• Review: Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander

    Review: Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander

    By Joseph Rame
    September 4, 2011

    The BN-2 is a popular aircraft for short haul carriers in Florida for their trips from Ft. Lauderdale to Bimini and back. These aircraft are capable of carrying up to nine passengers with one pilot. The aircraft was developed in the 1960's. Despite the age of the BN-2 many still remain in service due to its light weight and utility abilities. The BN-2 in my opinion is an ugly but remarkable aircraft. It has stunning capabilities such as 30 knot crosswind component, IFR equipped cockpit, and simplistic design making it a favorable aircraft amongst the pilots who fly them. What makes this aircraft perhaps most intriguing to cargo, airline, and military operators is the fact that this aircraft is quite happy landing and taking off from unprepared fields. The aircraft is fitted with two reliable Lycoming O-540 260 HP engines. This does not give the aircraft great climb performance but regardless this aircraft was a dream to fly. So without further adieu I introduce the outstanding versatile Britten-Norman BN-2!



    The Flight One/Virtavia BN-2 comes with two manuals, one from Flight One and the other from Virtavia. I recommend the Flight One manual because it's a little simpler however for the brand new flight simmer or just someone who's transitioning from FMC's, G1000's, and all other EFIS planes read the Virtavia manual simply because it goes into detail as to just what each and every gauge does. Certainly a plus allowing simmers of all calibers to enjoy this remarkable but simple aircraft. I would also like to point that the BN-2 comes with 17 pages of real BN-2 performance charts in the form of a PDF file.


    Exterior Model

    The BN-2 is a simple aircraft as previously mentioned. So naturally if you're used to something as complex as a 777 with flaperons, ailerons, secondary static ports on the fuselage side, opening cockpit windows, retracting gear with hydraulic lines hanging, static wicks, loads of antennas, etc. then you've not come to the right plane. This however does not diminish the usefulness and absolute blast this aircraft is. The attention to detail is stunning with over thirteen unique and outstanding liveries. Now these aren't McPhat quality textures but they come with the aircraft and regardless of the fact they are brilliant in my opinion. As previously mentioned the exterior is quite simple winning its praise mainly through its textures and ability to be "very" frame rate friendly on my system. I like to give a rating of each category so for this I will give it an 8.5/10 on the exterior model detail, and a 9/10 on the liveries.



    This is where the BN-2 really shines. I'd like to really just give some basic info at the beginning of this because I can no longer hold it back! I don't know about you but I am sick and tired of seeing gauges that look like they are painted to the VC. Flight One and Virtavia are really making a great deal of effort to ensure high quality products and this is most prevalent with the total emersion of 3D gauges! Not one "sticker gauge" in sight! Radios, throttle, needles they are all 3D! The BN-2 also features a Bendix King GPS which is an old style basic GPS but it is modeled just like the real thing. If you're not familiar with it read up though because you can get more out of this beauty than you think. Night lighting....oh what splendor! No doubt anyone can agree that the most beautiful cockpit is that of which is lit slightly at night...much the same the Flight Simulator rendition of the BN-2 features some spectacular night lighting. While there is not a whole lot to be lit the attention to detail is again very remarkable here. Only the outline of the gauges, throttle quadrants, etc. are lit. This gives a whole new dimension of realism. I also like the fact that you are able to turn off/on the cabin lighting which for all intents and purposes is the standard reddish white dome lighting...but for those night flights be sure to keep white light to a minimum and keep the flight deck as dark as possible!

    Readable text is becoming the next big thing in VC development. All text is 100% readable in this VC, what else can be said except you'll have to see it for yourself!

    Over 400 animations? Now I didn't truly count the number of animations but I am almost certain that there are fewer...I mean 400 moving parts for a "non-complex" aircraft is a bit much but regardless of the fact the aircraft is fitted with a great deal of animations, a great deal of detail, a HUGE deal of extras so despite this I'd still like to rate it a 9/10 easily!

    Quick Note: All gauges feature "Realgauge Technology". Here is a sample taken from the Virtavia manual. One of two manuals that comes with the BN-2: "'RealGauge' is our own version of the very impressive 3D gauge technology. Each gauge is crafted in 3D and uses high resolution textures in order to create a level of immersion not possible with conventional 2D gauges. "RealGauge" creates very little overhead in the sim, allowing both your processor and graphics card to concentrate on proving a totally fluid sim experience. FPS with RealGauge technology is often higher than with less detailed conventional 2D cockpits".


    Due to the complexity of the RealGauge technology, and the guaranteed frame rate increase, this product is designed to be completely flown from the virtual cockpit. No 2D panel is included, though a pop-up containing the KLN-90 GPS is provided.

    Well that wraps it up for the interior which again for a simple aircraft is very good in detail leaving the final score a 9.5/10.


    Ah another award winner in this department. I am not sure exactly how Flight One and Virtavia acquired the sounds for this aircraft but let me start off by saying they are easily perhaps THE MOST REALISTIC engine sounds I've ever heard in any version of flight sim! If you've ever flown on an airplane with pulleys and cables or flown one in person then you're familiar with the "knocking" sounds when you go full deflection on all axis of the flight controls. The Flight One BN-2 debuts this sound as it is the first time in any add-on I am ever hearing it. AUX fuel pump sounds are truly unique to the BN-2...much better sounding then that default grinder sounding aux fuel pump sound. Switches are another big one. Not one switch that I've come across that didn't have a noticeable clicking sound this includes altimeter baro set, H.I knob, radios, etc. Flight One and Virtavia did an outstanding, if not superb job on these sounds and for this I commend them!



    The checklist is extensive for a simple plane. It helped a great deal in revealing many of the BN-2's features. I'd like to point out the fact that Flight One/Virtavia have included an aircraft performance and model reference which is something I've yet to see in many complex developers. Be sure to reference this page as these values (on my sim) have proved to stand true leading me to believe the flight dynamics are spot on too but we'll get to that next. 10/10 because not only did this plane come with a checklist which is rare in itself it also came with a comprehensive performance and model reference.

    Flight Dynamics

    All developers claim that their products were tested by real pilots. While this is true we never truly hear what these pilots say about it. Flight One and Virtavia have claimed to develop the flight dynamics with the help of real BN-2 pilots...this is a claim I can believe. While I've never actually flown a BN-2 I can understand how some of its handling characteristics may act. The plane is certainly unique and handles just like any light plane I've flown. The STOL capabilities stand firm when you dump those flaps....kind of makes it a bit creepy to be making an approach with nine passengers in the back at 80 knots as I am used to the 140 knot approach in a jet. What else can I say other than she's a dream, simple, and easy to handle.



    Certainly not to my surprise Flight One in cooperation with Virtavia have added on some extras with the kind permission of Just Flight. Starting off two extras are the Bembridge and Old Sarum airfields from UK2000 Scenery. These grass and paved but almost rustic strips are PERFECT for the BN-2 and most flying with this aircraft was done hopping between these two fields. Another great extra is the camera shake effect. You push that throttle forward, start bumping down the runway, hearing the sounds of the plane shaking, the loud prop blades and more in its entire splendor. Now you add the fact that the camera shakes while on the T/O role...man does this make this thing feel real! I am not sure if this is tied to the Ezdok camera effect which is purchasable at the Flight One shop but regardless this effect is remarkable and truly the first of its kind...congrats Flight One on debuting yet another new feature into the FS world.


    I am a high, heavy, and fast kind of guy. I prefer the smell of Jet A to Avgas...however the BN-2 has brought me back into the world of small light aircraft. She was a dream to fly, and I had a blast loading her up with pax/mail/cargo in FS Passengers, had a blast only having access to what a real BN-2 pilot has access to. It's sometimes hard to give a real extensive review on something so simple but regardless the BN-2 while not my favorite plane sits in a special place being the only true STOL plane I've got. Flight One and Virtavia have gone the extra mile to make you FEEL like you're actually in the plane. I certainly recommend this to the diehard GA/light twin fan. You will have a blast! There were some discrepancies but hey every add-on has them. I do think that she's a bit overpriced but then when you go back and look as to just how hard they worked and the research to make you feel like you are in the plane perhaps she's not that overpriced.

    Included Liveries:

    • Air Hamburg
    • Barrier Aviation
    • British Airways Express
    • British Airways Express (Tartan)
    • FLN
    • Great Barrier X-Press (Kotare)
    • Great Barrier X-Press
    • LFH
    • Milford Sound Sightseeing
    • OLT
    • Nature Air
    • Shetland Islands Council
    • Winair

    Test Machine:

    • Windows Vista 32 bit
    • 3 GB RAM
    • AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5200+ 2.60 GHz
    • Geforce GTS 250 Graphics card
    • Microsoft Flight Simulator X SP1, SP2, Acceleration

    Here is a video demonstrating the BN-2's STOL and crosswind capabilities:

    Joseph Rame
    [email protected]

    Learn More Here

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