G-BEVT was built by Britten-Norman, an independent constructor based at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. Its first flight was on 1 July 1977 but due to a lack of orders it was not delivered until 22 July 1983, when it joined the fleet of Aurigny Air Services of Guernsey, one of the major operators of the type – a total of 15 Trislanders were operated by the airline. It spent its entire career with Aurigny, mainly on services between Guernsey, the neighbouring islands of Alderney and Jersey, and Southampton on the south coast of England, and amassed a total of 86,603 flights. With total hours of 28,280, this means an average time per flight of only 19.6 minutes! When Aurigny withdrew the Trislander from service, they donated G-BEVT to the British Airliner Collection for long-term preservation and the aircraft made its last flight from Alderney to Duxford on 22 June 2017.
The Trislander was a development of the Britten-Norman Islander. John Britten and Desmond Norman identified a market for a utility passenger aircraft with a minimum of complex systems that could operate from short, rough airstrips. This led to the BN-2 Islander design and the aircraft first flew in 1965. It enjoyed great success, indeed demand was so great that the factory at Bembridge could not keep pace and another production line was set up in Romania to fulfil the orders.
The second Islander prototype, G-ATWU, was converted into the Trislander by stretching the fuselage and adding a third Lycoming O-540 piston engine on top of the fin. Later production versions had an additional section of fin mounted above the rear engine and most had a lengthened nose profile to provide more baggage space. There was no aisle but five doors along both sides of the fuselage allowed access to all seat rows. The aircraft’s novel design won the Queen’s Award to Industry for technological innovation in 1975. The Trislander did not, however, enjoy the same success as the Islander, and production ceased in 1980 after 73 airframes had been delivered. As of 2017, seven aircraft remain in service around the world.
The Islander ‘family’ has been in continuous production for more than 50 years and over 1250 aircraft have been delivered, making this numerically the UK’s most successful airliner.
Britten-Norman Trislander BN-2A Mk 111 Specification
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)
Empty weight: 5,842 lb (2,650 kg)
Max take-off weight: 10,000 lb (4,536 kg)
Powerplant: 3 × Lycoming O-540-E4C5 air-cooled flat-six piston engines, 260 hp (190 kW) each
Maximum speed: 180 mph (290 km/h
Range: 1,000 mi (1,600 km)
Service ceiling: 13,160 ft (4,010 m)
Minimum take-off run: less than 500 yards (460m)