Britten-Norman Trislander

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BN-2A Mk III-2
Role Airliner
Manufacturer Britten-Norman
First flight 11 September 1970
Status Out of production, in service
Primary user Aurigny Air Services
Produced 1970–1980
Number built 72
Developed from Britten-Norman Islander

The Britten-Norman Trislander (more formally designated the BN-2A Mk III Trislander) is an 18-seat three-engined piston-powered civilian utility aircraft produced in the 1970s and early 1980s by Britten-Norman of Britain. These STOL capable aircraft were produced on the Isle of Wight. They were also produced in Romania, and delivered via Belgium to Britain for their certification.[1]

Design and development[edit]

Designed by John Britten and Desmond Norman, the Trislander is a further development of Britten-Norman's better-known Islander aircraft in order to give it a larger carrying capacity. In comparison with the Islander, the Trislander has a stretched fuselage, strengthened, fixed tricycle landing gear and a third engine on the fuselage centre line atop the fin. The Trislander has exceptional low speed handling characteristics, extended endurance, increased payload, low noise signature and economical operating costs. Capable of taking off from a 492 yards long landing strip, the Trislander can readily operate from unprepared surfaces.

Operational history[edit]

The prototype of the Trislander, which was constructed from the original second Islander prototype, first flew on 11 September 1970.[2] Initial production ceased in 1982 after 73 were ordered. As of January 2008, Britten-Norman was preparing a second production run of the Trislander.[3]


BN-2A Mk III-1
First production version, with short nose.
BN-2A Mk III-2
Lengthened nose and higher operating weight.
BN-2A Mk III-3
Variant certified for operation in the United States.
BN-2A Mk III-4
III-2 fitted with 350 lb rocket-assisted takeoff equipment.
BN-2A Mk III-5
III-2 with sound-proofed cabin, modernised cockpit/interior and new engines (proposed, unbuilt as yet).
Trislander M 
Proposed military version, not built.

Note: Aurigny Air Services has fitted all Trislanders in its fleet with 3 blade propellers (Hartzell HC-C3YR-2UF/FC8468-8R) on the front two engines so as to increase maximum take-off weight.

Operators/Former Operators[edit]

Italics implies current operator.

A Trislander aircraft at Guernsey Airport, on the Isle of Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, operated by Aurigny Air Services.
G-RBCI operated By Aurigny Air Services parked at Guernsey Airport
Trislander in New Zealand
A Trislander, operated by Blue Islands Airline, departing Shoreham Airport, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, England.
 Antigua and Barbuda
  • LIAT
  • Montserrat Air Services
  • Aero Services
 Cayman Islands
  • Bali Int. Air Service
 Isle of Man
  • Sunbird Charters
  • Aero Cozumel
 New Zealand
  • Aero Taxi Intl
  • Aviones de Panama
  • Chitreana de Aviación
 Papua New Guinea
  • Provincial Air Services
 Puerto Rico
 Sierra Leone
  • Taiwan Airways
 United Kingdom
 United States
 U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Air Saint Thomas
 Turks and Caicos Islands
  • TCNA (Turks and Caicos National Airline)

Accidents and Incidents[edit]

The most recent crash was 15 December 2008 by LAP in Puerto Rico. The aircraft crashed somewhere near the Turks and Caicos. This was the first crash since 2005. The aircraft probably crashed into the sea shortly after the distress call. A spokesman for the Asociación Nacional de Pilotos reported that the pilot had his licence suspended in October 2006.[5]

On 5 July 2009 in New Zealand, a Trislander belonging to Great Barrier Airlines lost its starboard side prop six minutes into a flight from Great Barrier Island to Auckland city. The prop sheared off and impacted the fuselage, prompting a successful emergency landing. While there were injuries, no deaths were reported. The accident was caused by undetected corrosion of the propeller flange which led to its eventual failure.[6]

Specifications (BN-2A Mk III-2)[edit]

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1976–77[7]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 or 2
  • Capacity: 16 or 17 passengers
  • Length: 49 ft 3 in (15.01 m)
  • Wingspan: 53 ft 0 in (16.15 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 2 in (4.32 m)
  • Wing area: 337.0 sq ft (31.31 m2)
  • Aspect ratio: 7.95:1
  • Airfoil: NACA 23012
  • Empty weight: 5,842 lb (2,650 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 10,000 lb (4,536 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 154 imp gal (185 US gal; 700 L)
  • Powerplant: 3 × Lycoming O-540-E4C5 air-cooled flat-six piston engines, 260 hp (190 kW) each
  • Propellers: 2-bladed Hartzell HC-C2YK-2G/C8477-4 constant speed propellers


  • Maximum speed: 180 mph (290 km/h; 156 kn) at sea level
  • Cruise speed: 155 mph (135 kn; 249 km/h) (59% power) at 13,000 ft (4,000 m)
  • Range: 1,000 mi (869 nmi; 1,609 km)
  • Service ceiling: 13,156 ft (4,010 m)
  • Rate of climb: 980 ft/min (5.0 m/s)
  • Take off run to 50 ft (15 m): 1,950 feet (590 m)
  • Landing run from 50 ft (15 m): 1,445 ft (440 m)


  1. ^ Britten-Norman Historians website
  2. ^ Taylor 1976, p. 176.
  3. ^ "Britten-Norman Trislander." Retrieved: 13 November 2011.
  4. ^ "Pinoy Air Trislanders." Retrieved: 12 November 2011.
  5. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network, Flight Safety Foundation, 16 December 2008. Retrieved: 28 February 2009.
  6. ^ "Investigation 09-004 Report 09-004, Britten Norman BN2A-Mk III Trislander, ZK-LOU loss of engine propeller assembly, near Claris, Great Barrier Island, 5 July 2009." New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) via Retrieved: 11 May 2011.
  7. ^ Taylor 1976 pp. 176–177.

External links[edit]