Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander/Defender

Seeing a need for a simple twin piston aircraft able to operate from short unprepared runways Britten-Norman designed the Islander in the mid 1960s. In general the aircraft can be easily recognised as it is a high-wing aircraft with engines underneath the wings and a fixed landing gear. The main gear with double wheels is attached to the wings at the engine nacelles, meaning long struts. The nose gear has a single wheel. The wings have a large span and have the same chord and thickness along the span, except for the tips. The fuselage has a rectan­gular cross section and large windows. It is narrow and access to the seat rows (without an aisle) is via large doors on the left and right side. Finally, the tail is of a conventional design.

The two wheel fixed main landing gear, attached to the wings with long struts, is the main recognition point of the BN-2.

As the fuselage has a limited width, the Islander has no aisle. Instead, the seat rows are accessed via large cabin doors. See here the one on the left side, under the wing.

Different versions

The different versions of the Britten-Norman BN-2 can be identified by looking at:

  • the shape of the engine nacelles
  • the size of the wing span
  • the shape of the nose
  • the presence of droop flaps
  • the presence of pylons under the wings (for storage)

Details will follow later.

Confusion possible with

Twin Commander family

twin commander 500b

This aircraft family is of similar size as the BN-2 and also has high wings and a conven­tional tail. The single wheel main gear of the Twin Commander is retrac­table though, in the nacelles which are thus longer. The wings are more slen­der, tapering towards the tips. Additio­nally, the horizontal stabi­li­sers have dihedral. Finally, the cabin win­dows are smaller.

Britten-Norman Trislander

bn 2a mkiii 2

This is the larger, three engine version of the BN-2 Islander. Its fuselage is longer, as is the nose. The third engine is in the vertical stabiliser. For the rest both aircraft types are very similar.

Vulcanair AP68TP Viator/A-Viator

ap68tp 600

This aircraft has an all single wheel retrac­table gear, attached to stubs under the fuselage, and a long nose to house the nose gear. The smaller Partenavia P.68 has a fixed gear, but attached to the fuselage.

Tecnam P2012 Traveller


This aircraft can be seen as a more modern version of the Islander. The main differences are that the P2012 has the fixed single wheel main gear attached to the fuselage, and smaller cabin windows with a 'race track' shape. (photo by Marco Papa, used with permission)