Nestled in the hills of Middle Tennessee lies the quiet town of Shelbyville, home to JabiruUSA, a growing powerhouse in the light sport aircraft category. I took a ride in the Jabiru J230, an LSA that feels like a jet, hauls like a truck and looks like a 152 — with winglets!
Originating in Australia, the J230 was made to fly long cross-countries comfortably. The ride is smooth and the airplane requires very little pilot input in cruise. Even flying on a bumpy Tennessee afternoon, turbulence wasn’t a factor. The Jabiru gently bobs and weaves with the bumps, but always returns to the desired attitude with minimal control input.
Unlike most light sport aircraft, the J230 controls are solid. Jabiru designed fluttery controls out of the airplane by linking the controls to springs. The pilot works against the spring to deflect the controls. The downside of this is that the pilot doesn’t get a lot of tactile feedback from the control surface itself. In this way, it feels more like flying a jet than a tiny high-wing.
When we think of LSA’s, we generally don’t think about hauling a lot of stuff, but this airplane is built like a truck. The baggage area is huge and easily accessible through a third door behind the pilot’s seat. It’s perfect for golf clubs, pets, or packing your camping supplies for the pilgrimage to Oshkosh.
In terms of load, Jabiru’s J230 is comparable to most conventional LSA’s. It has a useful load of about 500 lbs, just like Cessna’s Skycatcher or Evektor’s Sportstar MAX. That’s enough leeway to carry a passenger and 50 lbs of cargo with about 1.5 hours of fuel on board, or to fly solo with 100 lbs of cargo and the fuel tanks topped.
At it’s heart, the J230 features a 120 hp Jabiru 3300 engine. Sporting six cylinders, the engine runs a lot smoother than the four-cylinders we’re used to in light aircraft. The engine also lightens pilot workload with fully automatic mixture control – there isn’t even a red knob on the panel to mess with. But this powerplant really stands out in fuel-sense. Jabiru’s spec sheet shows an average cruise fuel burn of 5.5 gallons per hour and runs your choice of Avgas or 91+ Octane automotive fuel.
Jabiru built a beautiful and forgiving airplane with the J230. With it’s big cargo area and respectable useful load, the airplane is perfect for long-distance flights. It handles well and might be an ideal sport pilot trainer due to it’s easy flight characteristics. A brand new Jabiru J230 starts at $112,000 and averages $125,000 with options.
Find out more at JabiruUSA Light Sport Aircraft