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First of the Many

 

Added by Bob Wright on 02 July 2019

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On 13th June 1965 the prototype Britten Norman BN2 Islander G-ATCT took off from the grass airstrip at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. 54 years later the aircraft is still being produced, albeit now on the mainland at Lee on Solent in Hampshire.

The prototype being prepared for its first flight at Bembridge 13th June 1965  Photo: BNAP Archives
The prototype fully painted at Farnborogh the same month.  Photo: RuthAs

Not many vehicles stay in production for over 50 years and the Islander is still recognisable now, with the only major changes being turbine engines and a 'glass' cockpit. With a production run of over 1,250 aircraft the Islander family, including our own Trislander G-BEVT, is the most numerous of any British civilian aircraft. Although the Trislander only had a short production run of less than 80 airframes, this had more to do with company politics and changes of ownership than any shortcomings with the aircraft  itself.

To prove the continued relevance of the aircraft Islanders are still being delivered to traditional customers with 2019 production heading to Europe, the Channel Islands and even down to the Falkland Islands, with more on order, Even more remarkable is that in 2018/19 Anguilla Air Services in the Caribbean found a recently retired Trislander in Vanuatu in the Pacific. Their engineers recertified it, and island hopped across the Pacific Ocean to Anguilla where after a quick repaint the aircraft was put into service.  They have now found another aircraft and will do the same thing. To put this much effort into putting a 40 year old aircraft into commercial service must prove the enduring practicality of the original design.

The latest Trislander now in service in the Caribbean.  Photo: Anguilla Air Service
 
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