"The Jabiru's Nest." (Part Two) An Aviation Blog by Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Sunday, May 20, 2012

"The Jabiru's Nest" (Part Two).

 

by Owen Zupp

CLICK HERE for 'The Jabiru's Nest. (Part One)

 

Many Hands.


The global reach of Jabiru is one of the many impressive aspects of this company, but equally notable is the logistics and co-ordination of the Bundaberg operation. Rather than a sole company handling all aspects of production, Jabiru oversees and manages a series of smaller locally based contractors who specialise in their own particular Jabiru component. Alongside the lines of fuselages and wings and wooden crates of engines with ‘Jabiru’ stencilled on the side are shelves of vacuum sealed packs of wheel kits, cables, nuts, bolts and the myriad of other components that make an aeroplane. All produced locally, they represent a team effort for the district and an exercise in organisation as Jabiru ties together its various partners.

 

In its own right Jabiru employs 25 personnel.  Around 30 people are employed by Camit who produce the engines, while two businesses, AMI and Leisure Build, assemble the aircraft and employing 20 staff. Fibreglass parts originate from over 30 small businesses and others provide numerous other components such as upholstery and livery.   For a Queensland regional centre, Jabiru accounts for the creation of over 100 jobs and sizeable amount of income for the local economy. As a result, they enjoy a strong relationship with the local community.

 

Quality Control.

 Throughout the Jabiru facility, each component has a small plastic bag hanging from it. On closer examination, the bag contains the ‘biography’ of that particular component and forms an integral link in the demanding Jabiru Quality Control process. The documentation contains all of the relevant details relating to the who, how and when of production. For the wings it will also contain information relating to the angles, measure and aerofoil.

 

Throughout the Jabiru facility, each component has a small plastic bag hanging from it. On closer examination, the bag contains the ‘biography’ of that particular component and forms an integral link in the demanding Jabiru Quality Control process. The documentation contains all of the relevant details relating to the who, how and when of production. For the wings it will also contain information relating to the angles, measure and aerofoil.

 

For those composite parts, the documentation relates to the date, time and temperatures involved in its creation amongst other things. Along with the documents there is also a small sample of resin from the same batch that can be used for quality control testing. The entire history of the process of each part is retained for reference at a later date should it be required. Such a rigorous ‘QC’ process stems from the fact that Jabiru was fundamentally a pioneer in the composite manufacturing of certified aircraft in Australia. While these stringent procedures are mandatory for certified aircraft, they are not required for the kit aircraft of home builders. To Jabiru’s credit, they do not discriminate and apply the same quality control and audit procedures to ALL components of both kits and certified aircraft.

 

 

                             

 

 

Where To?

At the end of one of Jabiru’s production buildings is an annexed section where the company casts its gaze towards tomorrow. It is a small ‘research and development’ area, which reinforces that Jabiru is building solidly to the future. This is an important aspect of any aircraft ownership; the ongoing support of the product well into the future. Here moulds are ‘tweaked’ and refurbished and existing fairings are refined to a new design. There is an air amongst the employees, some of whom have been there since day one, that they are always trying to make things even better. There is a project Jabiru for export striving to meet the weight requirements of a foreign Authority while not compromising on any other aspect of the aeroplane.

 

Alongside the Jabiru airframes, the Jabiru engines are used in a number of aircraft built by other manufacturers. Many light aircraft and experimental types around the world have a Jabiru engine under the cowling. To assist with engine installation into Jabiru kits and these other aircraft types, Jabiru has developed, “Firewall Forward Kits”; or “Firewall Rear Kits” for pusher types. This range is continually being developed to suit an even greater range of aircraft.

 

From ‘outside of the box’, there is even a significantly Jabiru design tucked away in the corner. A single-seat model with folding wings that seeks to offer an economical equivalent to the trailer-sailor in a bid to circumvent the increasing problem and cost of hangarage. The owner would keep it in the garage and tow it to the airfield to go flying. While it is a project in its infancy, its significance lies equally in what it says of the company’s mindset; looking ahead.

 

Back to the Nest.

 

A periodic gathering of Jabiru owners titled, “Back to the Nest” sees the birds fly in from far and wide. At one Wide Bay Airshow that I attended, a long line of Jabirus was parked side by side, forming an impressive array of these native Australian aircraft. They were of varying ages, designs and origins, but all shared a common thread; affordable flying for pleasure.

 

In achieving this, Jabiru has not only produced a line of fine aeroplanes but nurtured an industry that is pivotal in its local economy. Its employees and contractors seem to possess a genuine interest and pride not only in the product, but the process. With such an attitude it is not hard to understand why Jabirus are flying right across the world, supported by a rural Queensland company. Furthermore, with such constant attention to detail and improvement, one can see why Jabiru should continue to do so for many years to come.

 

                          

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