Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, is an expert on Light Sport Aircraft.
Pilots seem to love more power. All other things being equal, a more potent engine is preferred to one with less power. Pilots also like sweet-handling airplanes. So, put 20 more horses in front of the S-19 Venterra and you’ve really got something.
At the recent Midwest LSA Expo in Mt. Vernon, Ill., I got to fly with Mark Stauffer in the Rans S-19 Venterra powered by the 120-hp Jabiru 3300. Saturday was beautiful and a great day for flying, but it wasn’t just the agreeable weather than caused me to land (quite well, thank you) with a big smile on my face. This combo is darn near perfect, in my opinion. Now, I’m also a fan of Rotax’s 912 series, but this six-cylinder Jabiru engine was one of the few experiences I’ve had where the powerplant ran like the proverbial sewing machine. That comparison is often made but not always entirely factual.
We flew slowly, down into the high 30 knot range and we flew fast, right up to the speed limit of LSA. Sweet throughout! At 2,850 rpm — where Jabiru establishes its maximum continuous power setting — we clipped along at a true airspeed of 120 knots at 4,500 feet MSL. You could consume more fuel and go somewhat faster (legally, since it’s above max continuous) but why would you? The 3300 Jabiru purred like a contented kitty and made minimal noise and almost no vibration. I can’t recall all the LSA flights I’ve made with different powerplants, but this had to be one of the very smoothest.
Jabiru USA bought the S-19 (“at full retail”) from Rans to engineer the firewall-forward installation. The Shelbyville, Tennessee-based company makes a firewall-forward kit (FFK) for Zenith aircraft (CH-601, -650, -701, -750) plus other Rans models. With its FFK, Jabiru USA supplies everything forward of the firewall except the nose wheel, including a gutsy cowling modeled after the Arion Lightning, also made in Shelbyville.
Regular Rans S-19 factory pilot Tracy Standish put the 3300-powered S-19 through its paces and came away duly impressed, she said. Coming from a talented pilot of several Rans models, this means more than my enthusiasm. Tracy flew a Rotax-powered S-19 to the Midwest LSA Expo so her ability to compare was also better.
After a few more hours of evaluation, Jabiru USA will sell the S-19 (as an amateur-built kit) and move on to other projects. If you want a terrific example of a Light-Sport Aircraft, you better call Jabiru USA now.