Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander
The Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander is a 1960s British light utility aircraft, regional airliner and cargo aircraft designed and originally manufactured by Britten-Norman of the United Kingdom. The Islander is one of the best-selling commercial aircraft types produced in Europe. Although designed in the 1960s, over 750 are still in service with commercial operators around the world. The aircraft is also used by the British Army and Police forces in the United Kingdom and is a light transport with over 30 military aviation operators around the world.
After Fairey Aviation acquired the Britten-Norman company, their Islanders and Trislander aircraft were built in Romania, then shipped to Avions Fairey for finishing and then flown to the UK for flight certification.
The Islander is also known for servicing the two airports joined by the shortest scheduled flight in the world, a leg of Loganair’s inter-island service, Loganair Flight 353, from Papa Westray Airport to Westray Airport. The distance is 2.8 km (1.7 mi), the scheduled flight time, including taxiing, is two minutes.
Britten-Norman was started in 1953 to convert and operate agricultural aircraft. It also produced hovercraft (Cushioncraft, later sold to the British Hovercraft Corporation). Design of the Islander started in 1963 and the first prototype BN-2 first flew on 13 June 1965, with the second prototype on 20 August 1966. Both of these aircraft had engines that were less powerful than the production versions. The Islander is a high-wing cantilever monoplane with a rectangular fuselage and two wing-mounted engines. The fuselage, which has a conventional tail unit and fixed tricycle landing gear, will usually accommodate one pilot and up to nine passengers.
The production Islander first flew on 24 April 1967 and was certified in August 1967. Production started at the Britten-Norman factory at Bembridge, Isle of Wight but within a few years the company could not keep up with demand; a contract was placed with IRMA of Romania, initially to produce aircraft from a kit of parts but the Romanian factory soon became the main source for production Islanders. A military version of the Islander, marketed as the Defender and first flown in 1970, had underwing hardpoints and was fitted out as a light troop transport and support aircraft.
The second prototype was developed into a stretched Super Islander but the program was stopped and the aircraft was used as a basis of the three-engined version, the Trislander. The company had financial difficulties and by the end of 1970 went into receivership. In 1972 the company was bought by the Fairey Aviation Group and production of the Islander and Trislander was moved to their factory (Avions Fairey) in Gosselies, Belgium although the aircraft were flown to Bembridge for final customer preparation. The new company developed the Turbo Islander with Lycoming LTP101 turboprops but the engines were too powerful for the aircraft and the design evolved into the Turbine Islander (BN-2T) with Allison 250 turboprops. Fairey then suffered financial problems and called in the receiver and the Fairey Britten-Norman Company was sold to Pilatus of Switzerland.
An improved version, the BN-2A Islander, first flew in 1969. It incorporated aerodynamic and flight equipment improvements as well as changes to the baggage arrangements. In 1977 a standard BN-2 was re-engined with Dowty ducted fans. It was later reverted back to standard engines and sold.
In 1978 a further improved version, the BN-2B Islander II was introduced. Improvements included increased carrying capacity and propeller modifications to reduce noise levels. Options included a long-nosed version for increased baggage capacity, raked wingtip auxiliary fuel tanks and twin Allison 250-B17C turboprop engines. When the latter are installed the aircraft is designated the BN-2T Turbine Islander.
The Defender 4000 is a military conversion of the Islander, capitalizing on its rugged structure for use in developing countries. Purchases from police and military customers centres around use in surveillance and counter-terrorism operations. The Maritime Defender is another military version of the Islander, intended for search and rescue, coastal patrol and fishery protection.
Companies in addition to Britten-Norman have manufactured the Islander.
Intreprinderea de Reparatii Material Aeronautic (IRMA) from Romania has been building the aircraft since 1969, as have SONACA (Avions Fairey), in Gosselies, Belgium.
35 have also been assembled by the National Aero Manufacturing Corporation in the Philippines.
A design project to develop an Islander with a larger capacity resulted in the BN-2A Mk III Trislander. This aircraft has a stretched fuselage, modified landing gear and a third (tail-mounted) engine. The prototype was constructed from the original second BN-2 prototype and flew on 11 September 1970.
General characteristics: Crew: One or two pilots, Capacity: Up to nine passengers, Length: 35 ft 8 in (10.86 m) Wingspan: 49 ft (14.94 m) Height: 13 ft 9 in (4.18 m) Wing area: 325 ft² (30.2 m²)
Empty weight: 3,675 lb (1,667 kg) Loaded weight: Up to 6,600 lb (BN2A-20 onwards) (2,994 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 6,600 lb (2,994 kg) Powerplant: 2 × Lycoming O-540-E4C5 or IO-540, 260 hp or 300 hp if fuel injected (195 kW) each
Performance: Maximum speed: 170 mph (273 km/h) Cruise speed: 160 mph (257 km/h)
Stall speed: 40 mph (64 km/h) Minimum controllable speed: 45 mph (72 km/h)
Range: 874 miles (1,400 km) Service ceiling: 13,200 ft (4,024 m) Rate of climb: 970 ft/min (295 m/min)
Wing loading: 20 lb/ft² (9.78 kg/m²)