Aurigny Air Services, the UK Channel Islands-based regional airline, is seeking bids for a replacement within the next few years for its ageing fleet of nine Pilatus Britten-Norman BN2A-III Trislanders.
The airline wants a new, rugged, 19-passenger aircraft able to cruise at around 160kt (300km/h), offer a range of 300km (160nm), and be capable of operating from 800m (2,600ft) strips at maximum weight.
The tri-piston-engined Trislanders, which are around 20 years old, are regularly operated on multiple-sector lengths of less than 6min on Aurigny's island-hopping network, being flown from grass strips, with 10min turnarounds.
"A huge gap has been left in the market for small, rugged, airliners following the demise of types such as the Trislander, de Havilland Twin Otter, GAF Nomad, and CASA C212," says Aurigny flight-operations manager Ian Stait.
"We think there would be demand from island airlines, and bush freight carriers, for a basic, easy-to-maintain aircraft, capable of short-take-off-and-landing operation," says Stait.