Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jabiru J230: Heart Of Gold

Beauty and solid, easy-flying handling in one package

What draws a person to an airplane? For some it’s raw performance—faster/higher/farther; for others, it’s enthusiastic raves from fellow pilots. But for most of us, it’s an intangible moment of “smittenness” with the sheer visual appeal of a new flying machine. How great, then, when the object of your latest affection turns out to not only have eye-catching beauty, but a heart of gold as well.
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Stall? What Stall?
Eager to experience these exemplary Aussie manners for myself, I pulled the left-side, panel-mounted throttle back for a power-off stall. We had already toggled in around 16 degrees of flaps, so I eased the stick back to hold altitude. The J230 slowed and slowed, to 60 knots, then 58, then 56. “Okay,” I said out loud, “I’m waiting...break whenever you want.”

Allen just smiled. Slower it went, down below 50 knots at full idle, stick all the way back against the center console stop. (It’s mounted just under a padded armrest, well-placed and comfortable.) Even then, the airplane wouldn’t break, preferring to mush along in a slight nose-high attitude. Good on ya, mate!

I held the attitude for several more seconds as Allen pointed at the EFIS display (dual Horizon Sport flight instruments from Grand Rapids Technologies, “Look: Our descent rate’s only 500 feet per minute.” Heck, I thought, that’s only eight feet per second. Parachutes bring you down faster than that (18 feet per second). Arguably, in a bad situation, you could consider riding her down with that sink rate and just 45 knots of forward speed!

The J230 is a bit of a rudder airplane in that you need that movable tail to keep her honest at slow speeds. Rudder-pedal action is smooth and positive, with ample feedback in flight. Same on the ground, in fact, thanks to the steerable nosewheel. Keeping the J230 coordinated was easy. Like most aircraft, it likes right rudder on takeoff, but much less than some LSA I’ve flown. In trimmed flight, you pretty much forget about rudder except for a touchup entering and exiting turns.

Back to the stall, ahem, attempt. “We flight instructors love this,” said Allen as my arm was getting tired holding the stick back against the positive pitching pressure. “It’s very docile.”

I eased in power, and the smooth, quiet Jabiru engine cleanly accelerated us back to level flight. Allen then suggested I pull more smartly back on the stick. At last, down in the mid-40s, the nose dipped and a wing dropped, as if nodding politely.

Flaps up, power-on stalls were hardly more dramatic. The J230 got wobbly sooner without flaps, at around 58 knots indicated, and the nose angle was higher. But again, at stall, the front end just nodded and the right wing dropped slightly (my lack of rudder finesse). We relaxed the stick forward and then added a touch of power, and we were right as rain. And that’s about all the news from the Dept. of Stall.

A quick note about cabin comfort: The semireclined seats cushion the body comfortably. There’s lots of head and shoulder room. And even on the ground before taxiing, I had noticed a positive airflow stream from the vents beneath the panel. In flight, we had excellent air circulation—an important creature comfort on long trips.

Labels: LSAsSpecs


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