Air Plains Services Passes Milestone – 2,500th 180 HP Kit for Cessna 172s

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Air Plains Services, a world leader in extreme performance upgrades for a variety of general aviation aircraft models, marked a major milestone in September with its 2,500th 180 HP engine upgrade for Cessna 172 piston aircraft. The milestone 172XP Extreme Performance engine upgrade was installed on N733EA, a 1977 Cessna 172N.

“The rate of climb with the new O360 engine is fantastic and the customer service at Air Plains was really great,” said Brandon Johnson, who spends his work hours flying international hops in a G550 for a Fortune 100 company, and is based in St. Paul, MN. “The Air Plains solution was the most reliable for us and gives us the biggest bang for the buck.”

Johnson managed much of the upgrade process for the 172N, owned by his parents, Scott and Patty Johnson. Scott is the police chief in Grand Rapids, MN. Brandon logged many of his 6,000 flight hours on the aircraft (about 15 hours already on the new engine) and is set to take ownership down the road.  

“TBO was looming so I started running the numbers on our options – overhaul the original O-320-H2AD or get another new or overhauled 160 horse power engine, or go for the 180 horse power,” Johnson continued. “I did a lot of research through the many forums out there and talked to a lot of owners and A&Ps. Dad wanted a new engine and the Air Plains 180 horse power solution was the most comprehensive. When I talked to them on the phone, I was sold.”

 Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Air Plains’ most well-known line of business comes from its range of Extreme Performance (XP) kits designed for a large part of the world’s population of Cessna 172s, 180s and 182s, including the 182RG. The company not only performs installations at its Wellington facility, but ships complete, ready-to-install kits around the world, supported through a global distribution network and round-the-clock customer support.

“Their customer service is awesome,” Johnson said. “They worked with me on scheduling, and then kept me in the loop through every step of the process. Their customer service is really on par with Gulfstream.”  

Specifically, Air Plains offers 180 horsepower engine upgrade solutions for the Cessna 172 based on the Lycoming O-360, and 300 horsepower engine solutions based on either the Continental IO-520 or IO-550 for the Cessna 180 and 182. The resulting 172XP, 180XP and 182XP aircraft all share increased cruise speed, range, rate of climb and gross weight, as well as lower lifecycle maintenance costs. 

Air Plains is an FAA Certified Repair Station, a Certified Cessna Service Center, owns 20 Supplemental Type Certificates including five for engine upgrades, and its machine shop can produce any of more than 500 PMA part numbers for a variety of aircraft.

Air Plains also performs a wide array of scheduled maintenance and inspection activities, custom airframe and interior work and specializing in custom avionics panels, avionics upgrades including ADS-B, airframe repair, and complete tech support.