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Pilatus/Britten-Norman aeroplanes

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Pilatus/Britten-Norman aeroplanes

Old 5th May 2023, 05:29
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Pilatus/Britten-Norman aeroplanes

First up, apologies for the long post. Rummaging through some old aviation magazines and notes the other day and found this really humorous article from a 'Flight International' publication. I assume it was written by a British author due the brilliant humour.

Undaunted by aerodynamic realities, the design team at Pilatus/Britten-Norman has announced plans for the BN2-XL, promising more noise, reduced payload, a lower cruise speed, and increased pilot workload.
We spoke to Mr. Fred Gribble, former British Rail boilermaker and now Chief Project Engineer. Fred was responsible for developing many original and creative design flaws in the service of his former employer,and will be incorporating these in the new BN2-XL technology under a design agreement.
Fred reassured BN-2 pilots however that all fundamental design flaws of the original model had been retained. Further good news is that the XL version is available as a retrofit.

Among the new measures is that of locking the ailerons in the central position, following airborne and simulator tests which showed that whilst pilots of average strength were able to achieve up to 30 degrees of control wheel deflection, this produced no appreciable variation in the net flight path of the aircraft. Thus the removal of costly and unnecessary linkages has been possible, and the rudder has been nominated as the primary directional control. In keeping with this new philosophy, but to retain commonality for crews transitioning to the XL, additional resistance to foot pressure has been built into the foot pedals to prevent overcontrolling in gusty conditions (defined as those in which wind velocity exceeds 3 knots). An outstanding feature of Islander technology has always been the adaption of the 0-540 engine, which mounted in any other aircraft in the free world is known for its low vibration levels, so as to cause it to shake and batter the airframe, gradually crystallsing the main spar, desynchronising the accompanying engine, and simulate the sound of fifty skeletons fornicating in an aluminium dustbin.
However design documents clandestinely recovered from the Britton-Norman shredder have solved a question that has puzzled aerodynamicists and pilots for many, disclosing that is actually noise which causes the BN-2 to fly. The vibration set up by the airframe, in turn causes the air molecules above the wing to oscillate at atomic frequency, reducing their density and causing lift. Noise said Fred causes the lift - look how much noise the Concorde makes and how fast it goes.
I'll stop here as the article is extensive and would take me about another hour (or two) to type.

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Old 5th May 2023, 08:48
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An old one, but amusing to those of us familiar with BN flying qualities. (Some 2000 hours in Islanders and Trislanders.)
A tad unfair, though. Heavy the controls may be (I used to feel like I’d had a heavy gym workout after a gusty day flying the Trislander) but the aircraft will fly you through hell and back.
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Old 5th May 2023, 10:55
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Jump Complete. I agree with you regarding the Trislander. I've only got some 500 hours on it, and it was a long time ago. However, it was during the Scottish oil-boom. Various Shetland airfields. An unfairly maligned aeroplane in some quarters. Having said that, the original post was good-humoured.
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Old 5th May 2023, 16:06
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on occasion, the “market” makes some good decisions?
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Old 5th May 2023, 19:37
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I flew a few times out of Wings Field, North Philly to Philly International. (at that time it was just one old terminal at the opposite side of the runway).

Went to "board" with the family, well, walked up the semi-ladder and into the Tri-lander. It was like being measured for a coffin. The wife was seriously scared and the kids loved it. Then it was bump, rattle, our way down to Philly following the "Surekill" expressway before landing at Philly. What an experience, every time something new, lost the mid-engine once, but we knew nothing, the thing just kept flying. Better than the old Tristar which followed for sheer thrills.

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Old 5th May 2023, 21:04
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The one drawback of the Trislander was its range. Aberdeen to Cork for example. With no toilet facilities, it was known as the Britten-Norman Bladderbuster.
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Old 5th May 2023, 21:28
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I delivered one of the Trislanders to Wings Field (if there was more than one) in 1982. I picked it up at Seletar in Singapore and delivered it about two weeks later via Philly International. I came west about. I considered going east, through Japan, but the longest leg was Honolulu - San Fransisco, and at over 2100nm it simply didn't have the legs, together with other long legs to small islands in the Pacific. This was with five 45 gall drums instead of the seats - they were on top of the tanks. It was winter time when there was unusually heavy snow in UK that winter. There was a major snag with the a/c. As it had over 10(?) seats it needed auto-feather fitted for US requirements. When I first got to the a/c the auto-feather system was a mess with any or all engines auto-feathering above 1500rpm! The auto-feather was disconnected and the UK CAA allowed one flight to Bembridge (Britten/Norman) UK to fix it. Except Bembridge (and other places in UK) were snowbound. With creative reading it was (I) decided that this one flight was all the way to Wings Field. This was over the Christmas period so nobody was in their office. Longest leg on this route was Reyjavik - Goose Bay.
I remember I was met by (possibly) the chief pilot (chap with a moustache) at Philly International who proceeded to tell me how to fly the Trislander in a crosswind - as there was a strong crosswind at Wings field. He was a true SkyGahd and I lapped up every word...

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Old 5th May 2023, 23:14
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Always worried me about who would check the oil on the third engine on a cold wet & windy night?
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Old 6th May 2023, 00:47
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There was only one Wings Field in Philly in 1984, in Bluebell, PA.

I was working at the Sperry Design Center, just round the corner. I got to go home twice a year. (Cape Town). The Wings Field departure was the the start of a very long ride home. The main problem was for a family of four, we were quite baggage limited from the start.


That third engine was always a problem. The number of times we arrived to fly to find all the covers off, and mechanics swarming around it like flies.

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Old 6th May 2023, 05:56
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As SLF, I miss Aurigny's 'Joeys' from and to the Channel Islands.

I am sure the fold-down seats were repurposed from a Renault 4.

It was always a bit disconcerting to find a beginner's guide to the aircraft controls on the rear of the flight safety card, the expectation apparently being that one would climb over the seats and take over if the (single) pilot became incapacitated.

On the other hand, if you were near the front it gave you a grandstand view of all the pilot could (or, more often than not given CI fog, could not) see.

Possibly my last flight on one was supposed to have been Guernsey-Jersey-Dinard; I was the only passenger doing Guernsey-Dinard. When I arrived at Guernsey airport I was told the flight had been cancelled because Jersey was (of course) fogbound, but the airline told me to hang around the airport for a bit. About ten minutes later they paged me and said "it's your lucky day, someone in Dinard has chartered a plane and since we can't get one out from Jersey we're sending one from here and you can just hop in the back". I duly loaded myself and my luggage (I don't even recall passing any form of border control). The pilot looked back along the looong row of seats, raised his eyebrows at his sole passenger, and said "spread yourself around a bit".
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Old 6th May 2023, 06:52
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Kiribati was a stopping point for Antipodeans on the way to bigger things. They were a great crowd. A few incidents spring to mind...the trislander ferry back from Fiji where they were planning to ditch as the half way beacon hadn't been turned on...local pilot climbed in back to get his passport.(clouds cleared in the nick of time)
Aussie guy going back to hangar with inadequate power having failed to notice the third engine hadn't been turned on.
The usual trick where the pilot sat with the passengers and said that if the pilot didn't show up soon he would fly the plane himself.
​​​​​...and those Renault 4 doors
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Old 6th May 2023, 15:02
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I always liked the Trislander's nickname - "The Belgian DC-10".
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Old 6th May 2023, 17:14
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"The best thing to ever come out of the Shetlands: an Aberdeen-bound Trislander" Standing by for flak.
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Old 6th May 2023, 19:20
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My first thought, when reading the original quote, was Uncle Roger in the "Straight and Level" column at the back of Flight every week. But it seems too long.
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Old 6th May 2023, 19:40
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Uncle Roger AKA (mostly) Mike Ramsden, or Mike Gaines or possibly Cliff Barnet would be my guess.
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Old 6th May 2023, 20:07
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BN2 Defender (islander) in the Oman desert end of last century was a dependable workhorse in trying conditions. Not the most agile of aircraft, I would agree, but always managed to do what was required with a bit of forethought and "brute" strength! Fond memories!
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Old 7th May 2023, 08:17
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And they give sterling service with FIGAS
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Old 7th May 2023, 09:18
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Asturias, indeed as well as surviving the 4 legged self loading freight which was common when I was down there!

The delights of flight schedules by public radio, oh and the darts!
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Old 7th May 2023, 10:24
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We were down there just pre covid - waiting for a flight back to Stanley from the northern islands - the plane arrived from MPL and two blokes got out and unloaded a plane load of kit. This was then ferried across to the next island - where the strip was "challenging" according to the pilot - in several goes. We lent a hand of course - once it was all done we had our trip to Stanley, dropping off one of the construction guys at MPL on the way back.

It makes me smile- people go on about the need for a basic aircraft without bells and whistles (bring back the C-47!) - and when someone builds one that is reasonably successful they complain they want something more sophisticated................
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Old 7th May 2023, 17:24
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Not many aircraft can land on the beach at Barra.
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