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Old 02-12-2013, 07:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Britten-Norman Islander

Been flying our Islander a fair bit lately, but am not terribly impressed with its capacity for handling cold (the airplane likes the cold fine, but me - not so much). All in all, though, I really enjoy flying it - it hasn't got many bells and whistles, but I always say that it does what it was designed to do very well. It wasn't designed to be fast, quiet, pretty or comfortable, but by golly, it can carry a load into a short unpaved strip! I generally have about 1000 ft, and it handles it fine - a great little machine!

So anyway, probably a lot of people have seen this tongue in cheek article about the Islander, but I came across it again t'other day in another aviation forum (which I wandered into by mistake, I certainly wasn't going there) and it made me smile, so here it is: (a bit long, but if you've ever flown an Islander you know it's actually quite accurate )


Britten-Norman BN2 XL
By a well-known Flight magazine.

Undaunted by technical 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 licensing 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 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 in to the rudder pedals to prevent over-controlling in gusty conditions (defined as those in which wind velocity exceeds 3 knots).

An outstanding feature of Islander technology has always been the adaptation of the O-540 engine which, when mounted in any other aircraft in the free world (except the Trislander) is known for its low vibration levels. The Islander adaptations cause it to shake and batter the airframe, gradually crystallise the main spar, desynchronise the accompanying engine, and simulate the sound of fifty skeletons fornicating in an aluminium dustbin. PBN will not disclose the technology they applied in preserving this effect in the XL but Mr. Gribble assures us it will be perpetrated in later models and sees it as a strong selling point. "After all, the Concorde makes a lot of noise" he said, "and look how fast that goes."

However design documents clandestinely recovered from the PBN shredder have solved a question that has puzzled aerodynamicists and pilots for many years, disclosing that it is actually noise which causes the BN2 to fly. The vibration set up by the engines, and amplified by the airframe, in turn causes the air molecules above the wing to oscillate at atomic frequency, reducing their density and creating lift. This can be demonstrated by sudden closure of the throttles, which causes the aircraft to fall from the sky. As a result, lift is proportional to noise, rather than speed, explaining amongst other things the aircraft's remarkable takeoff performance.

In the driver's cab (as Gribble describes it) ergonomic measures will ensure that long-term PBN pilots' deafness does not cause in-flight dozing. Orthopaedic surgeons have designed a cockpit layout and seat to maximise backache, en-route insomnia, chronic irritability, and terminal (post-flight) lethargy. Redesigned "bullworker" elastic aileron cables, now disconnected from the control surfaces, increase pilot workload and fitness. Special noise retention cabin lining is an innovation on the XL, and it is hoped in later models to develop cabin noise to a level which will enable pilots to relate ear-pain directly to engine power, eliminating the need for engine instruments altogether.

We were offered an opportunity to fly the XL at Britten-Norman's development facility, adjacent to the British Rail tearooms at Little Chortling. (The flight was originally to have been conducted at the Pilatus plant but aircraft of BN design are now prohibited from operating in Swiss airspace during avalanche season). For our mission profile, the XL was loaded with coal for a standard 100 N.M. trip with British Rail reserves, carrying one pilot and nine passengers to maximise discomfort. Passenger loading is unchanged, the normal under-wing protrusions inflicting serious lacerations on 71% of boarding passengers, and there was the usual confusion in selecting a door appropriate to the allocated seat. The facility for the clothing of embarking passengers to remove oil slicks from engine cowls during loading has been thoughtfully retained.

Start-up is standard, and taxiing, as in the BN2 is accomplished by brute force. Takeoff calculations called for a 250-decibel power setting, and the rotation force for the (neutral) C of G was calculated at 180 ft/lbs. of backpressure.

Initial warning of an engine failure during takeoff is provided by a reduction in vibration of the flight instrument panel. Complete seizure of one engine is indicated by the momentary illusion that the engines have suddenly and inexplicably become synchronised. Otherwise, identification of the failed engine is achieved by comparing the vibration levels of the windows on either side of the cabin. (Relative passenger pallor has been found to be an unreliable guide on many BN2 routes because of ethnic consideration).

Shortly after takeoff the XL's chief test pilot, Capt. Mike "Muscles" Mulligan demonstrated the extent to which modern aeronautical design has left the BN2 untouched; he simulated pilot incapacitation by slumping forward onto the control column, simultaneously applying full right rudder and bleeding from the ears. The XL, like its predecessor, demonstrated total control rigidity and continued undisturbed. Power was then reduced to 249 decibels for cruise, and we carried out some comparisons of actual flight performance with graph predictions. At 5000 ft and ISA, we achieved a vibration amplitude of 500 CPS and 240 decibels, for a fuel flow of 210 lb/hr, making the BN2-XL the most efficient converter of fuel to noise after the Titan rocket.

Exploring the Constant noise/Variable noise concepts, we found that in a VNE dive, vibration reached its design maximum at 1000 CPS, at which point the limiting factor is the emulsification of human tissue. The catatonic condition of long-term BN2 pilots is attributed to this syndrome, which commences in the cerebral cortex and spreads outwards. We asked Capt. Mulligan what he considered the outstanding features of the XL. He cupped his hand behind his ear and shouted "Whazzat?"

We returned to Britten-Norman convinced that the XL model retains the marque's most memorable features, whilst showing some significant and worthwhile regressions.
PBN are not, however, resting on their laurels. Plans are already advanced for the Trislander XL and noise tunnel testing has commenced. The basis of preliminary design and performance specifications is that lift increases as the square of the noise, and as the principle of acoustic lift is further developed, a later five-engined vertical take-off model is also a possibility."

All in all, a wonderful aeroplane.
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Old 03-25-2013, 11:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I really enjoyed that Bluenose! I have about 1500 hours in a BN2 WHATS THAT YA SAY??
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Old 03-25-2013, 11:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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One of the answering posts on the site where this was posted was from a fellow Islander pilot who mentioned that his machine had the passenger shower option - too funny! I thought ours was the only one that had that, but apparently it's an Islander thing. Good to know....

"It's raining on us back here...!"
"Yeah, sorry about that."
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Old 03-25-2013, 02:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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...now prohibited from operating in Swiss airspace during avalanche season...
...Power was then reduced to 249 decibels for cruise...

heheh
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Old 04-24-2013, 02:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hilarious!
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Old 01-07-2014, 12:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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OK, so time to complain some more about how cold that darn Islander is...!

I mean, what were they thinking, putting the only heater vent in the cockpit under the co-pilot's seat?! (well, there's one small one directed on to the windscreen, but it is so sad that you can't hardly even feel it with your hand held right up there)

I have found that when I'm enroute and there is no co-pilot, if I take a blanket and tent it around the right seat and then across my knees it does direct the heat fairly well onto me, but still, with the temps we've been having lately I'm still fairly cold-soaked when I arrive. After one particularly brutal flight I went out shopping before the next one and bought some thermal socks (as opposed to just thick and fluffy like I was wearing), flannel lined cargo pants (had to buy mens because the women's were low rise and I hate having my back freeze), new cold-rated not-at-all attractive boots (have only had nice looking ones before ), and fleece-lined tights. I spent so much money at Marks Work Wearhouse that I got a free hat and $20 gift card! For the flight after that, I not only wore the tights and line pants, but added long johns in between. While I didn't quite freeze, it's still not too nice to just be sitting there in a cold cockpit for close on two hours.

I tell you, I keep seeing online photos of Islanders in the Caribbean and I can't help but wonder why I'm sitting here in Canada. I suppose it could be that my hubbie (and his business) is here and I've grown rather fond of him, but still, I'll have to start posting some snow pics to offset all of those blue water, warm day ones I keep seeing!
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Old 01-07-2014, 12:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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As an add-on to my last post, if anyone is looking for fleece lined tights (and frankly, just so long as you don't get caught wearing them, guys, I highly recommend them - so much warmer and comfier than long johns), the ones in Marks were $20-25, but when I went to Walmart I got them for $8! After weaing them once or twice I went back and bought 2 more pairs they are so cozy!

(Oh-oh, do tights count as underwear? Because this is a family forum and I would hate to have to suspend my own account due to vulgar content )
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