For instance, on a Cessna 172 what percent is spent on:

  • Raw materials
  • Labor actually manufacturing the plane
  • Testing the completed individual planes
  • R&D Making the plane (at this point, very little for the 172 I suspect
  • Certification testing
  • Insurance
  • Avionics
  • Anything I forgot...
  • $\begingroup$ Companies in all industries usually keep detailed cost information private so I think there's very little chance of getting a definite answer to this. But someone somewhere could have come up with a 'guesstimate' of course. It might be easier to get cost details for experimental - i.e. non-certified, homebuilt - aircraft but I'm not sure if that would be a useful enough answer? $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Jun 28, 2015 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ If I say no there isn't, how do I prove it? You could always say "there must be one somewhere". $\endgroup$
    – CGCampbell
    Jun 28, 2015 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ In light of this, I changed it to estimating in the title. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Jun 28, 2015 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ It's also worth noting that the used market for small planes is massive, far larger in fact than the market for new aircraft. A 2015 172 costs about \$370k; you can buy a 1970 airframe with practically the same engine and airframe specs for \$100k. That may, in fact, be a good place to start; an older airframe, assuming it's still airworthy, is going to be closer in cost to the sum of its parts than a brand new one. The difference is a combination of Cessna's overhead and true depreciation due to age and wear of the frame. $\endgroup$
    – KeithS
    Jun 29, 2015 at 21:04
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @David Rosakm Aircraft Design part. VIII provides statistical methods to breakdown an aircraft cost. You can find it probably at any Aerospace University Libraray. $\endgroup$
    – GHB
    Feb 29, 2016 at 16:08

1 Answer 1


You can find an estimate in the Roskam book "Airplane Design Part VIII"

Which is partial on google books: https://books.google.nl/books?id=GIHHFkd829cC&printsec=frontcover&dq=roskam+part+VIII&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=roskam%20part%20VIII&f=false

However, most Engineering Universities may have a copy of this series in their library. Most of the data you want to know, companies try their best to keep them private as it is information the competition would like to know. In general most aircraft programs are based on an fixed set of sold units. If you know the cost of the individual units (aircraft) and the amount of units needed to sell to reach the break even point then you have a fairly good estimate over the program cost.


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