Britten-Norman Trislander

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G-FTSE Trislander Aurigny Air Services (7003405361).jpg
Aurigny Air Services Trislander
Role Airliner
Manufacturer Britten-Norman
First flight 11 September 1970
Status In service
Primary user Vieques Air Link Roraima Airways
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] A number of commuter airlines operated the Trislander in scheduled passenger services.

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 150 metres (492 ft) 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] The type entered service with the Guernsey-based Aurigny in July 1971.[3] Initial production ceased in 1982 after 73 had been sold and delivered, with a further seven Trislanders unsold, when Pilatus Britten Norman sold a manufacturing license to the International Aviation Corporation (IAC) of Florida. It was planned for IAC to build 12 Trislanders (to be known as Tri-Commutairs) from parts kits supplied by Britten-Norman before undertaking full production,[4] but these plans came to nothing.[5]


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 (160 kg) 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.


Future operators[edit]

 United Kingdom

Current operators[edit]

  • Anguilla Air Services[7]
 Puerto Rico

Former operators[edit]

Blue Islands Trislander
 Antigua and Barbuda
  • Lucaya Air
  • Burrard Air Ltd.
  • Questor Surveys Ltd.
 Costa Rica
  • Travel Air
 Cayman Islands
  • Aurigny[10] At its peak, Aurigny operated 16 Trislanders, the largest operator of the type.[3] As of 2018 all Trislander aircraft have been retired from service.[11][12] One of the Aurigny Trislander aircraft is on static display at the Imperial War Museum Duxford in the UK and one of them is displayed at Oaty & Joey's play barn at Oatlands in Guernsey.[13]
 Isle of Man
 New Zealand
 Sierra Leone
 Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Turks & Caicos Airways
 United Kingdom
 United States

Accidents and incidents[edit]

On 5 July 2009, a Trislander belonging to Great Barrier Airlines (now Barrier Air) lost its starboard side prop six minutes into a flight from Great Barrier Island, New Zealand, to Auckland. 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.[18]

On 15 December 2008, a Trislander operated by LAP in Puerto Rico crashed into the sea somewhere near the Turks and Caicos, shortly after a distress call. A spokesman for the Asociación Nacional de Pilotos reported that the pilot had his licence suspended in October 2006.[19]

On 8 October 1977, ZS-JYF, operated by Southern Aviation, impacted the ground while attempting a stall turn during an air display at Lanseria in South Africa. Despite sustaining severe damage (it was damaged beyond repair) the aircraft performed an emergency landing and neither occupant was injured.[20]

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


Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1976–77[2]

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, 160 kn) at sea level
  • Cruise speed: 155 mph (249 km/h, 135 kn) (59% power) at 13,000 ft (4,000 m)
  • Range: 1,000 mi (1,600 km, 870 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 13,160 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)

See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era


  1. ^ Historians, BN. "Home – BN Historians Website 2014".
  2. ^ a b Taylor, John W. R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1976–77. London: Jane's Yearbooks, 1976. ISBN 0-354-00538-3, pp. 176-177.
  3. ^ a b Cunliffe, Charles. "Trislander Sunset". Air International. October 2015, Vol. 89, No. 4. ISSN 0306-5634, p. 123.
  4. ^ Taylor, John W. R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1982–83. London: Jane's Yearbooks, 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0748-2, pp. 268, 392.
  5. ^ Trevett, John. "Commuter Aircraft Directory: International Aviation Corp (USA)". Flight International, 11 May 1985, p. 47.
  6. ^ "UKs Air Alderney adds Trislander to fleet".
  7. ^ "Anguilla Air Services adds maiden Trislander".
  8. ^ "Roraima unveils Britten Norman Trislander". 26 April 2016.
  9. ^ "LIAT the caribbean airline".
  10. ^ " – channel islands". Archived from the original on 13 September 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  11. ^ "Aurigny Trislander takes final commercial flight". 31 May 2017.
  12. ^ "Trislander for Solent Sky". Aeroplane. Vol. 45, no. 5. May 2017. p. 10. ISSN 0143-7240.
  13. ^ "IWM Duxford".
  14. ^ "Aircraft fleet, Blue Islands aircraft fleet, Blue Islands ATR aircraft - Blue Islands".
  15. ^ "Barrier Air. Fleet". Barrier Air.
  16. ^ "Our fleet".
  17. ^ "Loganair :: Aircraft – Loganair". Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  18. ^ "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." Archived 3 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) via Retrieved: 11 May 2011.
  19. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network, Flight Safety Foundation, 16 December 2008. Retrieved: 28 February 2009.
  20. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Britten-Norman BN-2A Trislander Mk.III-2 ZS-JYF Lanseria Airport (HLA)".

Further reading[edit]

  • US 3807665, published 1974-04-30, assigned to Britten Norman 
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982–1985). London: Orbis Publishing, 1985.
  • Stroud, John. "Post War Propliners: Islander and Trislander". Aeroplane Monthly. Vol. 22, No. 8. August 1994. pp. 44–49. ISSN 0143-7240.
  • "Britten-Norman BN-2A Mk.3 Trislander".
  • Britten-Norman company