The Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander is a 1960s British light utility aircraft, regional airliner and cargo aircraft designed and originally manufactured by Britten-Norman of the United Kingdom. The Islander is one of the best-selling commercial aircraft types produced in Europe. Although designed in the 1960s, over 750 are still in service with commercial operators around the world. The aircraft is also used by the British Army and Police forces in the United Kingdom and is a light transport with over 30 military aviation operators around the world.
After Fairey Aviation acquired the Britten-Norman company, their Islanders and Trislander aircraft were built in Romania, then shipped to Avions Fairey for finishing and then flown to the UK for flight certification.
Britten-Norman was started in 1953 to convert and operate agricultural aircraft. It also produced hovercraft (Cushioncraft, later sold to the British Hovercraft Corporation). Design of the Islander started in 1963 and the first prototype BN-2 first flew on 13 June 1965, with the second prototype on 20 August 1966. Both of these aircraft had engines that were less powerful than the production versions. The Islander is a high-wing cantilever monoplane with a rectangular fuselage and two wing-mounted engines. The fuselage, which has a conventional tail unit and fixed tricycle landing gear, will usually accommodate one pilot and up to nine passengers.
The production Islander first flew on 24 April 1967 and was certified in August 1967. Production started at the Britten-Norman factory at Bembridge, Isle of Wight but within a few years the company could not keep up with demand; a contract was placed with IRMA of Romania, initially to produce aircraft from a kit of parts but the Romanian factory soon became the main source for production Islanders.A military version of the Islander, marketed as the Defender and first flown in 1970, had underwing hardpoints and was fitted out as a light troop transport and support aircraft.