First flight: 1969
Display aircraft built: 1975
Country of origin: United Kingdom
Designers: John Britten, Desmond Norman
Crew/passengers: 1 (2)/9 (8)
Max speed: 273 kph
Ceiling: 4,024 m
Power plant: 2 Lycoming O-540-E4C
Span: 14.94 m/LN-MAF: 16.2 m
Length: 10.86 m
Height: 4.18 m
Range: 1,400 km
Max weight: 2,994 kg
Britten-Norman Islander BN-2A
The Britten-Norman Islander is a twin-engine, all-metal passenger plane manufactured in England. It was designed by John Britten and Desmond Norman at the start of the 1960s. Their aim was to build an aircraft suitable for remote, thinly populated places with small, primitive airfields.
The Islander is of high-wing design and has a fixed undercarriage. It lifts heavier payloads than comparable aircraft, but its speed and range are somewhat limited when compared with aircraft such as the Twin Otter.
The Islander was originally designed for use between England and the Shetlands, Hebrides and Channel Islands, hence its name. There were several versions. The first, BN-2, entered series production in 1967. In 1969 came a new version, the BN-2A, with improved aerodynamic characteristics. This is the version displayed here. A total of 1,200 Islanders were produced between 1965 and 1978.The first Islander came to Norway in 1970. Norving, based in Finnmark, was the largest operator of these aircraft in Norway.
The museum’s aircraft
The museum’s aircraft was built in 1975 at Britten-Norman’s factory in Belgium. The machine flew in England for a short time before it was bought by Norving and registered as LN-MAF on 4 June 1975.
LN-MAF was used as an aerial taxi, ambulance and for several other types of task. Much of the flying took place in Finnmark using simple airstrips that Norving itself had helped to build. The short-field characteristics came into their own here. “The fish crate”, as it was known, kept local communities in touch with one another and it became a vital link with hospitals and the rest of the airport network in Finnmark. For a period in 1976 the aircraft was also leased to Nordsjøfly, who used it on the air taxi route between Bergen and Haugesund.
When the aircraft came to Bodø it lacked both engines, a propeller, instrumentation, ailerons, a main undercarriage leg and parts of the interior. The fuselage had suffered damage in storage after the aircraft was taken out of use and there was minor damage to the wings. The aircraft on display still lacks engines, instrumentation and parts of the interior. The Aviation Museum has installed a new control column and propeller, and has reconstructed the missing undercarriage component and parts of the interior. The damage to the fuselage has been repaired so that the aircraft still looks the same as when it was in use. Apart from these changes it is now in the same condition as when it was left Norving’s service in 1983, with Norving’s colours and markings.
In North Norway, the locals nicknamed the Islander “the fish crate”, a name that is said to have come into being after a winter trip to Tromsø in bad weather. On the previous trip the aircraft had been used for carrying fish and the smell must have lingered. Once safely on the ground in Tromsø an airsick passenger kicked the Islander’s fuselage, muttering “bloody fish crate”.
Local bus and birthing delivery room for small local communities in Finnmark.
In windless conditions the aircraft needs only 137 m for landing, and 203 m for take-off.