MAX KINGSLEY-JONES / LONDON
B-N Group says it is finalising negotiations to place the initial batch of new-build Islanders being produced under contract by Romaero, as it prepares the first aircraft for delivery. UK company B-N, meanwhile, needs at least five aircraft orders to enable it to relaunch production of the larger Trislander variant.
B-N's contract with Romaero in July relaunched series production of the eight-seat Islander piston twin in Romania after a four-year hiatus, calling for the 24 aircraft to be delivered at a rate of one a month (Flight International, 30 July-5 August). The first aircraft was ferried last month to B-N's completion centre in Bembridge, Isle of Wight, from Romaero's Bucharest plant.
According to B-N Group marketing director William Hynett, the first aircraft has been placed with an undisclosed civil customer, and will be delivered before year-end. "We're finalising negotiations to place the first six aircraft," he says, adding that completing the deals has been hampered by problems resurrecting production and achieving a stable output level. The new aircraft is priced at around $500,000.
Although Hynett says that "principally, all of the first batch are for civil operations", there has been interest in the Defender 4000 surveillance/law enforcement model, due to the increased focus on homeland security post-11 September. "We could take some of the new batch as this variant," he says.
Hynett says that B-N has interest "as far apart as Fiji and the USA" in the 18-seat, three-engined Trislander model, last built over 20 years ago. "We don't want to restart production without firm orders," he says.
Meanwhile, newly created Fly BN has been set up to focus on supporting the 1,250 Islanders in operation worldwide. This will involve assisting operators with product improvement programmes, such as the Harztell "scimitar-tip" three-bladed propeller retrofit to reduce aircraft noise.
Source: Flight International