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|Bembridge, United Kingdom
Britten-Norman (officially the Britten-Norman Group or BNG) is a British aircraft manufacturer.
The company is owned by members of the Zawawi family from the Sultanate of Oman, making it one of the UK's two remaining independent commercial aircraft producers, the other being Slingsby Aviation.
Britten-Norman has sold more than 1,250 aircraft to customers in more than 120 countries. In addition to aircraft manufacturing, the company also performs maintenance, overhaul and repair work as well as performing sub-contract engineering and design work.
The company's sole factory is located at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight although some airframes were assembled under license in Romania once the type's robust and reliable reputation had been established.
The company manufactures aircraft such as:
- The Islander
- The militarised Defender
- The three-engined Trislander
All aircrafts are capable of short take-off and landing (STOL) operations. They are typically used for inter-island schedules.
Many modern Islanders/Defenders have been fitted with turbine rather than piston engines if the customer so requires. Some are employed on police or fishery patrol tasks, providing an efficient and roomy alternative to a twin-engined helicopter. The Hampshire constabulary that oversees matters on the Isle of Wight and across the Solent is one of the police forces using Islander aircraft. Turbine-Islanders are the only fixed-wing aircraft in use by the British Army.
John Britten and Desmond Norman started developing crop spraying equipment in the early 1960s. After moving to the Isle of Wight, Britten and Norman (who had both trained with De Havilland) turned their hand to aircraft design.
In addition to the successful BN-2 Islander, they also designed the unsuccessful BN-1 Finibee and the BN-3 Nymph. During the 1960's, B-N were involved in the development of hovercraft via their subsidiary Cushioncraft Ltd., their first craft, the CC1, was the second hovercraft to lift off the surface of the world.
In the early 1970s, B-N sold the Cushioncraft company to the British Hovercraft Corporation.
Ownership of the company has passed through a number of hands. The Fairey group acquired Britten-Norman in 1972 and then sold it to Oerlikon-Buhle (owner of Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland, hence the Pilatus Britten-Norman designation of some of their aircraft) in 1979. Oerlikon-Buhle sold Britten-Norman to its current owners in 1998.
The 1960's hovercraft of the B-N Group