DALLAS – Today in Aviation, the Britten-Norman Trislander, designed by John Britten and Desmond Norman, made its maiden flight in 1970.
The Trislander was a development of the Islander, which had first flown in 1965. Designed by the duo after the pair identified a market for a robust utility aircraft, capable of operating from short, rough airstrips with minimal systems.
The Islander prototype G-AWTU was developed into the prototype Trislander. Its fuselage was stretched and a third Lycoming O-540 piston engine was added to the tail. Originally designated the Islander MK.3, the aircraft made an appearance at the 1970 Farnborough Air Show.
Produced on the Isle of Wight, the Trislander did not enjoy the same success as the Islander. Production ended in 1982 after 73 had been sold. However, the Islander family faired much better and over 1250 aircraft over 50 years.
Guernsey-based Aurigny Airlines (GR) was the type’s launch customer, putting it into service in July 1971. The airline went on to become the world’s largest operator of the type operating 15 in total. In April 2014, GR announced the retirement of its aging fleet. Three Dornier 228s were used as a replacement.
The airline’s most famous Trislander, “Joey” named after its registration G-JOEY, was saved from the scrapheap after a campaign was launched to put the aircraft on display in Guernsey.
The aircraft made its last flight on June 28, 2015, after almost 40 years in service. In January 2019, the aircraft was unveiled at its new home, suspended from the ceiling at Oatlands Barn.
Featured image: Aurigny Airlines was the largest operator of the Trislander in the world and would go on to fly 15 of the type. (Photo: Wdollivier at en.wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)