Max Q
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Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:24 am

I think certain designs are so visionary and well thought out that with continual updating they will never be obsolete.


Example, the C130 and the F16, I know there are others, the DC3 for example.


What am I missing ?
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GST
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sat Feb 23, 2013 1:37 pm

Perhaps the definition of the word "never". Chariots were used in battle for thousands of years but are sure as hell obsolete now.
 
aklrno
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sat Feb 23, 2013 6:30 pm

The SR-71 may be obsolete some day, but it still holds a lot of speed and altitude records. It was designed more than 50 years ago.

Of course it may have been surpassed by something at Area 51 we don't know about.
 
vikkyvik
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:35 pm

Quoting aklrno (Reply 2):
The SR-71 may be obsolete some day, but it still holds a lot of speed and altitude records. It was designed more than 50 years ago.

That could simply mean that it's been determined that there's no need for a particular aircraft's capabilities anymore - that its mission is obsolete.
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SCAT15F
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:17 pm

There are some other possible contenders;

Mig-21

Northrop T-38/F-5

Tu-95 Bear

Lockheed Electra/P-3

B-52
 
rfields5421
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sun Feb 24, 2013 1:09 am

Quoting Max Q (Thread starter):
I think certain designs are so visionary and well thought out that with continual updating they will never be obsolete.


Example, the C130 and the F16, I know there are others, the DC3 for example.

The DC-3 isn't visionary. It is evolutionary. An improved version of the DC-2, and even that was an improved version of the DC-1.

Timing is a part of the definition of a great design. The DC-3 was certainly the peak of the tail dragger twin engine airliner/ cargo plane - but there would never have been a thousand built if it was not for WWII.

There were just 607 DC-3s models built - but over 15,000+ militarized versions of the aircraft were built.

It was the surplus market of some 8,000 or more C-47s after the war which put the DC-3 model type all over the globe.

The aircraft was already being bypassed in favor of orders for the DC-4 when civilian production was stopped in 1942.

I'm not dismissing the DC-3 as a great aircraft.

The DC-3 was a fantastic aircraft which brought aviation to much of the world. Perhaps the greatest commercial prop aircraft ever built due to its impact on the future of aviation - safe, reliable, easily maintained. Being able to fly on several from Vietnam to the Philippines to Mississippi to Antigua is one of the things I've been lucky enough to do in my lifetime.

The only other aircraft which approaches the DC-3 is the B737 series for its impact upon aviation - bring commercially viable jet travel to the corners of the world.
 
HaveBlue
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sun Feb 24, 2013 2:36 am

Cessna 172 - how many pilots have learned to fly in it or its smaller cousin the 152? I know I did. Stable, cheap, safe.

Huey - the word 'ubiquitous' comes to mind.. we're up to the Yankee model in the military now, still used worldwide civilian and militarily.. and my Dad flew them in Nam and still til this day but civilian.

707 and KC-135 family - It amazes me that the first generation jet airliner is still being used by the military 60 years later.. still tanking, AWACs'ing, surveilling, etc. In the Golden Era of aviation in the 50's/60's if you told Boeing we'd still be flying their first attmept at a jet airliner 6 decades later they would have thought you were insane. KC-135, E-3, E-6, E-8, RC-135, Air Force One, etc. What a plane!

U-2 - Still being used, and heavily from an article in Air & Space last summer, over active battle zones and in ways it wasn't even 20 years ago. Again when the SR-71 and its sister the A-12 were coming alive if you told Kelly Johnson that his slow, less glamorous design would be flying well into the 21 century and after his amazing Blackbird was relegated to museums...

C-130 - Much like the KC-135 the Herc has been used for just about everything you can think of, and has long outlived its designers wildest ambitions of longevity I am sure. From Hurricane Hunting to firefighting to the bad a** AC-130 and more its still alive and kicking.

But on pure brilliant design of aircraft, regardless of the mission going away, the SR-71 and XB-70 take the cake in my opinion. So ground breaking, so revolutionary, so ahead of their time. In the days of slide rules and now antiquated looking cars those aircraft still seem space age and set records that are unbelievable. Supercruise? How bout Mach 3+ for HOURS!
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BMI727
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:03 am

Quoting Max Q (Thread starter):

I think certain designs are so visionary and well thought out that with continual updating they will never be obsolete.

I tend to disagree. Some planes can be improved upon, but aren't. It could be that there is no effective countermeasure, better replacements, lack of political will, or lack of funding.

Quoting Max Q (Thread starter):
the C130

More modern techniques could yield a more efficient and effective tactical transport. For that matter, you might argue that in some ways the A400M is just that. But, the C-130 still does well enough and sinking money into a new plane is not something that's going to happen.

Quoting Max Q (Thread starter):
the F16,

That one's starting to hit its limits. Sure it can be maneuverable, but how maneuverable with all of the newer electronics and a full battle load hanging off of it? And there isn't much you can do to make it low observable.

Quoting aklrno (Reply 2):
The SR-71 may be obsolete some day, but it still holds a lot of speed and altitude records. It was designed more than 50 years ago.

You could almost argue it already is. We probably could build a faster, higher flying spyplane today and fit it with better cameras (maybe we already did). But, why bother when nobody has been able to seriously threaten the SR-71? And satellites can do much of the same things with less danger politically.

Quoting SCAT15F (Reply 4):
B-52

This plane is really old and not obsolete. But, I don't think it is anything about the B-52 that makes it that way. The B-52 would be completely outclassed and obsolete if used in its original role today, but it's still useful because of advances in modern weapons. Any half decent air defense system would slaughter B-52s, but used as a truck to haul a crap load of cruise missiles it's as good as anything out there.
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rwessel
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:06 am

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 7):
Quoting aklrno (Reply 2):
The SR-71 may be obsolete some day, but it still holds a lot of speed and altitude records. It was designed more than 50 years ago.

You could almost argue it already is. We probably could build a faster, higher flying spyplane today and fit it with better cameras (maybe we already did). But, why bother when nobody has been able to seriously threaten the SR-71? And satellites can do much of the same things with less danger politically.

Satellites have their limitations (low resolution and inflexibility), but can do more long term surveillance than aircraft ever could. Aircraft based cameras can get a much closer (and more timely) look at things, but can only observe relative small areas for relatively short periods of time.

As for the SR-71's mission, much of that on the low-threat end of the scale is duplicated by the U-2 and UAVs, and UAVs can be used in moderately high threat areas as a pretty high loss rate is acceptable. The question is how much of a mission that leaves for an SR-71-like platform. And would something like an F-22 be able to perform at least some of that too?
 
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Francoflier
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:59 am

It's not about defying obsolescence, it's more of a case where the mission the aircraft was originally design to fulfill has remained pretty much the same, or hasn't evolved enough that minor modifications couldn't allow it to keep up.

As BMI727 said, you could come up with a better version of all these airplanes, but there is no economical point in doing so as the current ones still do the job well (enough).
I'll do my own airline. With Blackjack. And hookers. In fact, forget the airline.
 
Max Q
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:46 am

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 5):
The DC-3 isn't visionary.

I disagree, it revolutionized air travel. Furthermore it is still being used, seventy eight years after it's first flight !


Re-engined with turboprops there is still nothing that can touch it in it's class, it has it's own class !



There is simply no other Aircraft that can provide the same level of performance in such an economical, simple and robust platform.



Likewise the C130 will carry on, it may not be able to carry the biggest payloads in service today but it can carry most of them and a lot cheaper than an A400 which is a superb Aircraft, it's just in a different category.
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rfields5421
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sun Feb 24, 2013 2:35 pm

Quoting Max Q (Reply 10):
I disagree, it revolutionized air travel.

It didn't revolutionize air travel. It CREATED popular air travel as a realistic alternative to train travel in the US.

However, for its original purpose, it was made obsolete only after 500 or so aircraft were built, but the Douglas Company DC-4.

Had WWII not come along and built the 15,000+ military versions, the DC-3 would be remembered only as the last tail dragger. It certainly would not be the legendary aircraft it is today.

What made the DC-3 the icon it is for aviation today was its availability in huge numbers after the war. Before the war most DC-3s were flown in the US. Only a few in Europe and almost none in Latin America or Asia.

The DC-3 is was not a new design, a new concept, a great leap forward in technology - it was an evolution of previous designs.

The DC-1, DC-2 and DC-3 were created to compete with the revolutionary all metal B-247. Boeing made a huge mistake in its monoply arrangement with United Airlines.

By refusing to sell the B-247 to other airlines, Boeing literally gave business to Douglas, and justified a much heaver investment in research and development of evolutionary technology that made the DC-3 a huge success.

Boeing also beat Douglas to the pressurized airliner flight line - with the B-307.
 
BMI727
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sun Feb 24, 2013 4:24 pm

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 11):
Had WWII not come along and built the 15,000+ military versions, the DC-3 would be remembered only as the last tail dragger. It certainly would not be the legendary aircraft it is today.

  What made the DC-3 so influential and ubiquitous among airlines wasn't anything particularly special or revolutionary about its design. As has been pointed out, it was an evolution of the DC-2 and similar to the Boeing 247.

What allowed the DC-3 to be as influential as it was in the development of airlines was the fact that thousands of them were available dirt cheap to pretty much anybody who wanted them. I'd speculate that had WWII not intervened, we'd remember the Boeing 307 as the more influential aircraft and the DC-3 as being good, but not a legend.
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:09 pm

Quoting GST (Reply 1):
Chariots were used in battle for thousands of years but are sure as hell obsolete now.

I'm not at all sure about hell, so...

Quoting francoflier (Reply 9):
It's not about defying obsolescence, it's more of a case where the mission the aircraft was originally design to fulfill has remained pretty much the same, or hasn't evolved enough that minor modifications couldn't allow it to keep up.

As BMI727 said, you could come up with a better version of all these airplanes, but there is no economical point in doing so as the current ones still do the job well (enough).

I'm starting to think the same about the An-124. It's something that was invented for/by the Soviet military, and it still does that job, as well as flying all around the world carrying commercial out-sized cargo. There is enough business for it to justify continued investment in the D-18T series of engines that it uses. From what I'm reading the first two series had dreadful time-on-wing numbers, but series 3 and 4 are much better.

Clearly its use in the commercial space was enabled by the breakup of the USSR, but I'm thinking it's going to be in service for decades to come because nothing else will be out there to do its job.

For instance the 747-8 production thread notes that Boeing just hired the An-124 to take two fuse shells from Vought/Triumph in Texas to KPAE because one had been damaged during assembly and they needed a replacement ASAP. It was also mentioned that Rolls and GE often use An-124s to move their largest engines to KPAE. It just doesn't pay to keep such valuable assets as high end jet aircraft engines or satellites or rockets sitting around on trucks or ships or rail cars.

Kind of cool to see a former cold war military asset being used to help produce modern commercial aircraft!
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Oroka
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sun Feb 24, 2013 7:47 pm

Depends on the situation.

I wouldnt call the C-130 or B-52 brilliant designs, just designs that kept getting updated rather than new designs made to replace it. Technology in some fields is getting to the point of it taking a massive engineering undertaking and massive amounts of money to get a measurable increase in capability. F-35, F-22 for example. They (do/will) out class everything in their class, but it took 20 years and insane amounts of money to get there... to the extent of if it is worth the money for the advances in design.

Take the F-15. When it came out, it was the best. Over time, to got better, and took on new roles (F-15E), developed advanced technologies (F-15 STOL/MTD and F-15 ACTIVE), and even kinda challenged 5th gen designs (F-15SE). If Boeing took the 2D nozzels from the STOL/MTD (updated versions), threw it on a F-15SE with some additional contouring to enhance its stealth qualities... it would be a decent second to the F-22.

That does not make it Brilliant, just not really worth replacing with a totally new design. How do you improve on a B-52 to do exactly the job it does now? Minor upgrades, keep it modern and safe, that is it. Unless there is some colossal change in tactics (say China pulls a space capable hyper sonic bomber out of their collective butts), why spend money on something that is not needed?

SR-71, reigning spy champ, left to rot in museums. It was a capability that was no longer needed... so why improve on or replace it. Not saying it wasnt a brilliant design, it was, but its skills were no longer needed.
 
petertenthije
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:17 pm

I would suggest the C.172, but that one has already been mentioned. So my second pick is for the Antonov An-2. It might not be glamorous, but it gets the job done. It keeps on going no matter the weather, the infrastructure (or lack thereofit) or the level of maintenance (or lack thereofit).

In the same class, the Twin Otter. De Havilland stopped building them in 1988, but production was restarted in 2008 by Viking Air. That's got to count for something.
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Max Q
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:33 am

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 11):

It didn't revolutionize air travel. It CREATED popular air travel as a realistic alternative to train travel in the US.

Semantics, fact is it did revolutionize air travel, especially from the standpoint of the Airlines, it was the first Aircraft they could make money with.
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scbriml
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:28 pm

Quoting aklrno (Reply 2):
The SR-71 may be obsolete some day

Huh? It's been obsolete since 1998. If it wasn't, it would still be in service.
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aklrno
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:05 am

Quoting scbriml (Reply 17):
Quoting aklrno (Reply 2):
The SR-71 may be obsolete some day

Huh? It's been obsolete since 1998. If it wasn't, it would still be in service.

I have a slightly different view. It is no longer the most cost effective way of accomplishing the mission. That may be satellites these days. As an airplane it has not been surpassed. Satellites have to be launched or positioned or just have to wait for the orbit to line up for use. Aircraft can go when needed. I'd like to hear the opinion of the reconnaissance community to know if it is really obsolete or just too expensive for current budgets. I suspect they aren't going to tell me.
 
HaveBlue
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:44 am

Quoting scbriml (Reply 17):
Huh? It's been obsolete since 1998. If it wasn't, it would still be in service.

I agree with aklrno. The SR-71 was retired primarily due to cost imo. The U-2/TR-1 is still in service, very much a player in the Middle East over active conflicts. An article from last year in Air & Space magazine said that pilots were flying longer sorties and at a higher frequency then in the history of the program (since 9/11). This has caused serious issues with pilots having nitrogen related issues (Bends). In spite of this, the USAF passed over an upgrade to the Global Hawk in favor of upgrading and continuing on with the U-2 platform.. citing the expensive cost of the GH as not being much cheaper overall. If the U-2/TR-1 are still being used, and heavily, even in this day of drones/UAV's.. how much better would it be to have the SR-71 still available as an option?

Also, and I've been wanting to address this for a long time, the UAV accident rate is abysmal. According to USAF AIB reports there were 8 losses in 2008, 11 in '09, 8 in '10, 13 in '11 including a Global Hawk, and 4 last year.

I'm just saying that if satellites and UAV/UCAV's alone could handle the recon work, the U-2/TR-1 would have been retired long ago. There is still a need for real time recon and I still think the Blackbird does it best. The $250 million it cost the USAF to operate a squadron of Blackbirds for a year (and that's a legit figure) is well worth it for the capability it gave us.
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C46
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:07 am

I'll add another approach – the GE TF39 engine. I think the high-bypass turbofan engines derived from the TF-39 will far outlast us. Absolutely brilliant in its design.
 
Oroka
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:15 am

Quoting HaveBlue (Reply 19):
Also, and I've been wanting to address this for a long time, the UAV accident rate is abysmal. According to USAF AIB reports there were 8 losses in 2008, 11 in '09, 8 in '10, 13 in '11 including a Global Hawk, and 4 last year.

UAVs are a new development... a whole new class of technology. Look at early jet fighter design... losses there were quite high too. Heck, just stepping into a F-104 was tempting fate. UAVs are a tech that needs maturing, not a complete failure.

The SR-71 was expensive, and the need to zoom out over enemy controlled airspace has vanished. Satellite surveillance has matured since the days that needed the SR-71. Could it do the job? Sure, but it was like taking a assault rifle to a knife fight, a simple hand gun would do the job   The threat to the U-2 that spawned the SR-71 has come and passed. The U-2 was set free, the SR-71 was out of a job.
 
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scbriml
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:22 am

Quoting aklrno (Reply 18):
It is no longer the most cost effective way of accomplishing the mission. That may be satellites these days.
Quoting HaveBlue (Reply 19):
The SR-71 was retired primarily due to cost imo.

Obsolete - adj. No longer in use.

The reason for the SR-71's obsolescence is by the by. The simple fact is, it is no longer in use.

Quoting HaveBlue (Reply 19):
There is still a need for real time recon and I still think the Blackbird does it best.

This is exactly the reason the SR-71 is obsolete and why the U-2 is still flying. Unlike the U-2, the SR-71 was unable to provide real-time recon. It had to return to base for its images and/or radar scans to be made available. The U-2 is able to provide a real-time uplink to satellite.

Nobody could like the SR-71 more than me, but it's had its day.
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rwessel
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:17 am

Quoting scbriml (Reply 22):
This is exactly the reason the SR-71 is obsolete and why the U-2 is still flying. Unlike the U-2, the SR-71 was unable to provide real-time recon. It had to return to base for its images and/or radar scans to be made available. The U-2 is able to provide a real-time uplink to satellite.

But that's strictly because the USAF decided not to pay for the upgrade. There was a definite history of people with other agendas (basically all pushing space based systems) refusing the funding for upgrades, and eventually the SR-71 was lacking all sorts of capabilities. Part of the problem is that the USAF never really wanted the aircraft, but had to pay for it (of course they didn't want anyone else to have it either - the A-10 has similar issues at the other end of the spectrum).

But an SR-71 upgrade (SENIOR KING) that would have provided digital imaging and satellite uplinks (amongst other things) was developed in the late 70s, for an estimated cost of about $10m per plane. It was not funded.

OTOH, it was paid for on the U-2 (which, of course, also had no real time capability at first).

Whether or not the SR-71 program *should* have been continued is a different question, but there was clearly a group that wanted to get rid of it (and they succeeded).
 
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TripleDelta
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:35 pm

Quoting HaveBlue (Reply 6):
Cessna 172 - how many pilots have learned to fly in it or its smaller cousin the 152? I know I did. Stable, cheap, safe.

While I'm a huge fan of the 172 - and in particular the thought, vision and plain common sense that went into its design - it is quite obsolete by the standards of modern light aircraft. While it still offers an enviable mixture of cost, performance and general ease of operation, it remains an aircraft designed and built according to 50s standards, regulations and norms - despite Cessna's best efforts to bring it up to date.

To show what I'm on about, I recently had the chance to log some time on the Gippsland GA-8 Airvan. A modern type, designed according to modern airworthiness regulations and ergonomics, it is twice as large and twice as heavy as the 172 - and uses pretty much the same materials and technologies. And yet, despite that it is incredibly pleasant to fly and far easier to handle than the 172. Every bit of the aircraft feels more precise, better defined and easier to control than on the Skyhawk. For example, despite carrying quite a load, I'd managed to enter, hold and leave a 75 degree bank angle turn using only three fingers on one hand to provide necessary back pressure - a task that would be nigh on impossible in the Skyhawk. On landing as well, with the main wheels on the ground, the yoke is so fine and precise that you have true analog control when lowering the nose wheel - rather than the jerky and sometimes abrupt movements seen on the 172 (and the GA-8 is not much of a STOL type, with stall, take-off and landing speeds roughly in the Skyhawk's ballpark). All of this is down almost squarely to today's more stringent and demanding airworthiness regulations - as acknowledged by Gippsland themselves  .

The reason the 172 - as well as it's contemporaries, the Warrior and Bonanza - have survived this long in production is mostly because they give the "most bang for the buck", rather than still being design leaders in their field. When the Big Three eventually fully switch to newer technologies - which will have the knock-on effect of driving their costs down - these aircraft will (sadly) quickly fade away...
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Revelation
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RE: Brilliant Design Defies Obsolesence?

Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:48 am

Quoting TripleDelta (Reply 24):
While I'm a huge fan of the 172 - and in particular the thought, vision and plain common sense that went into its design - it is quite obsolete by the standards of modern light aircraft. While it still offers an enviable mixture of cost, performance and general ease of operation, it remains an aircraft designed and built according to 50s standards, regulations and norms - despite Cessna's best efforts to bring it up to date.

FWIW, that also fully describes the Schweizer 2-33 glider, still the most frequently used training glider in the USA.

The good news is that they are dirt cheap and have a steel cage that can take a heck of a pounding if the pilot screws up.

The bad news is that they teach you very little about flying any other glider you'll ever get into, other than another 50's era Schweitzer glider or its kin.

In fact they'll probably teach you very sloppy piloting because they are so damn unresponsive, and may put you in danger when you transition because they're almost impossible to spin.
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