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Cessna 170 Guide

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A 1953 model Cessna 170B w/180hp conversion on skis
A 1956 model Cessna 170B
Lucky Rose, a 220HP modified 1956 Cessna 170B on floats near Brainerd, MN
A float-equipped 170A

Welcome to the Cessna 170 Guide, a documentation project and knowledge database for piloting, maintaining, and documenting the classic single-engine 4-seat conventional gear aircraft that helped transition general aviation into the modern age.

The purpose of this website is simple: To provide a user-maintained documentation source for the collective knowledge of 170 owners and pilots worldwide, in an encyclopedia-style format.

Information and techniques for maintaining the 170 series aircraft far transcend official publications such as the Cessna 100 Series Service Manual and the Illustrated Parts Manual. While these publications are rather comprehensive, the online Cessna 170 Guide can help to correlate information contained in both documents in a relative and searchable format, as well as the extremely comprehensive discussion forum of the International Cessna 170 Association, which contains years of owner discussion covering most known issues and topics.


Aircraft Documentation

The aircraft documentation page ideally will provide the technical skeleton of this guide, presented in an outline format and anchoring many sub-topics. If you're looking for a specific topic or component of the Cessna 170, start by searching, or visiting the Aircraft Documentation page, or by drilling into one of the following major sections:


Topics under this section include the construction, maintenance, and repair of the fuselage, empennage, wings, control surfaces, control systems, and spring steel landing gear.


Topics under this section include construction, maintenance, and repair of the originally spec'd Continental C-145/O-300 as well as conversion engines such as the Continental IO-360, Lycoming O-360, and Franklin 350.


Topics under this section include specification, maintenance, and repair of the fixed pitch McCauley and Sensensich propellers that originally came with the 170, as well as constant speed conversions that often accompany engine conversions.

Landing Gear

Topics under this section include design-description, characteristics, evolution, maintenance, and service history of the landing-gear and gear-box that originally came with the 170.

Fuel System

Topics under this section include design and maintenance of the system responsible for storage and delivery of fuel to the engine. This includes tanks, valves, fuel lines, filtration, and fuel compatibility.

Electrical System

Topics under this section include design and maintenance of the system responsible for storage and delivery of electrical current to dependent electronic systems such as engine starter, avionics, lighting, as well as engine ignition.

Avionics and Instrumentation

Topics under the section include any and all panel instrumentation, which includes both flight instruments and engine monitoring instruments. Avionics such as radios, transponders, intercoms, and GPS receivers are also in this section.


Cessna 170 Specifications
Crew 1
Fuselage length 24 ft 11.5 in
Wingspan 36 ft
Height 6 ft 7 in (standard)
Empty weight ~1,250-1,350 lb
(varies per configuration)
Max gross weight 2,200 lb
Useful load 850-950 lb
(varies w/ empty wt)
Fuel Capacity 42 gal (37.5 usable)
Engine Continental C-145/O-300 145hp @ 2700 rpm (standard)
Propeller 76" 2-blade fixed pitch (McCauley or Sensenich)
Specifications are for aircraft at time of manufacture. Empty weight changes over time with configuration and modification.

Type Certificate Data Sheet

The basic specifications regarding operating limits and performance data per configuration can be found on the Type Certificate Data Sheet.

Model Distinction

There are 3 iterations of the Cessna 170: The 170, 170A, and 170B. While production models only range from 1948-1956, there are some significant differences between the 3 models.



The Cessna 170 is type-certified by the Federal Aviation Administration under CFR 14 Part 23. Read more about Type Certificates and view the data sheet.

Airworthiness Directives

The Cessna 170 has one of the shortest Airworthiness Directive (AD) lists of any FAA certified aircraft in history, which means it had very few minor design flaws as released from the Cessna factory.

Service Bulletins

Operation and Performance

The discussion potential for best practices for operation of the 170 is vast. While performance data is published in the Airplane Flight Manual and Pilot Operating Handbook, experience has generated a few conclusions.


While some feel that the 170 as it rolled off the Wichita, KS manufacturing line was perfect, others feel that it still has much room left for improvement. Since the 170 is an FAA certified aircraft, it must be modified in accordance with FAA guidelines, as all deviations from the original Type Certificate are subject to approval.

Recommended Modifications

Fifty plus years of ownership have resulted in some recommended modifications by the 170 community. These are not mandated in any way, but as you will read, some do have safety implications.

Supplemental Type Certificates

Many Supplemental Type Certificates, or STC's, are available for modifications that have been pre-approved by the FAA. These mods are backed by official engineering and test data, and simply require filing of a routine 337 form upon installation.

Field Approvals

When an STC cannot be acquired or purchased for a desired modification, it must be submitted for approval by the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) on a 337 form. The number of field approvals granted by contemporary FSDO's is relatively low.


During the late 1940s through the mid-1950s over 5,000 Cessna 170s were manufactured and well over half that number survive today. This alone should indicate that this aircraft has certain qualities that make it a desirable aircraft to own and has also gained it recognition as a Neo-Classic in various aircraft organizations.

The Cessna 170 began it’s life looking much like it’s little brother, the Cessna 140. In fact, the 1948 C170 is quite often mistaken for the smaller two-place C140 by the casual observer. In 1948, Cessna expanded and stretched the 140 to make it a four-place aircraft and called it the 170. It had no dorsal fin, had fabric-covered wings, vee-type wing struts and three C140 fuel tanks to give it the necessary range for it’s larger engine. The engine used was a Continental C145 (later designated the O-300A) and would be used throughout the entire production run of Cessna 170s. more...