Looks like a flight school-only option.
Cessna -ERAU- Repair Update
) Work Continues on Hail Damaged Planes, We have a couple more details on the hail-damaged Cessnas at Embry-Riddle. A Cessna spokesperson was able to find out for us that Cessna shipped all of its inventory of skylights to Embry-Riddle, as soon as they received the call for help. That very evening the 2nd shift team at Cessna's Pawnee facility in Wichita set up and manufactured the rest of the required skylights overnight. "All parts were shipped to them [ERAU] within 48 hours," our Cessna contact says. All's well that ends well, although it's not quite over yet for the maintainers. Each 172 requires eight man-hours to repair the skylights -- more if the control surfaces also need attention.
And then, there was the eagle-eyed Aero-News reader who wrote in to ask us how come the skylights on the 172s were broken, when the late-model 172s he flies have no skylights at all? Our readers are like having tens of thousands of expert editors, so we immediately started checking our facts. And sure enough, most of the late-model 172s we could find had no skylights, and we couldn't fins either a picture or a listing for that option anywhere on Cessna's website. But -- the Riddle planes definitely have skylights, and they have some other details that differentiate them from the usual 172SP. Instead of the leather that new 172 customers have come to expect, the university's hard-working trainers have cloth interiors, and the console is "missing." Those specific changes were specified by ERAU managers, and we guessed that the skylights were, too.
Sure enough, our Cessna contact confirmed that a fleet or flight school buyer can get skylights if they want. (Wonder if anyone at ERAU is regretting this right now?) It's not a generally available option, and Cessna doesn't advertise or price-list it. If you want skylights in a new-style 172, your choices are to go the STC route, or try to snag one of the flight-school specials on the secondary market when the initial lease is up. And if you ever see a 172R or 172SP with skylights, you'll know a little detail about its probable past! Who knew that a story that fell from the sky, disguised as a gnarly hailstorm, would end with us learning about some of the non-standard Cessna options that are available to fleet buyers (or lessees)? Never a dull day at Aero-News...