View Full Version : Best 2 seater and 4 seater training aircraft

No RYR for me
8th Sep 2009, 11:05
I am a bit lost at the moment in the training aircraft scene and have mainly been fooling around on the 152 and 172 for training purposes and the BE76 for the ME stuff.

If you had to buy a 2 and a 4 seater training aircraft. What would you buy and why. Even better if you can help me on the advantage disadvantage of some of the new types around :ok:

8th Sep 2009, 11:23
Very much depends on what you are looking for. Personally as an instructor I would aim for the Robin range (2160 and Dr400/500), but as a businessman I would probably not go there due to the support issues so you get back to Cessna/Piper rubbish, apart from the Robin range (and not sure exactly where these are at the mo) there does not seem to be much new on the market that I would class as a good training Aircraft, most nice handling newbuild aircraft now seem to be homebuilts!

8th Sep 2009, 18:56
I would buy two airplane from same builder, maintenance cost will be reduced and is more easy a transition for student.

For me:

Best Option C152-172 first one have a long engine time between overhaul "TBO", is easy to fly and funny. C172 is very versatile and you can use it also in aerial work (tow banner , aerial photo...), of course you can get one with G1000 to IFR training.

Second only if you like Piper. Tomahawk "tomasa" in my country :ok: and one Piper 28 with unless 160 HP. I never have flied one Tomasa but I think is a dangerous airplane to show STALL. Piper 28 for me inside is not very comfortable you are dived inside.

MEP for me better due cheap maintenance Piper Twin Comanche, or from Cessna my favourite training aircraft C310!!!!! but is expensive to operate, but... IS A GREAT PLANE!!!! FUNNY AND TALL TO TAXI.

8th Sep 2009, 19:16
I never have flied one Tomasa but I think is a dangerous airplane to show STALL

If you think this then don't try spinning one:eek:! (and are you an instructor? makes me worried if you are and concerned about stalling in ANY light single!). IMHO one of the few things good about the PA38 is that it has proper spin and stall!

Legal Beagle
8th Sep 2009, 23:00
Please don't knock the poor old Tomahawk before you fly one!

In my view a surprisingly good training aeroplane. There is particularly good visibility out of the cockpit and, by and large, it performs as it says on the tin.

As it was put to me by a pilot very experienced on the Tomahawk it is an easy aeroplane to fly badly and a difficult one to fly well. His point was that this characteristic could be used to produce good pilots. I think he had a point.

Go fly one. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

8th Sep 2009, 23:25
In my view a surprisingly good training aeroplane.

Got to disagree there. Yes it has excellent viz, a well laid out cockpit, stalls and spins well but has poorly harmonised controls and IMHO any training aircraft that fails to show so many parts of flying that people should learn (the high tail removes many secondary effects that a conventional aircraft has) cannot be a good trainer, and its not hard to fly well, just not the nicest around - though of course still better than being on the ground:}

Bla Bla Bla
9th Sep 2009, 01:27
I flew a tomahawk for about 70hrs when I trained and although everyone tells you its dreadful aeroplane, I have to disagree. It has its issues but most sep do, I think it lands very nicely and compared to its old time competition the 152 it has enough room for a couple of big blokes. Yes the controls could be better harmonized but to the average pilot in training it hardly puts them at a loss. Since the stall strips were fitted its a bit better behaved.

The four seat a/c well the 172 gets the vote over the Piper competition, just a personal thing really. I hate having one door and find the the loading and unloading a pain in the arse.

9th Sep 2009, 10:40
I didn't say that Pa38 is a bad airplane, is a airplane with two Little problem, T tail and wings live time. I would like fly that airplane, I'm sure is funny and easy to fly, ever I have wanted fly a Tomahawk.

Several Pa38 crashed in Spain due T tail shadow during a stall or spin on training.

9th Sep 2009, 12:25
The Tomahawk has it's many admirers and perhaps a somewhat greater number of detractors. In my opinion, it is a sporty little plane, can be a bit twitchy to fly and demands the acquisition of fairly precise handling skills from the pilot.

This in itself is a useful exercise for students but it does require an instructor who is quite familiar with the type.

As a 2 seat trainer it's hard to beat but as a tourer it would be akin to choosing a kitchen stool to read the Sunday papers rather than a comfortable armchair. The PA 28 is both an excellent trainer and, if decently equipped, makes a good touring aircraft.

However the 172, in my opinion, makes a better tourer but it's baby brother the 152 is beaten into second place as a 2 seat trainer by the PA 38.

In summary, best of both worlds for me would be a traumahawk and a 172.

A and C
9th Sep 2009, 17:52
I have to agree with Foxmoth about the Robin aircraft and in an ideal world I would use them as trainers but the Factory parts support is just not good enough if you are running a business.

The PA-38 is a very good training aircraft but it is now restricted by the fatugue issues with the main spar and so is now no longer a runner on economic grounds.

So for the two seater it is back to the good old Cessna 152 if you want to keep the price in check.

The four seat trainer issue is a bit more open with both the PA28 & C172 making the grade, I think that Piper is just a little better put together than the Cessna and is likely to be a bit more robust in a training enviroment.

Mickey Kaye
9th Sep 2009, 20:49
A and C

How would you compare the C150 to the C152?

9th Sep 2009, 21:35
Not sure from the original post whether we are talking about a training business or not, but if we are it seems there are two things to consider:

1. Is the type supported? Where I fly (CZ) Cessna singles are common and supported at pretty much every airfield. Pipers are very few and far between. Can you get it fixed if it breaks? How much will the spares cost and how long to get them there? Can the mechanic fit them? This ties to the comments on the (brilliant) Robins - every hour on the ground loses you money.

2. Choosing one high and one low wing aircraft will give your students the experience of both - invaluable in my limited experience, and a great differences training opportunity.

There is another decision to be made here - do you go for fixed pitch/welded gear versions of both, or the simple version of either, with the complex version of the other. If teaching at CPL level the second option will increase your versatility.

Good luck - it's a tough business to go into at the moment.

10th Sep 2009, 09:55
I agree with you.

About point one

Never Beech or Socata first because spare parts are expensive and Socata because support is dreadful

Second point

Propeller-Cessna 172 Rocket
Propeller/Landing gear not fixed- Piper 28. Cessna landing gear in RG models is a strange system

Is my opinions based in my experience.

Hudson Bay
10th Sep 2009, 17:02
Cessna 152 -- Best training Aircraft in the world

PA-38 Rubbish! Very poor training Aircraft. People buy them because they are cheap and nobody wants them.

Try and buy a 152, bet you can't!

A and C
10th Sep 2009, 20:04
Mickey Kaye

To answer your question the 152 is a very well sorted 150,a few well placed structual tweeks that avoid some very time consuming work in the hangar, the Lycoming has a little more power and 400 hours more to TBO and the 28V electrics are more reliable.

The only thing that is worse (for me) on the 152 is that Cessna deleated the 40 flap It was the best thing about the 150!
The reason for no 40 flap on the 152 was go around performance so perhaps in veiw of the low time pilots who fly the aiecraft it was a good idea on safety grounds.

Hudson Bay

Clearly you don't know the PA38 very well it IS a very good trainer! But due to spar life & lack of new parts it is not an economicly viable aircraft for training.

11th Sep 2009, 17:34
Clearly you don't know the PA38 very well it IS a very good trainer! But due to spar life & lack of new parts it is not an economicly viable aircraft for training.

A & C, I would not go as far as to say he does not know the Pa38 very well - read the other posts and the Pa38 seems to split instructors pretty much down the middle - I DO know the Pa38 well, have a lot of experience in a variety of trainers and am firmly in the "Its a poor trainer" camp, though I do think it has some good points, from an Instructor point of view I would rather not have any of the Piper/Cessna family, but if I was setting up a school that had to put dinner on the table I would probably go down that road:bored:

No RYR for me
12th Sep 2009, 20:07
Thanks for the responses so far. I agree with a lot of points on the current aircraft. Is there any feedback on the following aircraft:

Diamond Eclipse and Evolution DA20-C1 (2-place)
Socata TB9/10
Tutor T Mark 1 (or Grob 115E)

A and C
13th Sep 2009, 10:46
Socata TB9/10
The lower powered TB's are a bit of a disapointment mainly because the parts supply is expensive/erratic and corossion is an issue with older aircraft, If i was going to recoment a French aircraft for this mission it would be the Robin DR400-140 the parts supply may be bad from Robin but at least you can buy the airframe parts from a good wood yard!

Grob 115
An aircraft of PA38 like performance but with a slightly better criuse speed but it falls out of the spin if you just let go of the controls, In fact it is very hard to get a quicker recovery even with rapid spin recovery control input.
I cant comment on parts supply but we have had no problems from Grob with glider parts.
Please don't think that the G115 is the same aircraft as the G115 Tutor that the RAF use, the military airframe uses lots of Carbon & some Kevlar to reduce weight and beef up the aircraft for Aerobatics.


A very nice aircraft but I am so disapointed with the construction, The construction technques are about 30 years adrift of the best German gliders.

The "dogtooth" leading edge is an add on that hints the wing was not very good intialy. I would guess that if the same aircraft was built by the Germans it would be 200lb lighter.


I am putting an engine back in one of these at the moment and the Rotax instalation has very bad access for maintenance, parts also seem to be a bit of an issue with the wrong bits being sent by the factory, this will all put the hourly rate on the aircraft up.

The up side to the Rotax instalation is that Mogas should be used this will keep the cost down (rotax fuel burn is good anyway), using Avgas will result in lead deposits in the engine that will result in maintenance issues.

I have yet to fly the aircraft but it seems popular with club members, however most of the training seems to go to the clubs C152,s

14th Sep 2009, 15:04
SR 20 is a very hard plane to land for newbies. It's terrific, difficult to stall, fast, large cabin...but i dont think its a good plane for training especially those guys with zero experience. Spare parts are expensive, 50 hrs check, TBO 2000 hrs. Overall its a nice plane for ownership.

20th Sep 2009, 16:22
I would vote for the Citabria as the best 2 seat trainer. Easy to fly and you can do basic acro with them. Best 4 seat is of course the 172.

20th Sep 2009, 20:55
Wot's wrong with the Chipmunk? Ideal 2 seat trainer - if a little quirky today with the tailwheel.

20th Sep 2009, 23:56
They quit making the chipmunk quite a while ago. The tail wheel is a plus for training in.

A and C
21st Sep 2009, 06:54
As an aircraft for flying the DHC-1 is ideal, just tricky enough to keep a student honest but it gives plenty of warning before it bites you! the best part of 50 years as the RAF's basic trainer says it all.

The down side

The thing costs a fortune to run, it was built by a British company (yes I know it was the Canadian part of the company) that had no idea about the cost of parts and maintenance, let me give you an example of two aircraft built for a military role at about the same time......

DHC-1 vs PA-18

The DHC-1 has a TNS (AD) on a bolt on the tailwheel support that needs inspection and replacing occasionaly this is how the costs pan out:-

Non standard bolt 80 (not drilled for split pin)
Spilt pin 0.10
Time to fit & drill split pin hole 1.3 hours @ 40/hour= 53.33.

Total cost 133.43 !!!!!!!

PA-18 tailwhell support bolt replacement

Standard AN bolt 3.5 (Drilled)
Cotter (split) pin 0.10
Time to fit 0.5 hour @ 40 hour= 20

Total cost 23.60.

This type of engineering is found all over the DHC-1 and you can see why that a first class aircraft from a flying point of view is a total non starter from an economic stance.

It also is a clear example of the reason that the British aircraft industry cant build a light aircraft that will sell!

Cows getting bigger
21st Sep 2009, 08:18
4-seat, well as already said it has to be between the 172 and the 28. Personally, I think the 172 is a bit better although students need to work a little harder at getting a good landing (not a bad thing). But I would say that both aircraft are a little heavy and 'dulled-down' for basic training. Great navigation and touring platforms but they just hide some of the finer points when teaching aircraft handling skills. So, that takes me on to two seaters.

I think the 152 is hard to beat and some of that may be due to training methods being built around the unbiquitous aircraft type over the decades! If the new Skycatcher handles anything like the 152 it will be a massive success. I don't particularly warm to the Tomahawk (I think it is the T-tail that does it) but it is also a fine training aircraft. Some of the new pretenders are well worth a look. AT-3, Tecnam 2002 etc all handle very nicely in the air; time will tell whether they are robust enough. Finally, I would agree with polyfibre - a nice simple Citabria would be a delight to teach on. Do you want to go 50:50 on one? :)

21st Sep 2009, 13:08
You chaps should come and fly a C42 or Eurostar! I did all my training and first 200 hours on PA38 and C150 and I cant beleive why anyone would choose to fly them now (apart from licensing issues) Microlight training aircraft knock GA trainers into a cocked hat!! - cheap operation too!

Mickey Kaye
22nd Sep 2009, 21:19
A and C could I ask for some of your knowledge. I believe that the spar is lifed at 11,000 (although there is a mod to extend it to 18000 hours ?) and this is the reason you say that they are no longer economical to operate.

Recently an example close to my home base was sold for under 10 grand. It had just under 5000 hours on the airframe and 1900 hours on the engine. I prefer tomahawks over C152 and was certainly tempted. I also felt that the 6000 hours flying it had got left would take some 10 plus years of pretty intense usage to fly off so the spar life limit doesn't really sound too prohibitve. Especially when you take into account the depressed purchase price of a tomahawk compared to C152.

So if someone takes the hit that one day the airframe will be worthless is the Tomahawk still a non runner on economic grounds for any other reasons?

23rd Sep 2009, 03:57
I can't resist any longer!!
I have got to put a plug in for the PA38.
I've got a couple of thousand hours training in them as well as a few thousand more using C150/152's and the PA38 produces better ab-initio pilots.If you can fly the Tomahawk well, the others are an easy transition.
The same doesn't happen moving from the Cessna to the Tomahawk however.

24th Sep 2009, 20:19
Especially if you can afford the 260hp version!

A and C
25th Sep 2009, 09:51
Mickey Kaye

First I have to say that from a pure pilot training perspective I far prefer the PA38 to the Cessna 152, with over 1000 hours flying PA38's I think I have had enough time to mmke up my mind!

The spar life is at the root of the PA38's problems as parts supply is getting to be a problem because no one whants to make them for an aircraft with a limmited life, I seem to remember having trouble getting hold of a nose gear leg (upper) 5 or 6 years back and I dont think that things have improved.

Apart from the spar there are quite a few repedditive AD's on the tail section including a frame inspection that is a bit involved.

One real weak spot with the aircraft is that more than a light collision with a fixed object at the wing tip results in a major repair job that could wright off the aircraft. What happens is when the wing tip hits the object the main spar flexes aft and the rear spar is forced inwards and the force of the impact is transmitted to the rear spar carry through frame. It will wrinkle and has to be replaced, this involves lotts of work including removing the wing and de-riveting the baggage bay floor. If you do nothing else when looking at th PA38 take up the rear of the seat pan's and look at this frame........ if it is bent walk away!!!!

The company I was working for found that the PA38 was costing more to maintain than the PA28 and so withdrew the PA38 from service on economic grounds.

PM me if you need to know more.

Vortex Thing
5th Oct 2009, 03:01
As many posts suggest it really does depend on where your students are going with their flying, what their background is, what demographic you are targetting, where you are operating from, etc to mention but a few.

I would vote for a sturdy low wing trainer everyday of the week and would be happy to never see a C.150 or C.152 anywhere but a museum. They are just to underpowered

If money is an issue then the PA28 family and the Robin family are all wonderful, forgiving trainers.

I have nothing against high wings but for our general weather and flying conditions unless your students intend to purely fly GA local flying I would suggest the way forward to be low wing as a trainer and if they wish to move on to C172 et al after they gain a licence then so be it.

Happy hunting :)

A and C
6th Oct 2009, 21:47
I agreee with you about the Slingsby & Robin being good aircraft but I have to live in the world of cost.

Flying is expensive and to get the Maximum number of customers into the air we must look at the cost.

I own a Robin and with what I know about it don't see it as an aircraft that will make much money in a training/club enviroment.

The Slingsby I suspect would be slightly better at making money but still sufers from the British problem of over engineering................... go price a nose leg!

Legal Beagle
8th Oct 2009, 19:42
On the subject of over-engineering it is clearly time to put a word in for the dear old Beagle Pup!

Yes, overbuilt, expensive to run and all the rest of it, but delightful to fly....excellent control harmonisation and response, with a control stick not a yoke, good visibility from the cockpit and - OK, only the 150 hp version! - a decent rate of climb and good performance.

All round a classic training aircraft. What a pity the production design let it down.

Yes, of course I am biased. But then, if you've not flown a Pup go and beg a flight in one. You will be astonished just how good they are.

A and C
9th Oct 2009, 15:42
I refer you to post #22 above!

9th Oct 2009, 16:56
Having flow 118 different types and air tested most of them, without doubt the best training aircraft is the SIAI Marchetti SF. 260. It does everything! and equally well as both a two seat and four. But try and find one! most ended up in the USA I think and many went to airforces around the world. Don't compare anything until you've flown one. Good excuse for a trip to the USA, perhaps?


Charlie Foxtrot India
11th Oct 2009, 04:34
The Tomahawk is a great little trainner and economical to run. I've owned several of them for over ten years and have around 6000 hours in them, (lucky me!)

The wing life can be extended with an STC in most countries to 17,000 hours. Most parts are interchangeable with other Pipers. And for those of us of average height for whom this is our workplace, it is comfortable and you are not in each other's personal space. An hour in a 152 and I'm feeling like a sardine. And I like to be able to see where I'm going in a turn.

The people who knock them have usually never flown them and listened to the aero club bar rubbish about wobbly tails (anyone who says they are looking at the tail in a spin rather than effecting a recovery would not be welcome to hire any of my fleet) which of course all aircraft have, just watch them in the run up bay! Ask an engineer what would happen if the tail was too rigid.

I'm gradually replacing my Tomahawks with brand new Boomerangs because they are similar enough to allow students to swap from one to the other with ease. I still use the Tomahawk for stall training. If the Tomahawk hadn't been economical to run I wouldn't be able to afford brand new aircraft, I have been able to build up my whole business thanks to the Tomahawks. If the Boomerangs weren't around, I would stick with the Tomahawks.

Each to thier own!

A and C
11th Oct 2009, 06:51
To the best of my knowlage EASA has yet to approve the PA38 spar life extention and I think that they would charge a lot for doing it.

This fact alone makes the PA38 uneconomic to continue to use in Europe.

The only way forward is if a number of PA38 owners got together and got EASA to approve the modification' this is the only way to get the cost per aircraft down to an economicly realistic level.

( this is the point when some obscure operator chirps up and says they have EASA aproval for this!!)

11th Oct 2009, 07:34
The people who knock them have usually never flown them and listened to the aero club bar rubbish about wobbly tails (anyone who says they are looking at the tail in a spin rather than effecting a recovery would not be welcome to hire any of my fleet)

CFI, I think you will find many of those who knock the Pa38 HAVE flown them - and also flown a lot of other types, the question I would ask is, what are you comparing it to? If it is the C152 that is one thing, but have you flown Robin 2160/Beagle Pup/Chippy etc? As far as looking back at the tail whilst spinning goes, that is the advantage of a two seater - one person can fly the aircraft and do the recovery and the other can look at what is going on:rolleyes:

A and C
12th Oct 2009, 20:34
You might like to take a look at The Two C152's that I lease.

I don't do junk and have invested a lot of time & money, unfortunatly the aviaton public or should I say a large percentage prefer to rent junk for a few less and think it is a good deal.

I have a reasonable customer base now and they don't give me any trouble providing a reasonable income.

However it has become clear that the flying public buys on price alone and is quite happy to fly around in under maintained aircraft with 50% of the (old)avionics not working, ripped seats and that smell as if some sort of pond life lives in the (threadbare) carpet.

Capt. Spock
10th Jan 2011, 18:27
Some of the new pretenders are well worth a look. AT-3, Tecnam 2002 etc all handle very nicely in the air; time will tell whether they are robust enough.

Let's bring this thread back up. Any recent feedback? It would nice to hear especially about the VLAs (DV-20 / DA-20, Tecnam P92 / 2002, Aquila, AT-3) as they are becoming more and more popular in flight training environment.

I have personally flown the Tecnam P92 and would say that it teaches good stick and rudder skills. It also has good visibility and climb performance. However as a light aircraft it is obviously more limited weather and crosswind. Due low wing loading it is also rather uncomfortable in turbulence and cabin heat is not the most effective when outside air temperature goes bellow zero. Getting the mass and balance within the envelope may also cause trouble and it is not very roomy from inside either.

Not maybe the very best training aircraft from instructor's point of view but then again it burns 15 liters of MOGAS and I haven't seen any major maintenance issues.

jez d
12th Jan 2011, 12:52
With Avgas soaring to a predicted 2 per litre by March, I'd look for something powered by a Rotax.

This year's rising costs, coupled with EASA's regulatory takeover next year to include the re-register of RFs to FTOs, makes me wonder how many PPL schools are still going to be around in a couple of year's time.

Tough times ahead.

Regards, jez

P.S. Happy New Year to you all ;)

17th Jan 2011, 11:01
It's type certified (not an LSA), stall and spin endorsed, has a 4 cylinder continental (125Bhp)
Landing characteristics are docile, the aircraft is overall light but stable thanks to electric (spring loaded) trim and balanced ailerons. I've flown C150, 152, 172, 182 and they are great but both the 150 and 170's are underpowered (under performing) and the 182 is too complex for ab initio training.

28th Jan 2011, 15:28
I have flown Grob 115B not the Grob 115E.

The handling of the -115B is really good and responsive.
The body is quite light. The engine if i'm not wrong its rated 160hp or 180hp. i cant remember the exact number.

It glides quite well and really refuse to land. Its a beaut to handle. :cool:

29th Jan 2011, 16:51
>Tomahawk "tomasa" in my country and one Piper 28 with unless 160 HP.
>I never have flied one Tomasa but I think is a dangerous airplane to show
>STALL. Piper 28 for me inside is not very comfortable you are dived inside.

The Tomahawk (PA-38) is just fine in the stall - recovery is really simple and I've not yet died doing one :-) The trick is not to look behind you whilst doing it, though, cos the tail waggles about like that of an excited labrador in the disturbed air which can cause brown trouser syndrome if you're not expecting it!

Only problem I've found flying the PA-38, apart from the crap latches on the canopy and a dodgy mike switch on the one I used to fly, is a heavier-than-expected landing. Because the landing gear is so rudimentary (a long lump of steel with a wheel at the end) it's very springy and can tend to chuck you back into the air rather vigorously. I whacked one down a bit hard at Fenland once and found myself back in the sky rather unexpectedly, with the nose pointing oddly upward. Not long after that an instructor friend wasn't quite quick enough to stop a PA-38 banging its nose on a tarmac runway after his student landed hard, pogoed into the air, and stuck the nose markedly down in reaction to the bounce.