Aurigny Airlines plans to order two or three Dornier 228s to replace its fleet of ageing Britten-Norman Trislanders, following a successful two-week trial, says the UK regional carrier's chief executive.
Mark Darby tells Flightglobal Pro that the 228's ability to operate during poor weather conditions was a key test during the trial, and that its performance was such that “we are not looking at anything else” as a replacement for the Trislander.
"We had some severe weather, particularly in Alderney recently, which is one of the most difficult parts of our operation. While the Trislanders were grounded because of crosswinds, the Dornier was able to operate," he says.
The two-week trial of the 228, which was leased from Portugal’s Grupo 7 Air, began on 13 November. The aircraft was deployed on Aurigny’s scheduled inter-island services and one Bristol flight.
Darby says it is "too early to say" whether the aircraft will be purchased or leased, but he is confident the process will be completed by the second half of 2014. The Aurigny chief is now drawing up a business plan for approval by the States of Guernsey, which owns the airline.
As a consequence, the airline’s fleet of six Trislanders will be retired next year. One aircraft dubbed Joey, which is the subject of an online petition to save it, will be kept on a plinth at Guernsey airport.