ABOVE: New manufacturing jigs in place at Britten-Norman’s Bembridge facility

UK aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman has announced its intention to repatriate aircraft production to its “historic home” in Bembridge, located on the Isle of Wight.

The British SME’s Islander, first flown in 1965, has been in production for over fifty years with around 1300 airframes produced to date. Originally manufactured in Bembridge, production of the Islander and Trislander was transferred to Romania in the late 1960s.

However, the company now plans to invest in new jigs and tooling to create two additional production lines on the Isle of Wight, as well as “modernising production and decarbonizing the site with new sustainable energy initiatives”. Britten-Norman will also be investing in its supply chain and spare parts stock holdings to support existing operators of the type.

Chief Executive William Hynett OBE described the project as a “great success story for the British aircraft manufacturing industry” and noted he was “very proud to be involved in this next chapter at Britten-Norman”.

The new investment comes following the planned launch of a new zero-emissions Islander model in 2026, as well as “wider interest that has resulted from the introduction of finance and leasing options for the resurgent sub regional aircraft market”.

Forecasted production increase, including the hydrogen-powered Islander variant planned to launch in 2026.

In April 2023, a “new UK green aircraft business” merger between Britten-Norman and Cranfield Aerospace Solutions was announced to bring the world’s first fully integrated, zero-emissions sub regional aircraft to market, with a consortium of investors pledging up to £10 million in funding.

Britten-Norman will commence a recruitment campaign in the coming months, further boosting employment in the UK’s Solent Local Enterprise Partnership area and creating new opportunities for apprenticeships and training.