- Aircraft History, Specification and Information -
Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander
Britten-Norman BN.2A-26 Islander - North Wright Airways - C-GZGO
1978 Britten-Norman BN.2A-26 Islander
C-GZGO (sn 2017)
North-Wright Airways Ltd.
Photo taken May 2010
Inuvik, NT - Canada (YEV / CYEV)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Britten-Norman BN-2A Islander - C-GVCJ - Sifton Air
1968 Britten-Norman BN-2A Islander
C-GVCJ (sn 90)
Sifton Air.
Photo taken April 2008
Penticton Airport, BC - Canada (YYF / CYYF)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Britten Norman BN-2A-20 Islander - N138PC
1976 Britten Norman BN-2A-20 Islander
N138PC (sn 490)
Photo taken at Sun 'n Fun 2007
Lakeland Airport, FL USA (KLAL)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler

The Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander is a 1960s British light utility aircraft, mainline 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 Army and Police forces in the United Kingdom and is a light transport with over 30 military aviation operators around the world.

Design and development

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. A conventional tail unit and a fixed tricycle landing gear, the fuselage 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, first flown in 1970, was marketed as the Defender with underwing hard points and 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 in 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 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 Third World 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.

Licensed production

Companies in addition to Britten-Norman have manufactured the Islander. IRMA from Romania has been building the aircraft since 1969, including the SONACA (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.


  • Britten-Norman BN-2
    Prototype first flown in 1966 with two 260 hp Lycoming O-540-E4B5 piston engines.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A
    Production version with minor modification from prototype and increased Takeoff weight.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-2
    A BN-2A with modified flaps, and two 300 hp Lycoming IO-540-K1B5 (fuel injected) engines.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-3
    A BN-2A-2 with increased wingspan and fitted with extra wingtip fuel tanks.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-6
    A BN-2A with wing leading edge modifications and two 260 hp Lycoming O-540-E4C5 engine.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-7
    A BN-2A-6 with increased wingspan and fuel capacity.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-8
    A BN-2A-6 with droop flaps.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-9
    A BN-2A-7 with droop flaps.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-10
    A BN-2A-8 with increased takeoff weight and 270 hp Lycoming TIO-540-H1A (turbo-charged, fuel injected) engines.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-20
    A BN-2A-2 with increased takeoff weight and minor improvements.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-21
    A BN-2A-3 with increased takeoff weight.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-23
    A BN-2A-21 with lengthened nose.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-24
    A BN-2A-26 with lengthened nose.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-25
    A BN-2A-27 with lengthened nose.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-26
    A BN-2A-8 with increased takeoff weight.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-27
    A BN-2A-9 with increased takeoff weight.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-41
    Turbo Islander with lengthened nose, droop flaps and two Lycoming LTP-101 turboprops, first flown in 1977.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2B Defender
    Defender military variant with 300 hp IO-540-K1B5 engines and underwing hard points and military modifications.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2B-20
    A BN-2A-20 with improved soundproofing and increased landing weight and other minor modifications.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2B-21
    A BN-2A-21 with Model B improvements.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2B-26
    A BN-2A-26 with Model B improvements.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2B-27
    A BN-2A-27 with Model B improvements.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2T
    Turbine Islander based on BN-2A-26 with two 320 shp Allison 250-B17C turboprops.
  • Britten-Norman Islander AL.Mk 1
    Twin-engined communications, reconnaissance aircraft for the British Army; seven built.
  • Britten-Norman Islander CC.Mk 2 and CC.Mk 2A
    Twin-engined communications aircraft for the RAF; three operated.
  • Britten-Norman Maritime-Defender
    Armed maritime reconnaissance and patrol aircraft.
  • Britten-Norman BN-2A-III Trislander
    Three engined Trislander, a stretched BN-2A with 18 seats and three 260 hp Lycoming O-540-E4C5 piston engines.


Military operators

  • Angola
    - National Air Force of Angola
  • Belgium
    - Belgian Army
    - Federal Police (Belgium)
  • Belize
    - Belize Defence Force
  • Botswana
    - Botswana Defence Force Air Wing
  • Burma / Myanmar
    - Burma Air Force
    - Myanmar Air Force
  • Cambodia
    - Royal Cambodian Air Force
  • Central African Republic
    - Central African Republic Air Force - Former operator.
  • Cyprus
    - Cypriot National Guard
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
    - Air Force of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Finland
    - Finnish Air Force
  • Ghana
    - Ghana Air Force
  • Guyana
    - Guyana Defence Force
  • Hong Kong
    - Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force
  • India
    - Indian Navy
    - Indian Naval Air Arm
  • Indonesia
    - Indonesian Army
  • Ireland
    - Irish Air Corps
  • Israel
    - Israeli Air Force
  • Jamaica
    - Jamaica Defence Force
  • Madagascar
    - Military of Madagascar
  • Malawi
    - Military of Malawi
  • Malta
    - Armed Forces of Malta
  • Mauritania
    - Military of Mauritania
  • Mauritius
    - Military of Mauritius
  • Mexico
    - Mexican Air Force
  • Nepal
    - Nepalese Army
    - Nepalese Army Air Service
  • Oman
    - Royal Air Force of Oman
  • Panama
    - Panamanian Public Forces
  • Pakistan
    - Pakistan Navy
    - Pakistan Naval Air Arm
  • Philippines
    - Philippine Air Force
    - Philippine Navy - Present operator, used for reconnaissance and liaison duties.
  • Qatar
    - Qatar Air Force
  • Rhodesia
    - Rhodesian Air Force - Former operator.
  • Rwanda
    - Rwandan Defence Forces
  • Senegal
    - Senegalese Air Force
  • Seychelles
    - Seychelles Coast Guard
  • South Africa
    - South African Air Force
  • Somalia
    - Somali Air Corps - Former operator.
  • Suriname
    - Military of Suriname
  • Thailand
  • United Kingdom
    - Royal Air Force
    - British Army
    - Army Air Corps
  • United Arab Emirates
    - United Arab Emirates Air Force
  • Venezuela
    - Venezuelan Air Force
  • Zaire
    - Zaire Air Force
  • Zambia
    - Zimbabwe
    - Air Force of Zimbabwe

Civilian operators/Former operators

  • Antigua and Barbuda
    - Carib Aviation
    - LIAT
  • Barbados
    - Aero Services
    - Tropical Air Services
  • Israel
    - Ayit Aviation
  • Australia
    - Golden Eagle Airlines
    - Airlines of Tasmania
    - Lady Elliot Island Eco-Resort (Seair Pacific)
  • Canada
    - Maritime Air Charter
    - Air Montmagny
    - North-Wright Airways Ltd.
  • Chile
    - Archipiélagos Aviación
    - South Pacific Korp
  • Colombia
    - Tavina
  • Denmark
    - Falck Air - operated three Islanders, a BN-2A-9 (OY-DZV), a BN-2A-20 (OY-RPZ) and a BN-2B-26 (OY-CFV)
  • Estonia
    - Avies Ltd.
    - Skydive Estonia
  • Fiji
    - Pacific Sun
    - Air Fiji
    - Pacific Island Sea Planes
    - Northern Air Service
  • French West Indies
    - St. Barth Commuter
  • Germany
    - OLT
    - LFH
    - Air Hamburg
    - FLN Frisia Luftverkehr
  • Iceland
    - Flugfelag Vestmannaeyja
  • Ireland
    - Aer Arann
    - Garda Air Support Unit - Irish Police
  • Jamaica
    - Trans Jamaican Airlines
  • Japan
    - Air Dolphin
    - Kyokushin Air - Suspended Operations On October 1, 2008.
    - New Central Air Service
    - Ryukyu Air Commuter
  • Kiribati
    - Coral Sun Airways (2)
  • Netherlands Antilles
    - Divi Divi Air (Still in operations) (2)
    - EZAir (Still in operations) (1)
    - Winair (Still in operations) (3)
    - Windward Express (Still in operations) (2)
  • Panama
    - Aviones de Panama S.A.
    - Aero Taxi Intl
    - PARSA
    - ANSA
    - Air Panama (recently)
  • Romania
    - Regional Air Services
  • Malaysia
    - Malaysia Airlines
  • Mexico
    - Aero Taxis de CV
  • New Zealand
    - Aspiring Air Wanaka NZWF
    - Great Barrier Airlines Auckland NZAA and NZGB
    - Real Journeys Queenstown NZQN
    - Southern Air Invercargill NZNV and NZRC
    - Wings over Whales Kaikoura NZKI
    - Mountain Air
  • Portugal
    - ATA-Aerocondor
    - Oceanair-Transportes Aéreos Regionais - Azores Islands
    - TAC-Transportes Aéreos Continentais
    - TAT-Transportes Aéreos de Timor - Portuguese East Timor
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
    - SVG Air
  • United Kingdom
    - Precision Terrain Surveys Ltd
    - Aurigny Air Services, (Channel Islands) (1968 - 1972)
    - Blue Islands, (Channel Islands)
    - Falkland Islands Government Air Service
    - Highland Airways
    - Isles of Scilly Skybus
    - Loganair
    - Greater Manchester Police
    - Hampshire Police
    - Cheshire Police
  • United States
    - Air Flamenco - Culebra, PR
    - American Samoa Government (ASG) - American Samoa
    - Boise Air Service; Boise,ID
    - Channel Islands Aviation; Camarillo, CA
    - Harbor Airlines; Oak Harbor, WA
    - Inter Island Airways - American Samoa
    - Island Air Service - Kodiak, Alaska
    - LAB Flying Service - Juneau,AK
    - McCall Aviation - McCall,ID
    - Munz Northern Airlines - Nome,AK
    - New England Airlines - Westerly, Rhode Island
    - Salmon Air - Salmon,ID
    - San Juan Airlines - Friday Harbor,WA
    - - Servant Air - Kodiak, Alaska
    - STOL Air - San Francisco,CA
  • Vanuatu
    - Air Vanuatu
  • Venezuela
    - Transaven
  • Zambia
    - Zamfari Limited, Lusaka


On December 26 1974, Harbor Airlines flight 308 crashed after take off into terrain in a residential area in Riverton Heights, killing 4 out of 6 passengers and crew.

On November 3 1977, a private Britten-Norman Islander crashed at San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico as the aircraft was on approach, killing all 13 passengers and crew. On board were some officials of the National Indian Institute.

On 18 September 1981, Jersey European Airways flight 245 crashed after an engine failed over the English Channel. The aircraft crashed at St. Andrew, Guernsey, United Kingdom. No one was killed but the 9 people on board were injured in the accident.

On 1 July 1984, Loganair flight 621 stalled on approach into Sanday Airport on the Orkney islands, United Kingdom. None of the 8 passengers and crew were killed in the accident but they were injured.

On 8 August 1989, an Aspiring Air crashed into a mountainous terrain at Upper Dart Valley, New Zealand. All 10 on board were killed.

On 28 November 1989, a New England Airlines charter flying to Block Island crashed into the sea. All 8 people on board, 7 passengers, 2 dogs and 1 crew, were killed. The flight proceeded under a cloud layer on a moonless night while a SIGMET was in effect for moderate to occasionally severe turbulence and possible wind shear. The reason for the crash was undetermined

On 24 October 2009, Divi Divi Air Flight 014 lost an engine and ditched between the Caribbean islands of Curaçao and Bonaire. Pilot Robert Mansell, 32, was knocked out by the impact and his safety harness damaged so it could not be undone. He went down with the aircraft but his nine passengers were picked up by rescue boats.

Specifications (BN-2A Islander)

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

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)

Last updated June 27, 2010
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Britten-Norman Islander".
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