BN-2 Britten-Norman Islander
The ubiquitous Islander is the best-selling commercial aircraft produced in Western Europe. Adaptable, versatile and durable, it has an unsurpassed record of solving transportation problems simply and economically in some of the world's harshest environments. Ten seats, twin engines and a design driven by the requirement for ease of operation provide exceptional levels of utilisation. Constant refinement ensures that the Islander continues to excel in modern-day roles including environmental protection, transportation, air ambulance, fisheries protection, photo surveying, policing and parachuting to name but a few.
Britten-Norman Aircraft has been manufacturing the Islander aircraft continuously since 1965 and has, to date, manufactured almost 1300 aircraft in total. The Islander has an impressive heritage that is today represented by four main variants. Two of the current variants are powered by Lycoming piston engines and two are Rolls Royce turbine powered. The company also retains the (sole) production rights to the Trislander, which was last manufactured in the early 1970s. Plans to introduce a diesel variant of the Islander are currently on hold whilst a suitable engine is sourced.
The original Islander design, which has an impressive world class pedigree and impeccable safety record spanning five decades, remains highly respected for its rugged dependability. Capitalizing on the Islanders exceptional low speed handling characteristics, the Defender 4000's extended endurance, increased payload, low noise signature and economical operating costs are proving to be ideally suited to Urban Surveillance and Counter-Terrorism operations. Recognising the need to focus on support of the military variant of the Defender 4000, in early 2007 Britten-Norman formed a new MRO subsidiary - BN Defence Limited. Located in a dedicated facility within the air park at the former RAF station at St Athan in South Wales, BN Defence provides full maintenance support services for the military variants of the Defender 4000 (D4K) and UK military variants of the Islander.
The history of the UK's only remaining major small aircraft builder was anything but pretty. Since the 1960s, the BN-2 Islander has been a rugged stalwart of remote regions around the world, operating from beaches in the Outer Hebrides to jungle clearings in Indonesia. More than 1,250 of the type have gone into in service around the world - as utility aircraft, passenger aircraft and, as the Defender, in the military surveillance and law-enforcement sphere. Once the world had all the Islanders it needed, sales began to slump. From its formation in 1953 to the end of the century, the maker of the ubiquitous Islander twin went bust three times and changed hands four times.
Financial problems for Britten-Norman during the early 1970s led to the takeover by The Fairey Group in 1972. During the following year production of the Islander was transferred from Bern-bridge to Gosselies in Belgium. But in 1977 The Fairey Group itself went into receivership, and the Britten-Norman part of the Group was bought by Pilatus, and in the form of Pilatus Britten-Norman Ltd the company continues to complete aircraft in the Isle of Wight after their basic manufacture in Romania.
Pilatus sold the Britten-Norman business in 1998 to Biofarm Inc. The remaned company, Britten-Norman Ltd., went into receivership in 2000. In May 2000 the assets were purchased and a new company B-N Group was formed. B-N Group and subsidary companies Britten-Norman Aircraft and Fly BN have a thriving business based at Bembridge, Isle of Wight, and at other locations worldwide. Although aircraft production is now single figures each year, B-N Group achieves profitability through the diversity of it's business.
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