute
Posted on August 19, 2021 - 3 minute read

Just about all flight schools in the world offer aircraft options chosen from a small range of trainer aircraft. Trainer aircraft, as the name implies, are a type of aircraft specially designed for training. These have special features like tandem controls and a simplified cockpit arrangement to facilitate learning.

While the selection of trainer aircraft may vary from one flight school to the next, here is a list of the more common options.

Cessna 150

The Cessna 150 is a two-seat, single-engine airplane is one of the least expensive and most common airplanes used in flight schools. First developed in the mid-1950s, the Cessna 150 has a tricycle landing gear that is easier to learn to use.

A major drawback of the Cessna 150 is the fact it is quite small with a similarly small cockpit. This makes it near-impossible to fly for heavier or taller people. In terms of flight performance, the Cessna 150 is relatively slower than most other training aircraft and performs poorly at high-altitude zones.

Cessna 172


The Cessna 172, also called the Skyhawk, is considered by many to be the quintessential training aircraft both in the US and globally. A four-seat single-engine airplane, the Cessna 172 remains the most produced airplane in history at about 44,000 airframes since 1955. If you’re going to do flight training, you will be very likely to fly a Cessna 172.

Compared to the 150, the Cessna 172 is larger. Aside from having training-friendly performance, the 172 was also large enough to transport a family of four. The 172 also has the same tricycle landing gear and high-wing design as the 150. As one of the more reliable training airplanes, the Cessna 172 is considered to offer the best combination of cost and performance.

Piper PA-28 Cherokee

The Piper PA-28 Cherokee or Piper Warrior features low-mounted wings and tricycle landing gear. The first Warrior was manufactured in 1974 while Warrior III models continue to be in production currently.

Designed as an airplane that was both inexpensive and offered benign flight characteristics, the Warrior featured a long wingspan with constant-chord wing planforms that reduced drag and a stabilator or flying tail that offered good pitch control.

Although the low-wing design reduced visibility and made ingress and egress more difficult, the Warrior remains one of the most common training aircraft used today. The Warrior is considered a highly reliable aircraft that similarly offers an optimal cost-performance ratio.

Cirrus SR20

Compared to the other aircraft in this list, the Cirrus SR20 is the most expensive. It is a piston-engine monoplane made with composite materials and is the first aircraft of Cirrus to become type-certified.

What makes the Cirrus SR20 so unique as a training aircraft is that it offers flat-panel avionics. The digital flight instrument displays are designed to improve flight training and provide better awareness to students. The sensors and other flight instruments have been similarly modernized.

The SR20 was also the first aviation aircraft to come equipped with a parachute. This parachute was meant to facilitate the slowing down of the aircraft and help land it safely in the event of a loss of control or a structural failure. The added safety feature certainly adds to the appeal of the Cirrus SR20 as a training aircraft.

Cirrus SR22


The Cirrus SR22 is a bit less common than the SR22 but is also used by many flight schools worldwide. As an updated version of the SR20, the SR22 is a similarly expensive and premium aircraft. Compared to its predecessor, the SR22 has a more powerful engine, a larger wing, and a higher fuel capacity.

The Cirrus SR22 is a low-wing monoplane made with composite materials. As of 2019, a special training-geared version of the SR series has been released with a simplified cockpit, air traffic control communications for observers, and simulated landing gear controls for landing gear training. Just like the SR20, the SR22 comes with an emergency parachute system.

As expected, the premium features of both the SR20 and SR22 come at a price even for flight training. If you stumble upon a flight school that offers Cirrus aircraft for training, be ready to spend a bit more on aircraft rental expenses.

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